The Dodge Grand Caravan has some of the best street cred of any minivan, as it can trace its roots back to 1984. Not much, though, has changed for the current iteration of the Grand Caravan, which appeared on the scene in 2008 as the fifth generation of the vehicle. While the majority of its more modern rivals outclass the minivan, the 2018 Dodge Grand Caravan is a bargain for consumers willing to look past its flaws.
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2018 Dodge Grand Caravan Overview
What's New for 2018
Last year's GT trim is no more, which means buyers no longer have the option to upgrade to advanced features like blind spot detection. There's also a new color this year: Indigo Blue.
Choosing Your Dodge Grand Caravan
All Grand Caravans come with one powertrain, which features a 283-horsepower, 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine that’s matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. Power goes down to the front wheels, while fuel economy for the minivan is rated by the EPA at 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, resulting in a combined rating of 20 mpg. The minivan doesn’t mind doing heavy-duty tasks either, as the Grand Caravan, when equipped with an optional package, is capable of towing up to 3,600 pounds.
The Grand Caravan might be showing its age, but that doesn’t mean the vehicle’s out of tricks. The minivan features a two-two-three seating arrangement that offers a capacious amount of room for seven passengers. But the nifty thing about the minivan has to do with its Stow 'n Go Seating and Storage System that allows owners to get the most out of the vehicle.
The minivan's second and third row of seats can disappear into the floor, leaving a flat area of approximately 140 cubic feet of cargo capacity. The ingenious part of the system, though, is it can still be used if the seats are in place, providing owners with 12 cubic feet of hidden cargo space. In addition, the Grand Caravan’s 60/40-split folding third-row seats can turn 180 degrees, allowing individuals to sit comfortably in the seats while looking out the rear of the vehicle.
The Grand Caravan is available in three forms:
2018 Dodge Grand Caravan Review
The 2018 Dodge Grand Caravan scores with its capable V6, Stow'n'Go seats, and strong value proposition. But it's dated and lags behind competitors, offering poor safety features, cheap interior materials, and disappointing ride quality.
The 2018 Grand Caravan models range in price from $27,345 for a base SE to over $36,000 for a fully-optioned, range-topping SXT. All are front-wheel drive and equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 paired with a six-speed automatic. On the safety front, a rearview camera is standard, but advanced features like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning are unavailable.
With an eye towards the Grand Caravan's value proposition, we'd choose the base SE model that offers the usual power features as well as keyless entry, front and rear air conditioning, third row Stow'n'Go seating, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, and heated outside mirrors. Keeping things simple, we'd only add second row folding seats and an upgrade to the infotainment system that includes Bluetooth connectivity.
Here's how we'd build it
- Model: 2018 Dodge Grand Caravan SE
- Engine: 3.6-liter V6
- Output: 283 horsepower / 260 lb-ft
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic
- Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
- MPG: 17 City / 25 Hwy
- Options: Uconnect Hands-Free Group ($690, Bluetooth, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, auto-dimming rearview mirror with microphone, remote USB port, steering wheel audio controls), Second-Row Buckets with Fold-in-Floor Seats ($995)
- Base Price:$27,345 (including a $1,095 destination charge)
- Best Value Price:$29,030
The Grand Caravan's V6 offers crisp acceleration and pairs nicely with FCA's quick-shifting, six-speed automatic. The engine is quiet and, even over rough surfaces, exterior sound levels are fairly muted.
But the highlight reel ends there as the outdated chassis allows torque steer to rear its ugly head – the front-wheel-drive layout is easily overpowered by the V-6's abundant power – while the suspension, tuned for control, produces a buckboard-like ride that transmits even the slightest road imperfections to interior trim panels.
A boxlike exterior surrounds a roomy interior with plenty of storage options, decent visibility, and front seats with great adjustment options. In addition to the requisite fold-into-the-floor third row, the Grand Caravan's available Stow'n'Go middle row (standard on SXT) performs the same magic – eliminating the need to haul seats out for more space, while providing additional under floor storage when the seats are being used.
At the same time, the Grand Caravan's dull, outdated exterior has been eclipsed by competitors that include the Chrysler's own Pacifica, while the interior – trimmed with soft-touch surfaces on top of doors and the dash – cedes every other surface to cheap-looking hard plastics.
The Best and Worst Things
Minivan versatility at this price point makes the Grand Caravan an intriguing value proposition, but that means putting up with outdated styling, a budget-grade interior, and a buckboard-like ride.
Right For? Wrong For?
The Grand Caravan's combination of price and features should appeal to value-conscious family buyers.
A boxy exterior and cheap, dour interior will have style conscious buyers taking a pass.
The Bottom Line
Despite its strong V6 power, versatile Stow'n'Go seats, and value proposition, the Grand Caravan's dated looks, low-rent interior, and poor ride quality keep it from being a true contender in its class. Leave this one as a last resort at the rental car desk.
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