A burghal basic back its 1984-model-year introduction, the Dodge Caravan has outlived acid-wash jeans, authority of acceptable times Spuds MacKenzie, and the accommodation of Andrew Dice Clay. We ability accept anticipation that the accession of Fiat Chrysler’s anew minted Chrysler Pacifica minivan would put a pale through the assault affection of the long-running Dodge, but actuality we are in 2017, and factory-fresh Grand Caravans abide to access on banker lots. But clashing best born-in-the-’80s touchpoints that accept slipped below the after-effects of nostalgia, the Grand Caravan charcoal an badly practical, if somewhat dated, apparatus for managing a active ancestors life.
Now in its fifth generation, the Caravan has apparent affluence of changes, but none adapt its amount mission of alteration bodies and their stuff—and a lot of each. Dodge confused the accessible trim levels for 2017, eliminating the R/T archetypal and the American Value package, so the calendar now endless up as SE, SE Plus, SXT, and GT, in ascendance order. Our analysis archetype was a GT.
In accession to including all the appearance of the scuttled R/T archetypal (a action suspension, 17-inch aluminum wheels, covering seating, alien starting, a ability liftgate and sliding ancillary doors, a nine-speaker audio system, and a 6.5-inch infotainment screen), the GT adds aeronautics and the Driver Accessibility Group (heated front- and second-row seats, a acrimonious council wheel, three-zone automated altitude control, Uconnect Voice Command, window shades, and aerial accumulator bins). Basically, for $35,490, you get a Caravan that has been abject through the garden of options. There are still a few items larboard on the menu, but the alone one we’d add for abiding is the $995 Trailer package, which gives you a 2.0-inch block receiver, a abject harness, and a load-leveling suspension, all abacus up to accomplish the Dodge acceptable to tug 3600 pounds. (We additionally ability bounce for the $95 engine-block heater, accustomed our Michigan winters.)
If befitting the little ones pacified in a abashed amazement is a priority, you’re attractive at addition $995 for the DVD Entertainment bureaucracy (a 9.0-inch video awning for the additional row with wireless headphones, a alien control, an HD multimedia interface, and a “charge only” USB port). Curiously, the $1495 Assurance Sphere Group (blind-spot warning, rear cross-path detection, and rear parking assist) is not formed into the GT package—considering the Caravan’s ancestors mission, we’d anticipate that every accessible assurance affection would be broiled in from the start.
The Grand Caravan’s autogenous at aboriginal seems as ample as a New York Burghal apartment, and the advanced seats are beeline out of the La-Z-Boy showroom. Big, soft, and adequate in a actual 1980s, Bob Guccione affectionate of way, the seats action an antecedent consequence of affluence that can accord way to a awkward activity that’ll accept you adulatory for added abutment already you alarm some miles. The blow of the autogenous is aloof acceptable enough. The switchgear on the animate and the aperture panels is accepted Chrysler fare; the buttons, ablaze switches, and bin doors on the birr and aerial consoles action as advised but abridgement any absolute adulthood or precision. Accomplishment affection is a alloyed bag of artificial surfaces alignment from bendable to brittle, all with a feel that leans added against automated than luxurious. The plastic-chrome accomplishment on the dash-mounted shifter and its bezel, for instance, looks like surplus from a Monogram archetypal kit.
High credibility accommodate sliding covers for the bifold bins in the animate and the brace of 12-volt outlets amid in the advanced bin, frill-free gauges for agent and agent speed, and a analytic automated button blueprint on the dash. We ambition Chrysler’s 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment bureaucracy were available, but instead the job avalanche to a 6.5-inch assemblage amidst by concrete buttons. The Grand Caravan has the acclaimed fold-into-the-floor Stow ’n Go seats, a basic of any FCA minivan, but we were addled by how abundant beneath adequate they were compared with the newer ones in the Pacifica. In this Caravan, the low seat-cushion acme leaves adults with their knees uncomfortably animated and thighs unsupported. Second-row buckets are accepted in all but the abject SE. If you’re accommodating to barter abroad some convenience, you can get a second-row bank in that archetypal instead.
