Thoughts on buying a new 2009 Caravan & full lifetime warranty option

As previously posted, my 92 Caravan finally blew the transmission at 204k miles...since rebuild costs match the vehicle's value, I'm pursuing options...
There is someone I work with whose husband is a salesman at the local Dodge dealership...so I went in to meet with him and have a closer look at the new Caravan's. He met me and said he had spoken with the owner and was told to offer me invoice cost...presumably as good as it gets...?
I took a close look at an SE with 3.3 v6 and otherwise basic setup. I also looked at a beautiful teal-ish green SXT with the 3.8 v6 and 6-speed transmission...as well as the daul-monitor DVD system and fancy touch-screen radio with hard drive built in. I'm a computer tech, so those geek gadgets tend to impress me... It also had the automatic doors and rear hatch...which I would honestly just as soon not have. The 96-07 Caravans are OK, but that styling has never really appealed to me...the new ones I like.
Being that I *just* made the last payment on our 2002 Isuzu Trooper 2 months ago, I'm not really looking forward to a payment again...but. The big kicker that is making me think hard about it is the lifetime drivetrain warranty. I keep thinking that if I had bought my 92 new with such a warranty, I'd have another transmission in it by now, covered by the warranty... The other very appealing part is the offer of a full lifetime warranty covering nearly everything, which I'm told costs about $1800. We're the sort of people that will buy a vehicle and run it till it dies...and even then seriously consider repairing it. :-) The other part about buying new now is the promise of good deals by dealerships and automakers desperate to sell vehicles. That likely won't be happening the same if I wait a while to save up some more cash...
Has anyone else had any experience with this sort of warranty? The full lifetime is espcially appealing considering all the goofy options and gadgets that could break on such a well-equipped vehicle. But...is there something I'm missing or have not heard about as far as the warranty goes that I haven't considered?
Anybody else have one of the new Caravan's? What do you think of it so far? I have no experience with Caravan's other than my old 92...
I know it's blasphemy to ask in this forum...but are there other minivans I should look into? I dropped by the Honda dealership a few minutes today, but was running out of time and didn't get to look real close or take one for a drive. I've heard really good things about the Toyota Sienna too...I just don't like the thought of dealing with the sleazy sales department at my local dealership...
Anyway...sorry to ramble on so much...thanks for any advice.
Wesley
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On Sat, 20 Jun 2009 22:20:04 -0400, Wesley wrote:

I have an 09 Grand Caravan SE, that my job supplies me with. It's pretty basic, but I like it quite a bit. Previously I had an 06 version of the same van, and I think this one rides better, although it feels a little "heavier". After you're used to it, it's fine. Again, I like it.
My wife drives an 08 Honda Odyssey EX, pretty much fully loaded. I'd say that vehicle rides better, and is much more "plush" inside, but was not cheap. I expect it to last a long time, based on Honda's past record.
The styling on the new Caravans took a little while to win me over, but I do like it now. I think the Honda is a better looking van, but not that big a deal either way. Neither one of them is very good with gas mileage.
Anyway, if you can afford the price difference between the SE and the SXT, I'd go for the SXT. The rear air conditioner alone is a big benefit, and the dashboard/controls are better/nicer. I think you'd like it just fine.
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They can do better than invoice as there is what's called a holdback paid by Chrysler directly to the dealer after the sale. Depending on how badly they want to move the vehicle, you can make them dip into that and in effect sell under invoice. I don't remember exactly what the holdback is, but 3% of the MSRP is in the area.

I like having the automatic doors. No more re-opening and re-closing when you didn't push hard enough. If you manually close the power door, and didn't quite push hard enough, the power mode takes over and completes the closing. The other option is to just use the power buttons and have the motor do all the work.

