2017 Grand Caravan New Car Test Drive
Thirty-four years and counting, that's how long the Dodge Caravan has been a staple of American family life. How many thousands of hours of happy times have happened around and thanks to this vehicle? And it's still most flexible minivan on the market, with its Stow ‘n Go seating system that's superior to rivals. Family road trips are simply the best, in the Dodge Grand Caravan.
Now for the sad news. Chrysler is planning to retire the Grand Caravan. Production of the Chrysler Town & Country has already ended. So get your 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan while you still can. Or maybe instead, get your all-new re-launched 2017 Chrysler Pacifica. Then you won't have an obsolete minivan.
The Grand Caravan competes with the well-mannered Honda Odyssey and all-weather Toyota Sienna, both formidable opponents. Also the Nissan Quest and Kia Sedona. We think the Grand Caravan wins on value, if not specific qualities.
The 3.6-liter V6 makes 283 horsepower and is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, with front-wheel drive. All-wheel-drive has not been available on the Grand Caravan for a decade, sacrificed for the Stow n' Go system, which takes up the space that another driveshaft would need.
Grand Caravan gets an EPA-rated 17 miles per gallon City, 25 Highway, and 20 mpg combined. That's not as good as Odyssey, but about the same as Sienna and Quest.
The Grand Caravan would be the big loser in a demolition derby with those rivals. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives it four stars overall for crashworthiness, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety calls it Poor in the challenging small-overlap crash test.
It's funny that Dodge calls its models Wagons. The most iconic minivan of all time doesn't want to be seen as a minivan. There is the Grand Caravan Wagon SE and Wagon SE Plus ($24,995), the Wagon SXT ($30,395), and Wagon GT ($33,395).
Standard equipment on the SE includes side curtain airbags, and fold-down third-row seat, with the Stow ‘n Go fold-away system an option. The SE Plus adds Stow ‘n Go, and Bluetooth with audio streaming. The SXT gets a power eight-way driver seat, power sliding side doors, and power tailgate. The GT adds a rearview camera, leather interior, and remote start.
Blind-spot monitors are available.
There's a cavalcade of available electronic equipment, including a media hard drive, navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth, Blu-ray DVD entertainment system with USB ports for charging, and on-board data service via Chrysler's UConnect Web. Never mind that the new Pacifica can do even more than that.