By KBB.com Editors
Although it's been overshadowed by the SUV as the symbol for family transport in third-millennium America, large numbers of families still opt for the arguably more functional minivan. Chrysler is widely credited with inventing the modern minivan and is now the only domestic manufacturer left in the game, as GM and Ford have effectively replaced their slow-selling minivans with three-row crossover SUVs. For the 2009 model year, the Dodge Grand Caravan and its slightly ritzier Chrysler Town & Country sibling, arrive with attractive seating and entertainment options to compete with the remaining minivans from Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Hyundai and Kia.
With features like an available Swivel 'n Go setup that configures into a table for four people and dual, independent nine-inch video monitors that can display DVD movies, video games or satellite-based SIRIUS Backseat TV, Chrysler's fifth-generation minivan is the obvious choice for satisfying rear-seat riders.
While the Grand Caravan's ride and handling are well-balanced, you may prefer the softer Toyota Sienna or the more eager Honda Odyssey. Also, while the Grand Caravan's interior has been greatly improved versus its predecessor, we expected the category's leader to feel somewhat richer.
The SE trim receives more standard equipment including Stow 'n Go seating, cruise control, power second-row window and third-row vents and body color door handles. SXT trims now offer Dodge's Blind Spot Monitoring System, Rear Cross Path Warning System and rain-sensing wipers.
Driving Impressions If you've found the ride and handling of other minivans too soft or too firm, you might appreciate the 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan's balance between highway comfort and around-town responsiveness....We also appreciated the much-improved steering and braking response from the optional sport tuned suspension package (SXT). Equipped with the 3.8-liter V6, the Grand Caravan had no problem transporting medium-size loads, but for an additional $700 and no significant sacrifice in EPA fuel economy figures we prefer our test vehicle's 4.0-liter V6 option. We'd likely look elsewhere in the segment before settling for the 175-horsepower base V6. The Grand Caravan isn't as nimble in parking lots as the exceptionally tight-turning Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. Overall, we found the 2009 Grand Caravan much more satisfying from behind the wheel than its predecessors and commendable for a people-mover of its stature.
In addition to the comprehensive uconnect infotainment system up front, Chrysler's newest minivan offers dual, independent rear video screens that allow second- and third-row passengers to watch two different DVD movies, play video games or even watch the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network Mobile via SIRIUS Backseat TV.
Swivel 'n Go Seats
Although not without legroom challenges, the Swivel 'n Go seating option, that comprises rear-swiveling second-row captain's chairs and a hideaway, removable table, takes the concept of the rolling family room to a new level.
Sharing sheetmetal, powertrains and all but a few features, the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country are most differentiated by unique interior styling. Whereas the Town & Country combines wood-like and bright trim in conveying a more sophisticated persona, the Grand Caravan's sportier gauge cluster and heavier use of black suggest a more athletic nature. Available conveniences include Stow 'n Go and Swivel 'n Go second-row seating, integrated child booster seats and a class-exclusive power-folding third-row seat. Loading and unloading is predictably easy and the accommodations are comfortable.Exterior
After more ovoid third- and fourth-generation models, the newest Grand Caravan returns to the boxier roots of the first couple of iterations. The squared-up sheetmetal and prominent chrome trim give the 2009 model a look that's bolder and more sophisticated at once, and counters the stereotypical minivan look. Power-operated side windows give second-row passengers a less claustrophobic ride, while the SXT trim provides a standard roof rack with integrated cross rails.
A base-equipped 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan SE includes air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and locks, a four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system, stain resistant cloth seating, Stow 'n Go second-row seating and a 60/40-split fold-flat third-row seat. Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic stability and traction controls plus front and three-row side-curtain airbags.
The Grand Caravan's most sophisticated option is a hard-drive-based uconnect gps system that offers navigation with real-time traffic information and features MP3/WMA music and JPEG image uploading, auxiliary audio input, voice-recognition, Bluetooth hands-free cell phone connectivity and more. Other notable options include backup sensors and a rearview camera, Blind Spot Monitoring System and the Cross Path System, which warns of traffic crossing paths when backing up. Also available is a power liftgate, power sliding doors and power-folding third-row seat. Second-row seating options include rearward-pivoting Swivel 'n Go seats, integrated child booster seats, and manual sunshades. A comprehensive entertainment system offers two independent video displays with a swivel third-row monitor.
