The 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan is all new. It's a necessary redesign for Dodge, to remain the leader of the minivan pack. And it's a good one, with many improvements, including a new optional 250-horsepower V6 and six-speed transaxle (a minivan first), with fuel economy of just one less mile per gallon than the standard 175-hp V6 with a four-speed.
The Dodge Grand Caravan is indisputably America's favorite minivan. Dodge sold 141,648 Grand Caravans in 2012, representing a 28 percent increase over 2011. Add in 111,744 sales for the 2012 Chrysler Town & Country, the Grand Caravan's mechanically similar but decidedly up-market cousin, and the resulting quarter-million minivans account for nearly half the entire U.S. minivan market. The Chrysler Group minivans have left Nissan, Toyota, Honda and some other bit players scrambling for the half that's left over, perhaps appropriate given Chrysler popularized the minivan.
The all-new 2016 Honda Civic represents a comeback, having been driven into the ditch of dullness previously, with cheap interiors, boring design, and sappy performance. The new Civic is larger, nicer, more sophisticated. The Touring model feels like a premium car disguised as an economy car.
Ford Escape is solid choice among compact sport utilities for on-road use. It has a roomy interior, comfortable and convenient with useful cargo capacity. The four-cylinder engine delivers plenty of power for most needs, even with the four-speed automatic. The available V6 engine delivers strong power. A four-wheel independent suspension and unit-body construction make it ride and handle almost as well as a car. It isn't designed for rugged terrain, though it's fine for gravel roads.
The Saab 9-3 offers a powerful turbocharged V6 and a choice of three different body styles, a four-door sedan, a convertible and a wagon. Whichever body style, the 9-3 delivers a sporty driving experience. These cars handle well, making for enjoyable driving when the road gets twisty.
The 2.8-liter turbocharged V6 makes for compelling motivation, while the standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder has benefited from a recent power increase. For 2007, the turbocharged four-cylinder gets the same six-speed manual gearbox as the potent V6.
Underway, the 9-3 is smooth and quiet. We prefer the automatic, which has a semi-manual feature, over the rubbery six-speed manual. Torque steer is no longer part of the experience.
Inside, the 9-3 offers firm, comfortable front seats with a cabin trimmed in high quality materials. We prefer the standard seats. The ignition switch is located on the center console, which is either awkward or wonderful. The SportCombi wagon boasts big cargo space.
For 2007, the instrument panel has been redesigned, climate and infotainment controls have been simplified and interior trim has been revised. OnStar is available as an option; and XM Satellite Radio is now standard on Aeros, and included in the Premium Audio upgrade for base models.
Saab's unique and rebellious approach to design and engineering adds to the charm of the 9-3 and makes it an interesting alternative to the popular BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Volvo S60/V50, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
For nearly 50 years, Saab has offered savvy buyers a unique alternative to the mainstream European sedan. Turbocharging, front-wheel drive and cutting-edge safety technology have made Saabs popular with those living in northern climes, whether in Sweden or the United States. A distinctive design heritage and idiosyncratic details, mounting the ignition on the center console among them, endear Saabs to people all over the world.
Saab's first larger sedan, the quirky 9000, debuted in 1985 and quickly built a cult following. When the 9000 evolved into the 9-5 for model year 2000, Saab made its largest car even more powerful and, as some Saab-philes believe, more mainstream. Since then, the 9-5 has been steadily refined.
Saab updated the 9-5 with a new front and rear sheetmetal and a revised instrument panel for the 2006 model year. For 2006, Saab has added a sporty 2.3T Aero model to replace the previous Sport package.
The Saab 9-5 (pronounced “nine-five”) is available as a sedan or wagon called the SportCombi. Each is offered in 2.3T or sporty 2.3T Aero trim levels.
The Saab 9-5 is among the less-expensive cars in the near-luxury class. All 9-5s are comfortable and sporty, and the wagons are excellent alternatives to gas-guzzling SUVs. As always, any 9-5 is a good choice for drivers who don't want a cookie-cutter car.