If they are actually qouting you a Chrysler Corp warranty, $1800 is a good price. I purchased the lifetime Chrysler warranty ($50 ded), but got it from one of the online Chrysler dealers. I paid about that much. My local dealer was asking about $3500 for the same product. If it's an aftermarket private company warranty, take a detailed look on the web at the number of private warranty companies that have gone under leaving the car owner with worthless paper. My warranty is a genuine Chrysler and appears as such on the vehicle record my dealers pull up when I go in for service, even though I bought the contract elsewhere. Actually, I am at my second dealer now, as the purchasing dealer was closed by AutoNation 6 months ago. I got my warranty from Pearl Dodge/Chrysler Jeep via this website: http://www.chrysler-warranty-online.com/ I checked them out with the BBB, and I wrote the GM there to be sure they were authorized to sell online. BBB checked OK as did the GM's letter. Pearl Dodge is a 5 Star dealer and survived the cuts. www.pearlautos.com

The 08 is our third Caravan (previous were 84, 97). I like it very much. I never really liked the "egg shape" on the 97 but that was the wife's choice. On the 08, I got the SXT, M package, 4liter-6spd, with tow package, U-Connect, touch screen satellite radio/hard drive, backup camera, (No GPS), heated leather seat option and 17" wheels. I passed on the GPS, because once purchased, it's the one you're stuck with, and that option is pretty pricey. GPS technology is getting better every few months. I plan on a Garmin nuvi sometime in the future. No kids so we passed on the swivel n;go with table and rear video screens. The SXT-M option package Caravan came with the "sport suspension" so it rides a little rougher than others. That option for 09 is only on the "Anniversary Model" according to the website. The 4 liter gets me 15 in town, 23 on the highway. I hike on a regular basis, so the car is driven from town 2000' elevation to 7500'-8300' every weekend except in the winter. Plenty of power on the uphills with 4 adults and backpacks. The 6 speed trans with the paddle shift is a dream on the long downhills. Just tap the shifter to downshift and hardly ever have to do more than tap the brakes to stay within the safe speed limits.

I had looked at the Honda, Toyota, Hyundai/Kia vans also. Honda & Toyota were priced many thousands of dollars higher. The Hyundai/Kia was OK, but was not compatible with the inside power wheelchair lift we have. I also shopped the Chrysler T&C, but didn't feel the extra price was worth the few trim bits that made up the difference between the Caravan and the T&C.
Looking at the website, it appears they really changed the option packages. Seems they reduced the individual available choices and bundled things together. You have to study the website and compare the model/package options to get what you really want this year.
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QX wrote:

Typically thats 3% so most dealers aren't going to cut into that much. An offer of invoice minus all rebates and factory to dealer incentives etc. is a pretty good deal. If its late in the model year a dealer will sell at zero profit or possibly take a loss. Right now there are dealers who still have 2008 vehicles on their lots. Being that its mid 2009 many dealers will take a loss to move them.
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I have an 09 SXT love it.. took it to California last fall. I live on vancouver island just off west coast of Canada. was great on the trip... 3 adults and 2 teens and not cramped fer space..... now comes the not so good part.... just had the transmission replaced in it... they wouldnt tell me exactly what happened other than the whole transmission / transaxle assembly was being replaced as it was the 1st one that had ever had such a complete failure...but even with that I still love the van.... would still buy another. any vehicle can fail its how its dealt with by the dealer that makes it...
Pete....
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I have has several Grand Caravans (currently 2007) and Plymouth Voyagers because they are excellent for my business (with the seats down) as well as family. I never believed in extended warranties until my current and last Caravans. The problem is that I would get up to about 70,000 miles and have to start repairs. Never knowing what lies ahead I would feel the need to get something newer. I had an extended warranty on my 2002 Caravan and it paid for itself--I think it was for 60,000 miles. On my 2007 I went for the 100,000 miles full coverage. I feel I can keep it for at least 100,000 miles and not have to worry about repair expense. If that enables me to keep it for another couple of years beyond what I would otherwise feel comfortable with, it will save me money.
As another poster said, be sure to go with the genuine Chrysler warranty. And be sure to shop around. On my '02 I bought the extended warranty from a dealer in another state. This last time my local dealer was willing to nearly meet another quote so I bought it from him.
The only thing I don't like about the Caravans is the interior noise. In all of mine it has been difficult to carry on a conversation with people in the center or rear seats. My brother has a Honda minivan and I was surprised about the quietness and ease of conversing with someone from front to rear.
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