2014 Dodge Grand Caravan 30th Anniversary Edition Quick Take
It's time for a new minivan from Chrysler. That was the overwhelming feeling I had after spending a weekend in the 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan. There's nothing seriously wrong with this van, really. It offers good acceleration, decent fuel economy, acceptably comfortable seating for 7 passengers, good cargo space, and so on. In other words, it hits all the minivan metrics.
But the market has moved on, and this van is getting left behind. When it debuted back in 2008, it already felt dated compared to competitors like the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna; subsequent updates to those two vans left the Dodge (and its twin, the Chrysler Town and Country) feeling even further behind. An interior and dynamic update back in 2011 solved some of the stylistic problems, and it certainly made the vans nicer to be in, and drive.
The Grand Caravan offers up driving dynamics that are, at best, inoffensive. The 3.6-liter V6 engine has plenty of power, and the 6-speed automatic shifts quickly, but those are really the dynamic highlights. The suspension and steering have been tuned to prevent carsickness, but if you're looking for any kind of driving satisfaction in your van, a quick spin in the Nissan Quest or Honda Odyssey will convince you that it's possible. Inside, there's room for seven, and no more: there is no option to sit eight people, despite the Grand Caravan's size. Seeing as how the Odyssey and Sienna can both be equipped to seat eight, it's an oversight. Plus, it's missing the clever features we expect in modern minivans. There's no vacuum, like in the Odyssey, nor is there a hidden underfloor storage, as in the Nissan Quest.
On the other hand, man, what a screaming deal. At $33,565, including the destination charge, our 30th Anniversary edition included a dual-screen DVD/Blu-Ray entertainment system for rear seat passengers, a surprisingly good audio system, three-zone automatic climate control, navigation, and a host of other options. Honestly, it's a deal that's good enough to not just undercut its competitors by thousands in some cases, but to make one overlook its bland driving dynamics. If you're looking for value, and you measure value in terms of stuff-per-dollar, the 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan makes a pretty good case for itself. And in 30th Anniversary trim, it's kind of a collector's item since the next generation minivan will be sold by Chrysler only.
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