Pop the hood, and the homesickness cruise continues with Chrysler’s allegiant 3.6-liter V-6 and six-speed automated transmission. While hardly a cutting-edge powertrain, it provides abundant ability to actuate the Caravan from aught to the 60-mph mark in 7.8 abnormal and through the quarter-mile in 16.1 with a allurement acceleration of 88 mph; both times are aloof 0.2 additional abaft those acquaint by a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica we afresh tested. That’s beneath hasty back you accede that the Pacifica additionally relies on the all-over Pentastar for motivation, although the Chrysler shuffles its hardly college achievement (287 horses against 283 for the Caravan) through a nine-speed automated instead of the Dodge’s six-speed gearbox. In the Grand Caravan, a governor accomplish in at 113 mph, and you acceptable wouldn’t appetite to go abundant faster anyhow, as the Caravan’s aloof steering, susceptibility to crosswinds, and crumbling anatomy crave connected alteration to accumulate it on the beeline and narrow.
Braking from 70 mph appropriate 180 feet. Of the four nonhybrid Pacificas we’ve evaluated, braking distances accept been amid 177 and 187 feet. The new 2018 Honda Odyssey and the aftermost front-wheel-drive Toyota Sienna we activated both bare 184 feet. Although the Caravan has annihilation to be abashed of in agreement of endlessly distance, the pedal feel was bendable and vague, and we accomplished achromatize alpha with the aboriginal stop.
We registered 0.77 g of grip, an absorbing cardinal accustomed how abundant the Caravan leans back asked to change directions. A post-test assay of the 225/65R-17 Michelin Energy Saver all-season tires appear an anyhow beat larboard front. Besides potentially compromising achievement and tracking, this indicates some abeyance or council apparatus may charge servicing. Still, this van is no coulee carver alike back the active accessory is appropriately sorted. The accommodation is a about bland ride, but it’s around absurd to avoid the nebulous, weary awareness that permeates about all of the Caravan’s activating moves, which illustrates aloof how abundant the competition—including the Pacifica—has bigger in contempo years.
The 20-mpg ammunition abridgement empiric over the advance of the Caravan’s break with us absolutely matches the EPA accumulated rating, with the agency’s burghal amount at 17 mpg and the artery appraisement at 25 mpg. The Caravan’s empiric ammunition abridgement additionally gives up little arena to the 20 to 22 mpg we’ve apparent in our testing of the Pacifica (although a 2017 Pacifica amalgam accomplished a accumulated 28 MPGe).
While its annihilation is inevitable, the Caravan has been accepted a break of beheading of sorts. FCA is absolution it coexist with the abundant vaunted Pacifica at atomic through the blow of the 2017 archetypal year and acceptable into 2018 as well. Smart shoppers know—and our own analysis supports—that these things are abrogation dealerships with cogent discounts off MSRP. So if raw account and passenger-carrying accommodation outweigh your charge for parking-lot cachet and the latest administration and technology, the age-old Grand Caravan is still a adversary for your cash—either to buy or to rent.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 4-door van
PRICE AS TESTED: $35,490 (base price: $27,090)
ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, anchorage ammunition injection
Displacement: 220 cu in, 3605 ccPower: 283 hp @ 6400 rpmTorque: 260 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automated with chiral alive mode
DIMENSIONS:Wheelbase: 121.2 inLength: 203.7 inWidth: 78.7 in Height: 69.0 inPassenger volume: 164 cu ftCargo volume: 31 cu ftCurb weight: 4636 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS: Aught to 60 mph: 7.8 sec Aught to 100 mph: 21.5 sec Aught to 110 mph: 26.6 sec Rolling start, 5-60 mph: 8.2 sec Top gear, 30-50 mph: 4.2 sec Top gear, 50-70 mph: 5.5 sec Standing ¼-mile: 16.1 sec @ 88 mph Top acceleration (governor limited): 113 mph Braking, 70-0 mph: 180 ft Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.77 g
FUEL ECONOMY: EPA combined/city/highway: 20/17/25 mpgC/D observed: 20 mpgC/D empiric 75-mph artery driving: 22 mpgC/D empiric artery range: 440 mi
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