Dodge Caravan Engine
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The Dodge Caravan, along with the nearly identical Plymouth Voyager, became the first commercially available vehicles designed under the minivan concept. The vehicles were innovative when introduced by the Chrysler Corp. as part of the 1984 product year. The vehicles were designed to offer good fuel economy with a spacious interior meant to appeal to families.
Early Dodge Caravan designs borrowed heavily from the Chrysler K-car product line utilizing some of the same chassis and drive train designs. This included the original four-cylinder engines that used standard two-barrel carburetors. The 2.2-liter produced about 95 horsepower while optional Mitsubishi 2.6-liter boasted about 104 horsepower.
Increasing demand for better performance lead Dodge to offer fuel injected options of the same basic engines beginning in 1987. This boosted the horsepower of the standard engine to about 100 while the larger Mitsubishi engine reached about 135 horsepower.
Later engine upgrades included a Mitsubishi V-6 engine with a 142 horsepower rating. A 2.5-liter turbo diesel was offered for a brief period but ultimately dropped due to lack of consumer interest.
The current or fifth generation of the Dodge Caravan is marketed under the name of Dodge Grand Caravan. The standard 3.8-liter V-6 engine offers about 280 horsepower which is more than triple the horsepower of the original Caravan of the early 1980s. Optional engines include a 4.0-liter V-6 engine and a 2.2-liter V-6 certified as a Flex-Fuel engine. Flex-Fuel vehicles can safely operate on a wider variety of ethanol mixes than standard gasoline engines.
The concept of the minivan and Chryslers early leadership in the field helped the company remain viable during the 1980s. The vehicles offered a car-like driving experience with the interior room and capacity of a small van. Along with holding the honor of being the first minivan, the Dodge Caravan and its sister vehicles dominated the market to the extent that one of the vans is included in a display titled America on the Move at the Smithsonian Institute.
The Dodge Caravan and other vehicles following the minivan design, have been replaced in popularity by the small sport utility vehicles and crossover vehicles in the current market place. In addition, the large numbers of these vans put on the roads during the height of their popularity has reduced the value of used Dodge Caravans on the market.