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Chrysler Delivers 8% Fuel Economy Improvement on 2009 Minivans

The new 2009 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan models equipped with a 4.0-liter six-cylinder engine now deliver EPA fuel economy ratings of 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway—up 8% compared to 2008’s 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.

A best-in-class aerodynamic exterior (Cd 0.33) encapsulates the optimized 4.0-liter single overhead cam (SOHC) aluminum V-6 engine that produces 251 hp (189 kW) of power and 259 lb-ft (350 Nm) of torque. The engine is coupled with a re-tuned six-speed transmission and higher numerical first gear.

Smaller steps between ratios—meaning that the engine speed changes less with each shift—create a smooth driving dynamic with improved fuel economy.

Chrysler and Dodge minivans hold more than 40% of the US minivan market segment.


Reality Czech

The smallest available engine in the Town & Country appears to be a 3.3 liter V6. If Chrysler wanted to improve economy, a 2.5 liter 4 would be in order.


What an accomplishment. A 2009 mini-van with 21 mpg instead of 19.5 mpg. At that rate we may have mini-vans doing 25 to 26 mpg within 25 + years.

Let's hope that other manufacturers will come to our rescue with light weight HEV and PHEV mini-vans that can do much better.


Seem as if they refuse to write off old assets and ideas-maybe a new and improved BOD.



I share your impatience, but improvements on the gas guzzlers are most important.

At 19.5 mpg, 15,000 miles per year: 769 gallons gas
At 21.0 mpg, 15,000 miles per year: 714 gallons gas

55 gallons savings per year per vehicle is a nice gain, and at $4/gallon you're looking at a savings of $220 per year. Now that might not be enough to persuade customers for this van instead of another, but if they can get another gain next year you might be looking at a $400 per year differential, and that starts helping people to choose this van over the less efficient one, and saving a "barrel" of oil with every customer who switches.

It's not a big number, but at those low mpg vehicles every increase of a mpg or two has a tremendous impact on total gallons used per year.


The actual size of the engine is rather disappointing, although I guess they're stuck with the big engine/power bet they made previously. I had a prior version Chrystler Town and Country and the biggest engine was a 3.6 (I think) liter V6, plenty of power and way better mileage than this optimized 4 liter. Lipstick on a pig, so to speak (its still a 4 liter engine).

Now implement idle stop function and displacement on demand over the next model update and it might be a decent vehicle considering the size.


When is someone going to sell a minivan with at least auto stop-start or even better, as a full hybrid?

There's got to be tons of people out there who want a fuel efficient vehicle that can carry 6-8 passengers comfortably.

Your best choice for that type of vehicle is still a standard minivan, the Highlander hybrid nets similar fuel economy numbers to the Chrysler minivans.

Convert the minivan to a hybrid and city fuel economy will go way up and highway fuel economy will be around 30mpg.



The previous large engine was the 3.8L V6, it's still available on the lower priced models of the Caravan and T&C. The mpg ratings are from the EPA and they significantly changed the ratings for 2008 so all vehicles get a lower rating. You will do better on the highway unless you really drive aggressive. I could get 26 - 27 out of the 3.8 in my 2003 Grand Caravan at 65 mph even though it is only rated at 23mpg in the 08s (it was rated at 25mpg in the 03s). I bet the current 4.0 could do that already since it is rated at 23mpg for the 08s also. Anyhow the 3.8 was fine for flat terrain but really struggled on hills/mountains, the 4.0 (w/ 6 speed auto) is supposed to be significantly more powerful and I would choose it for that reason. For the 2010 model year the new Phoenix family of V6 engines should start to filter into the product line up and include features such as cylinder cutoff and direct injection. Displacements are supposed to be in the 3.3 to 3.6 range for the current minivan. A dual-clutch automatic is also a possiblity. Look here for some speculation:


These numbers are a joke! But at least they are improving a little.

A few years ago I sold a 1993 Dodge Caravan with a 2.5L 4-cyl and 5 speed that had a HUGE OVERDRIVE 5th gear. During slow highway cruising it got up to 35MPG. The tranny didn't last very long, and the engine needed a new cylinder head after about 120K miles I believe, and the car had almost no resale value after 10 years, but other than that it was a good kid carrying box.

They should sell this new van with a 2L and 6 speed manual and micro hybrid and the aero tweeks...

...except your 93 caravan was around 1000lbs lighter...



We could always import Renault's 7-seat, 52.3 mpg Ondelios cross-over to drive the kids around.

It would make a real difference (in fuel consumption) over the new 21 mpg Chrysler mini vans.


"Best in class aerodynamic exterior (Cd) of 0.33?"

I beg to differ- our '05 Toyota Sienna Minivan (powered by a 3.3 liter V6 + 5spd auto) has a claimed Cd of 0.30.

