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 Meg on Thursday, December 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "So much fun to drive, comfortable, good looking"
Cons: "Resale value"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Got this vehicle for the safety features and I love the way it drives. No one really gets car sick, even in the very back seats. I have taken it twice to Disneyland which means going through the grape vine. Was able to run A/C at temps of 98F. Second time we began over heating but it was 107F. The space inside is great and I can fold down seats to put my 150 Alaskan Malamute in back. Its comfy, mileage is great and the 3.6L 283 horse engine never leaves you looking for more."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By wesn001 on Thursday, December 04, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: To trade up to newer model
Pros: "Best in the world for trips and "curb shopping"
Cons: "Need more and better designed cup holders"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have owned nothing but a voyager/caravan (with the exception of the Pontiac Montana) since 1986. Had some transmission problems with the earlier models, but I think that has been solved and haven't had any problems with the last three. I traded up from a 2012 to a 2014 Gr Caravan. I love the "store and go", and the auto sliding side doors and windows. The only reasons for my "8" rating are that it's a little under-power in mountain country; I hate the seat belt chafing on my neck (but I don't think I'm going to find any car/model that fixes that); and the lack of an ashtray. I know I shouldn't be smoking, but an actual built in ashtray would make it easier to avoid ash deposited everywhere. I also wish that automatic headlights was a standard feature."
By Ty n Ali on Wednesday, November 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 78,464overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Price, drives very nice in the city/highway"
Cons: "second row seats decline is minimal for kids"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This vehicle came with everything except navigation, which I didn't need since I had a smart phone. Compartment in the floor, swivel seats, bucket seats front and second row, satellite TV (cartoons), Satellite Radio, MP3, Hard Drive to download music, multi channel CD player, Touch Screen panel in radio, Boston Acoustic Speakers, interior mood lights, sun roof, roof rack, allow wheels, fold and stow third row seats, leather seats, front and passenger seat warmers, system monitoring indicator, hands free rear lift gate (opens and closes), hands free, sliding side doors (opens and closes), anti theft system, wheel locks, tow package, V-6 engine (great gas mileage). Looks like a nice minivan on the outside, but once inside the luxury is better than most premium SUVs. If youre in need of a nice family vehicle, this is the one for you, she has been maintained in peek condition. Come see it and take it for a test drive."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
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."
26 people out of 35 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 4 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."
16 people out of 26 found this review helpful