Just 10 years ago, getting a TV in your car was a challenge. Cutting up the head rests or paying $3,000 for a small flip-down tv was commonplace. In 2009, just about every minivan has a rear-seat entertainment system from the factory, and SUVs come with the option available. OEM technology has finally caught up to the aftermarket, and in many cases left it in the dust. Case in point- the 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT.
As my family and I are headed to Detroit for the Woodward Dream Cruise, we are discovering the fantastic level of technology loaded in this car. Chrysler lent me the vehicle specifically for this trip, to get an idea of what Chrysler has to offer. I have to say, it is impressive to say the least.
Starting with the 4.0 liter V6 and 6-speed automatic, this minivan hauls. I am certainly not going to sit here and tell you that a minivan is super quick, nimble or any of that, but when you tell it to go, it growls back and pushes down the road. We had no trouble passing on the highway, doing well over the posted limits (I may be driving a minivan, but I am still a gearhead). The best thing about it is that the exhaust is whisper quiet until you floor, it actually sounds like a car with some balls, and it likes showing them. Full-throttle blasts down the interstate are met with ease, the van does not sound like it is straining. For a minivan, its pretty fun.
Features and amenities are quite lavish in the SXT. Dual sliding power rear doors, power hatch, sunroof, and the rear side windows roll down. The Stow-N-Go seating is really nice, a push of a button and the rear seats lay down flat. Dual A\C controls for the front passengers and rear A\C for the back makes trips easier. I like it blasting full cold, but my wife and kids do not, so I don’t have to fight with them over that.
All of these features are nice but where this thing really shines is in the entertainment features. Holy crap this van has it all. Dual (as in two) rear dvd 9” fold-down screens with IR headphones, one for the middle and one for the rear seating. The system is controlled via the remote or the Uconnect DVD screen head unit in the dash. The head unit has full Bluetooth connectivity, with navigation and a built-in hard drive for all your music. An iPod connector in the glovebox lets you go direct (if you are into that whole iPod fad). Sirius\XM satellite radio is included.
Sounds good right?– we are only getting started. The two rear TVs are wired to the Sirius TV system. My kids are watching Spongebob on Nickelodeon while the wife and I are listening to some music we loaded to the hard drive. Actual TV streaming into the car without a big ugly antenna on the roof, it is all coming through the Sirius TV antenna, which is hidden under the roof. Once my kids discovered the live TV, they were spoiled forever. Going back to my 2008 Chevy Uplander is not going to be easy.
I have saved the coolest piece of technology for last. Upon receiving the Grand Caravan, I noticed a black box with two antennas. Further inspection proved correct, this sucker is loaded with the latest in Mopar features, the AutoNet mobile WiFi system. Utilizing the nationwide 3G cellular network, the AutoNet system provides the occupants with full internet capability anywhere in the US. Not sure where your hotel is? Type it and get the address. Send email, surf the web, post to your blog all from the comfort of the heated leather seats of the most technologically advanced minivan in the world. The fact that I am posting this while cruising up Route 66 on our way to our first stop, St. Louis, is pretty damn cool.