Its 3.3 liter V6 is plenty powerful (Toyota now offers a 3.5 liter V6). Our '05 was rated 19/26mpg at purchase (newer models are rated at 16/23mpg). Yet over the life of our vehicle we have averaged better than 21.6mpg -not great, but probably among the highest for any 8-passenger vehicle currently on the market.

Perhaps if Toyota installed the Highlander Hybrid's Synergy Drive powertrain in the Sienna minivan body they would have a home-run on their hands. Anyone (besides me) interested in an 8-passenger +28mpg minivan?

stas peterson

The anti-American, self-loathing haters, are out in big numbers, today.

Too bad for them, that the successful Chrysler minivans are slated for enormous mileage increases in model year 2010. Meanwhile we have this pretty good interim improvement.

The first lighter Phoenix v6's incorporating all-alloy, DOHC, VVT, GDI, cylinder shedding, and possible turbo-charging, together with the new 6 speed Automatic dual clutch transmissions will arrive, in large numbers. Don't forget that the 3.0 liter CRD, T2B5 diesels are coming too, in 2010.

And also don't forget the FWD versions of the dual mode hybrid will arrive then too. The World I-4 was designed for turbos, already has performance versions of them, and GDI is coming too. When the de-tuned turbo I4s, with GDI arrive in 2010, they will offer all the HP and torgue that the old 3.3 and 3.8 v6s did. The 6-speed DSCs will improve 0-60 times by a a second and a half over the same 4 speed autos and engine drivetrains. Taken together this makes 4 cylinder/ 6 speed hi-tech drive-trains entirely appropriate for these minivans.

Executed in a 4000 pound vehicle, instead of a 6500 pound Escalade or Aspen, the mileage should easily reach into the thirties andpossibly the forties.


I have a 7 seat Renault Espace 2.2 dCi diesel engine.
( A largish 2wd minivan of about 1800 Kg).
It is 4 years old, and we get about 36 mpg (UK) out of it (in mixed driving) which is about 28.5 mpg US.
The newer models are about 10% better for similar performance.
It could be even better with some hybridization, which would be suitable for quite a large, heavy vehicle.
Diesel is very suitable for vehicles like this (and would also suit SUVs if people would allow it in the US).
Diesel hybrids would be very suitable for city use as you would reduce local pollution as well as increasing mileage.
As some people have mentioned, you would almost want to mandate stop/start for all cars after say 2011.


Mrs Stas Perteson scam

It is not Green car's readers fault if the american auto industry is technically 10 years behind the japanese and european auto industry. The big 3 should only blame themselves for this, since they always resisted any technological progress especially in matter of efficiency, they were too confortable to produce steel dinosaurs. So put your "american nationalistic proud in your pocket" there is nothing to be proud about in that matter


An 8% increase in MPG is good news.

It is not the best possible news. But we make have to wait a while for the perfect world.

Chrysler's problem today is their management over the last decade. That management dug the hole and today's management hopes to get out. I doubt they will.

With limited resources climbing out is tough. But one thing is certain, you have to sell something or you are doomed. So, dare I say it, you put lipstick on your pigs. And you offer what is ready, not what you would prefer to have ready.**

** More or less what Rumsfeld said about armies and war. The old guy admittedly was terse, but he was being pestered by idiots, aka, our media.

Alex Kovnat

There's lots of things Chrysler, or for that matter any manufacturer, could do to gain incremental fuel economy improvement. For example, you could save a little energy in using aluminum, magnesium, or carbon fiber composite in place of steel.

Chrysler could also use various hybridization schemes, such as mechanically disconnecting the alternator when accelerating and then, when slowing down, using the alternator as a brake by arranging for more electrical energy to be pumped back into the battery. Not to mention full hybrid electric powertrains, like on the Toyota Prius or Ford Escape.

Also: Ford is planning to use a four-cylinder engine with turbocharging. So there are various things Chrysler (or any other manufacturer) can do. The only problem is: Are YOU willing to pay more money for all this? Let us not forget that it was only when gasoline went up to $4 a gallon, that the American people finally turned away from grotesquely oversized sport utility vehicles and toward smaller cars and more use of public transit.


I have the 2003 caravan. The thing has tons of power
and is safe and great in the NH winter (seems like the
way the engine is aligned in the front is really good
w/ FWD).

I remove the seats all the time and carry things like
full sheets of plywood (also 2x4's, 2x6's). I also hav
carried my snowblower and a woodstove in it.

Now, I don't know if the average caravan user is using it like this, but I'm not sure you would get that level of interior volume and payload capacity in a typical
Euro-7 passenger. Granted I like the looks of the
Renault, but I just don't think you can compare the
average lifestyle of the U.S. to Europe. Here in NH
(and VT as well) we tend to drive a lot (not for fun)
and winters are quite demanding on vehicles.

I truly think of this vehicle as a "mini - van" emphasis
on the van. Also in this vehicle all passenger seats
can be loaded and you can still get luggage behind the
rear seats I this not to be the case in other vehicles
such as the pilot and some of the Toyota offerings.

