Dodge Grand Caravan

The Grand Caravan SE has a standard 3.3-liter V6 engine that makes 175 hp; the SXT has a 197-hp, 3.8-liter V6 with an optional upgrade to a full 4.0 liters making 251 hp. The SE uses a 4-speed automatic transmission, while the SXT with either engine has a 6-speed automatic, which was a first for minivans when it debuted in the Grand Caravan.

ABS, TPMS, multi-stage front air bags and supplemental side curtain air bags for all three rows of seats are standard equipment on both the SE and SXT trim levels, which contributed to its across-the-board 5-star safety ratings from the NHTSA. The electronic stability program is available on the SE and standard on the SXT, and options include a rear-view camera, blind-spot monitor and rear parking sensors -- all of which would likely come in handy when navigating a long-wheelbase minivan.

But that long wheelbase affords plenty of seating configurations. The second row bucket seats can be upgraded to Swivel 'n' Go seats, which rotate 180 degrees to face the third row bench seat -- itself a Stow 'n' Go seat that folds flat into the floor. This package comes with a table that can be set up between the second and third row seats for games or snacks on road trips, plus in-floor storage.

If the rear seat passengers prefer to ignore their siblings and parents, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system is available. The available MyGig entertainment system has a music 30GB hard drive and navigation system to get everyone there as quickly and happily as possible. Plus, standard 3-zone climate control minimizes arguments between the front and rear seats.

The SXT adds a few more niceties, especially for the driver, such as a leather-wrapped shift knob and multi-function steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, an upgraded instrument cluster, and a driver's side power sliding door. For the rear passengers, the overhead storage system adds bins and ambient LED lighting, plus the SXT has swiveling reading lamps similar to those found in airplanes.

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