Auburn Hills (MI) – Minivans may not be able to shed their soccer mom image, but there is apparently still lots of demand for the roomy family haulers. Freshly divorced from Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler has just launched its new 2008 Dodge Caravan and 2008 Chrysler Town&Country, with a boatload of new features, including the industry's first implementation of in-car Sirius TV.
At least judging from the official pictures of the new minivans, both designs aren't what one would call especially exciting. But inside these boxes, there is more geeky tech available than in any other minivan on the market today.
If you spend at least $28,430 for the mid-level Town& Country Touring with the base 3.8l 197 hp engine, you can equip your minivan, with a $675 "MyGig" entertainment system. Behind the LCD, there is a 20 GB hard drive, which offers a DVD player for the kids as well as storage for your MP3 files and images. The screen also serves as a display for the rear back-up camera, which is included in this option.
An additional $1725 buys two single-disc DVD players plus a two 8" DVD-screen system for the second and third row of passengers. Perhaps most noteworthy, the package includes Sirius radio and Sirius TV with what Car and Driver called "three not-so-crisp channels of live programming from Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel, and the Cartoon Network." Subscription for the service is free for the first year, but after that you will have to pay $19.95 monthly for the service ($7.95 is for the TV portion).
The Limited version of the Town&Country, which sells for $36,400 in the base version and comes with the Chrysler Pacifica's 4.0l V6 with 251 hp, already comes with the basic MyGig system. Buyers of the Limited version can add a navigation system to the device for $1300, while the dual-screen entertainment feature runs for an extra $2020. Add everything up and a loaded Town&Country rings up at over $41,000, which is comparable to the price tags of a loaded Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.
The Dodge Caravan version is available with the same features, but is about $1000 cheaper than a Town&Country. Pricing starts at slightly above $22,000 and approaches $40,000 on the high end.