Some of the comparisons I am hearing are not apples/apples.


Is this engine E85/flex-fuel capable?


The 1985 Caravan with a 2.2L engine and 5 speed manual transmission was rated at 18/25 using the revised (2008) EPA method.

If you had the optional 3 speed automatic, the revised EPA ratings are 17/20.


Who are you addressing as “ Mrs Stas Perteson scam”.
Do not post if you cannot reasonably masquerade as mature.
It is juvenile to claim the American auto industry is technically 10 years behind the Japanese and European auto industry.
Did the Japanese decided to produce steel dinosaurs like the Titan, Tundra, Sequoia, Armada etc. in an effort to catch the advanced technology of the big 3?
The big 3 strives for technological progress including matters of efficiency in the face of the higher wages paid in America compared to foreign auto makers in foreign countries. The same is true for most consumer goods. The big three has, by law, one more handicap. It must pay their auto workers more than foreign car companies must pay American auto workers here in the US.
So recognize your un-American paranoia for what it is - nothing you will be proud about as you mature.

Chrysler's problem today is not only (or maybe not at all) their management over the last decade, for the same reasons. I don’t know why Daimler M-B thought they could get around this but they obviously could not.


ToppaTom: Chrysler management.

My remark wasn't intended as criticism of any Chrysler manager current or past. I don't know a single one.

The meaning was more along this line. Their management today must work with what they have. And what they have is ultimately the fruit of past management decisions going back about a decade.

A major car company simply can't be repaired quickly. The product cycle is too long and operations are too integrated.

I doubt Chrysler can now survive as a major manufacturer no matter what team runs it. Even the best managers are not magicians. The US economy is weak - and I believe Chrysler has no significant overseas presence, their product is not popular, their competitors are many and more able to fund innovation.

That is all just my guess. I hope they make it.


My mistake. I agree. But the assumption (that apparently comforts those that feel American ingenuity or management or character must be inferior or evil) is that the big 3 made a mistake by building big cars/SUVs/trucks and neglecting small cars and hybrids.
Think how much better off GM would be, if they had made their own Prius starting back in 1998. Well, per GCC “Reported US sales of hybrids in July dropped 6% year-on-year to 26,877 units, representing a new vehicle market share of 2.4% for the month.”
Yikes 2.4% ? That’s nothing. Hybrids are irrelevant. A waste of factory effort at this time.
If GM had invested billions in a Prius they would be ridiculed and hurting even more financially than they are.
OK how about making small cars instead of those big carumy trucks and SUVs?
Again, to quote CGG “US Car Sales in April Outpace Trucks for Second Month in a Row (2 May 2008). Sales of passenger cars in the US in April exceeded the number of light trucks sold for the second month in a row, with 655,432 units sold compared to 591,122.” (That's ALL cars, small and BIG).
Where's the management mistake?


So, assuming the big 3 make more money on trucks/SUVs (and don’t forget Japan is also making more and more trucks/SUVs) and since the market is still more or less equal – Where are the management mistakes? Truck/SUV sales are about the same as small car and BIG CAR sales together. Where’s the mistake?
The “management mistake” is (the geeks think) that people are allowed to make or buy trucks/SUVs because they (the geeks) don’t like them (well, I don’t like them either). As K does, I hope the big 3 make it. And I wish people bought smaller cars (and engines). I wish people drove less and more slowly.
I hope the Volt sells like hot cakes. Unfortunately “hot cakes” in this case means maybe twice as many sales as ALL the hybrids on the market – which is only 5% - ulp, that's no help, no hope.
The big three are in trouble because they have severely higher labor costs. If we could suddenly convert domestic factories to make small cars and convert Japanese factories to make trucks/SUVs, and gas stayed at about $4, the big 3 would still be in trouble, the quantities PROVE the vehicle type is not the problem. Oh, wait the problem is inefficient factories (old machines and processes). Right, I can just see the QM bashers on this site knowing more than GM about how to cut costs. Why must there be other causes than the labor cost. Others might contribute, sure but so what?
I just wish past mistakes were the cause; the cure would be easier. The cause is years and years of labor costs consuming the money that should go to new model development and R & D and sure for factories and machinery. Those labor costs continue as a burden and will accelerate the decline.



Sorry sir, even ignoring the Hybrid how many models the big three have in the top 10 most efficient car in sold in US ??? ok oil price started to soar in 2004, in 2008 they realize it is time to make efficient vehicle, sounds like a bit slow no ? didn't they actively opposed Carter (in partcular mrs IA Coka) willingness to increase mileage standards in the early 80s? didn't they violently opposed California attempt to regulate CO2 emissions as well as upgrade of CAFE standard. Toyota and Honda make trucks but they also have hybrid.

Yes they had a problem of pension but it could have been solved without opposing systematicaly attempt to improve efficiency.

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