2001 Grand Caravan New Car Test Drive
Since the introduction of the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager in November 1983, more than 8.5 million-including the Chrysler Town & Country-have been produced. Imitators have been many, trying either to outflank or outdo the original, but the Dodge Caravan, and the long-wheelbase Grand Caravan tested here, remains the king of minivans.
While the Chrysler Voyager starts at $19,800 and the Town & Country Limited has a base price of $38,000, the Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan stake out the middle ground, offering the most popular options at an affordable price.
Dodge Grand Caravan's popularity comes from its family friendly attributes: an ability to carry mom and dad and half the little league team while delivering a smooth car-like ride and reasonable fuel mileage, and offering the features and flexibility America wants. That's not a paid commercial, just the reason they sell so darn many of them. In fact, 350,000 of them: The Dodge Caravan accounted for just shy of a quarter of all minivans sold last year.
Of course, with the competition in hot pursuit, DaimlerChrysler can't rest on its laurels. So the 2001 Dodge Caravan (as well as the Chrysler Voyager and Town & Country) are new from the ground up. There's a new look, more interior room and a host of features, including optional dual sliding doors and a power liftgate.
Dodge offers six versions of its minivans for the 2001 model year. Grand Caravan models add a useful six inches of length between the wheels. Caravans come with the standard wheelbase.
Caravan SE starts at just $19,160, and with a limited option range the price can't stray too far above that mark. It comes standard with a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine, and hand-crank windows. But also standard are air conditioning, variable intermittent wipers, and an AM/FM stereo cassette audio system. Base price for the Grand Caravan SE is $21,785.
Sport models are next on the features ladder, available in either standard or extended wheelbase. All Sport models come with a standard Flex-Fuel 3.3-liter V6 engine. The Sport gets fancier seats with upgraded cloth and standard rear defroster, anti-lock brakes, power door locks, speed control and other features. The Caravan Sport retails for $23,525, while the Grand Caravan Sport lists for $24,275.
Snowbelt residents will appreciate the traction action of the Grand Caravan Sport AWD. Base price: $29,695.
Grand Caravan ES is the top-of-the-line Dodge minivan, offered only in an extended wheelbase version, but with a choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive. ES adds an overhead trip computer, the option of leather and heated seats, the option of 17-inch wheels (fwd only), and an optional Auto-Stick transmission. Base price for the Grand Caravan ES is $29,110; for the Grand Caravan ES AWD, $32,235.
Also available is the Grand Caravan EX, which is positioned between the Sport and the ES. EX comes with the popular features found on the ES added, but with only one option available. It comes at a special price of $26,070.