After providing practical transportation to families for more than three decades, Dodge and Chrysler minivans continue to hang on, despite massive competition from crossovers and other, more "modern" vehicles.
Their popularity has diminished considerably, true, and several competitive minivans have left the market in recent years. Yet, plenty of family-focused shoppers remain attracted to the minivan’s spacious and versatile interiors, and to such handy features of the Chrysler/Dodge duo as Stow ‘n Go seating.
What's New for 2016
Little has changed for the 2016 model year. Rumors of discontinuing the Grand Caravan after 2016 have persisted for some time, and its demise now seems likely.
Choosing Your Dodge Grand Caravan
Developing 283 horsepower, the familiar 3.6-liter V6 engine power all minivan models, teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission that incorporates manual gear selection. Fuel economy is estimated at 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway (20 mpg combined).
Each minivan has front-wheel drive and holds as many as seven passengers (six if second-row captain’s chairs are installed). All but the budget-priced AVP trim level include those Stow ‘n Go second- and third-row seats as standard equipment. They fold fully into the floor to provide plenty of useful cargo-carrying capacity.
Upper-level Grand Caravans can be fitted with navigation, as well as DVD/Blu-ray entertainment system -- two extras worth thinking about for vacation travel.
Dodge is a bit behind the times in standard safety features, including lack of a rearview camera on lower trim levels. Otherwise, most of its minivans are nicely equipped. Standard equipment on the budget-priced AVP is rather modest, but when you consider how much passenger/cargo space you’re getting, its value is hard to beat.
"Plus" packages for the SE and SXT cost only about $1,000 each -- a bargain for the number of equipment upgrades they provide. Only the R/T can have leather seats, but the extra performance-aimed features don’t amount to all that much.
Dodge revolutionized the minivan segment back in the 1980s. In fact, some actually credit the American automaker with inventing the segment altogether with its Caravan and Grand Caravan. Now, in 2016, Dodge still offers its minivan, but only as the Grand Caravan. Regardless of its name, the Grand Caravan continues to offer a great value and an unmatched pedigree in the segment.
Pricing and Equipment
The Grand Caravan checks in as one of the best values in the minivan segment with a base AVP (American Value Package) trim that starts out at just $21,795. Despite this super-low pricing, the Grand Caravan AVP does comes with some decent features, including:
Two-zone air conditioning
Four-speaker audio system with AM/FM/CD/MP3 capabilities
Dual glove box
Buyers looking for more premium features can move up the SE, SXT, or R/T.
The 283-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 provides plenty of pop for straight-line acceleration, which helps greatly when hauling a minivan full of people and cargo.
Suspension tuning is geared to comfort rather than performance, and you'll need to opt for the R/T if you want better handling in the corners.
The cabin feels airy, and it's easy to move around
Everything is perfectly positioned
Durable hard plastic where it needs to be and refined materials where you want them
Blacktop Package adds some extra sportiness
That durable hard plastic might not be as appealing if you're transporting adults rather than children
Some design elements are starting to feel dated
The Most Pleasant Surprise
The Grand Caravan offers a good mix of features and tremendous value. Of particular note is the AVP, which is a fantastic option for families on tight budgets. But any Grand Caravan gives buyers a lot of features for the money.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
We're not thrilled about the Grand Caravan's safety rating, which aren't what they should be for a minivan designed to carry families. The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives it just four stars overall, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave it a "Poor" rating in its difficult small-overlap crash test.
The Bottom Line
In terms of value, the Grand Caravan is almost unbeatable, as nothing comes near it in price. However, there are better options out there for buyers looking for the safest rig for their family.