The 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan no longer offers a four-cylinder engine, which is probably a good thing because we can't even say we'd want to regularly haul around full loads with the base powertrain. Comprised of a 3.3-liter V6 and four-speed automatic transmission, it offers very little gain in the way of improved fuel economy. The lager V6 engines are teamed to six-speed automatic transmission which permits them relatively decent fuel economy with more power and smoother operation.
175 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
205 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 (gasoline), 11/16 (E85)
197 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
230 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23
251 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
259 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25
By Delaware Rob on Thursday, October 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good value and 100,000 powertrain warrantee"
Cons: "SE model has no rear tinted glass"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"My 2012 Grand Caravan SE is vastly improved over older models. The 3.6 new engine has plenty of power, and great on gas for such a large vehicle. The interior is nice, and the seats are very supportive on long trips. Stow & go middle seats are an added convenience, but with the 3rd row seats down there is tons of space. The new 6 speed AT is great and has a manual option for more power and control. The ride is a bit firm, but when loaded can handle very well. I paid $21000 for this Se model, about the cost of many small under powered cars. I've averaged 17-19 mpg city, and 25-27 mpg on long highway trips fully loaded at 65-75 mph."
21 people out of 29 found this review helpful
By booboom on Tuesday, October 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 74,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "lots of room to haul stuff"
Cons: "replacement parts are way to expensive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"it was ok untill I had to replace a y hose and I could not buy just the hose you have to buy the hose and a pipe and you do not need the pipe it was so stupid. I need a reliable car and this is not it."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Tom on Monday, October 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good value, does the intended job."
Cons: "We listen to books on cd. It would be great if we"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I have driven this car for 3 years for 45,000 miles. This is the second caravan that I have had and I am rather pleased with the performance an (knock on wood) reliability. The fold down seats are a real plus for me since we haul stuff more often than people. I don't understand the low ratings others have given this car. I think it is good value for the money."
13 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By Ted on Thursday, September 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Did not know that a auto with this size could get such good mileage (28 to 32) with speed limit speeds. The fold down seats are the best. Other reports say that it is not quite but with my ringing ears who knows. I really love all the features for the price and mileages. I don't see how a family can go wrong with this auto."
17 people out of 31 found this review helpful
By Sons on Saturday, September 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 950overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Value, Cargo Space!"
Cons: "Its still a minivan."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I personally was never going to EVER buy a minivan, because frankly they are about as boring as watching CSPAN at 2AM. Yes I have done that to put me to sleep! I rented this 2012 and then 2013 for 2 cross country trips and it turned me into a full convert. These things can do it ALL that SUV's can't with better MPG. Sure some of the styling of SUV's can be "cooler," but Dodge played it smart in 14 with the blackout package. That was the final straw for me to pull the trigger and buy. Love it!! You get R/T looks at an SE price. I absolutely love what they have done with the styling of the GC 30th Anny for 14. The blackout package was not merely "putting lipstick on a pig." It added the sense of, "yeah it's ok for a guy to drive this completely functional vehicle." Love the fact that I can have all the seats down in less than 5 mins and boom - cargo van. Then switch over just as fast to hauling the kiddos. The versatility of GC can't be beat. Disclaimer- I am partial to Dodge after having a 2001 Dakota for years and I personally would never buy a vehicle in which the worker wasn't treated fairly. I am 100% partial to American originated cars. I know these are made in Canada, but the real $ stays here, not vice versa like some imports that are merely "assembled" here. Never liked the look of the competitors imports anyway. My opinion, buy it, you'll love it."
10 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By rsm on Friday, September 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "economical, roomy, high off road, low maintenance"
Cons: "resale value low, too few cup holders,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We have purchased three grand caravans in succession (every 5-6 years) and have thoroughly enjoyed each one. We plan to buy a fourth soon."
10 people out of 16 found this review helpful