Dodge Grand Caravan
Dodge Grand Caravan
2016 Dodge Grand Caravan
Van shoppers on a budget, take note. All others, look elsewhere.
2017 Dodge Grand Caravan Dodge Grand Caravan 2017 3.0 1.0 5.0
Overview: The sleek new Chrysler Pacifica may be getting all the attention lately, but its maker, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, isn’t quite ready yet to put all its minivan eggs in one basket. And so the Dodge brand is hanging on to its own minivan offering, the Grand Caravan —mechanical twin to the Pacifica’s predecessor, the now defunct Town Country minivan—for at least another year. Last redesigned for 2008, the Grand Caravan is getting old, and it is now being positioned as a budget minivan alternative with a low, low starting price of $24,590. The Grand Caravan’s top trim level costs only $33,490. At that price point, the Pacifica is just getting started, and a well-equipped version of the new Chrysler can take you all the way to $50,000.
What’s New: Not much has changed since Dodge dropped the then-new Pentastar V-6 engine into the 2011 Grand Caravan. Since then, a new entry-level American Value Package (AVP) trim brought the starting price down for 2012, and a new, sinister-looking Blacktop appearance package arrived for 2014. (On 2016 models, it’s priced from $395 to $695.) A few other equipment packages brought more features, including power sliding doors and a power liftgate, down to the midpack SE and SXT trim levels.
What We Like: Practicality reigns supreme in the Grand Caravan, as it should in a minivan. Chrysler’s Stow ’n Go seating system, which allows you to fold both the second- and third-row seats into compartments in the floor, remains a laudable innovation. No other minivan competitor (other than the Pacifica, of course) offers fold-flat second-row seats, and the compartments that swallow the folded seats provide a useful amount of underfloor storage space when the seats are erected and in use.
The driving experience remains solid, with the 3.6-liter V-6 delivering mostly smooth and strong power through its standard six-speed automatic transmission. The steering is nicely weighted and the handling is secure, even if the R/T model ’s supposedly “performance tuned” chassis doesn’t quite live up to its sporty billing—not that one expects sportiness to be a priority in a minivan.
What We Don’t Like: Everything about the Grand Caravan looks and feels old. With its blocky exterior styling, it looks dowdy next to the stylish and sleek Pacifica. Despite some updates over the years, the cheap plastics found throughout the interior remind us of Chrysler in its pre-bankruptcy days. The Stow ’n Go seats, while handy, also compromise comfort, since the small chairs skimp on padding so that they can fit into the underfloor compartments.
It’s no surprise that the dated Grand Caravan’s technology offerings are decidedly subpar. A central touchscreen isn’t even available on the AVP or SE models, and the 6.5-inch Uconnect screen, optional on the SXT and standard on the R/T, is old-school and less seamless in use than newer versions of the touchscreen system. Tech-savvy little ones in the back seats will be left fighting for USB ports to charge their devices; the Grand Caravan offers a maximum of only two USB charging ports in the back, while the Pacifica can be had with up to five ports spread across the three rows of seats. A few active-safety features are offered, namely blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, but only on the top R/T model. The Grand Caravan does not offer the lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and forward-collision warning systems available on most other minivans.
Verdict: Gets the minivan job done for families on a budget—and that’s about it.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 4-door van
BASE PRICES: American Value Package, $24,590;
SE Plus, $28,190;
SXT, $30,290; SXT Plus, $31,390;
ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
Wheelbase: 121.2 in
Length: 203.7 in
Width: 78.7 in Height: 69.0 in
Passenger volume: 164 cu ft
Cargo volume: 31 cu ft
Curb weight (C/D est): 4550-4700 lb
EPA city/highway driving: 17/25 mpg
News and Reviews