The Dodge Grand Caravan has been on sale for some years now and while it does not offer the latest in in-car technology or drivetrain technology it is a practical and feature packed minivan. Add to that a price point that undercuts most rivals and it makes sense for a lot of shoppers. A rationalizing of trim offerings and an increase in base specification levels are the main changes for 2017.
The Grand Caravan does not immediately stand out as a decade old design, the decent interior quality and dashboard plastics may not challenge newer rivals but are perfectly adequate, especially at its price point. On closer inspection the buttons and certain dashboard controls are plasticky, the glovebox lid is also a bit on the flimsy side. The small 6.5-inch touchscreen feels decidedly old school too although standard equipment is high even on base trim levels.
The seats are comfortable, offering enough head and leg room for adults, the third row is not quite so generous but as long as there are only two adults back there or smaller children, space won’t be a problem.
The Stow ‘n Go seat folding system remains a useful standard feature and makes converting the Grand Caravan from passenger transporter to cargo hauler a quick procedure. Two large sliding doors make getting in and out easy and a full-length rear hatch make loading cargo into the decent sized-boot hassle free too.
The decade old underpinnings are more apparent when it comes to the ride and handling department, the engine can be a bit noisy under hard acceleration and the suspension is not quite up there with newer models when it comes to absorbing bumps and thumps. Handling is also not quite up to scratch but this is perhaps less of a concern in this category.
The Grand Caravan comes equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 producing 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Power goes to the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox is not as smooth as some newer offerings but in general use it is unobtrusive and effective. Acceleration and fuel economy are about average for the class which is a commendable result considering the age and pricing of this minivan.
With 4 trim options and a variety of additional features to select the Grand Caravan offers a lot of standard kit. The base SE has three-zone air-conditioning, rearview camera, 6-speaker audio system with auxiliary jack and a 6.5-inch touchscreen. Options depend on the trim level but include a Uconnect Hands-free Group Package which includes a SUB port, satellite radio and Bluetooth Audio is available in the SE and standard on all other trim levels.
The SE Plus adds 17-inch wheels, front floor console, second-row captain’s chairs and improved upholstery. SXT trim means foglights, power liftgate, larger floor console, suede and leather upholstery combo, 8-way power driver seat and power sliding rear doors. On top of that the SXT can be optioned with the Driver Convenience Group package which has amongst its features a large rear overhead console, heated front and second row seats and voice control.
The GT adds this package to its trim level and further includes upgraded suspension, driver information center, full leather upholstery, touchscreen with navigation, rearview camera and 9-speaker audio system. Options for the GT include rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert.
There are also a number of additional options such as running boards, roof rails and Mopar Wi-Fi hotspot systems to choose from.
The Dodge Grand Caravan may be long in the tooth now and trails new entrants in safety technology and overall refinement but it offers a lot of standard kit and with it a blend of practicality and value that make it a great budget people carrier.