By KBB.com Editors
Although it's been overshadowed by the SUV as the symbol for family transport in third-millennium America, almost a million families opted for the arguably more functional minivan as recently as 2006. Chrysler is widely credited with inventing the modern minivan and will soon be the only domestic manufacturer left in the game, as GM and Ford effectively replace their slow-selling minivans with three-row crossover SUVs. For the 2008 model year, the all-new 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 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 newest entry to feel somewhat richer.
Beneath the surface of its boxier, more masculine styling, the fifth-generation Grand Caravan offers improved powertrains, more contemporary interior styling and class-exclusive options like satellite TV (offering three family channels) and clever second-row seating options. The shorter-wheelbase Caravan model is no longer.
Driving Impressions If you've found the ride and handling of other minivans too soft or too firm, you might appreciate the Grand Caravan's balance between highway comfort and around-town responsiveness. We also...appreciated the new model's much-improved steering and braking response. Equipped with the 3.8-liter V6, our test vehicle had no problem transporting the medium-size loads to which we subjected it, but for an additional $630 and no sacrifice in EPA fuel economy figures we'd probably spring for the 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 fifth-generation Grand Caravan much more satisfying from behind the wheel than its predecessor and commendable for a people-mover of its stature.
In addition to the comprehensive MyGIG 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. The fold-flat Stow 'n Go seating system introduced on the previous generation is also available.
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 all-new Grand Caravan returns to the boxier roots of the first couple of iterations. The new sheetmetal and more available chrome give the new model a look that's bolder and more sophisticated at once, and counters the stereotypical minivan look. Black trim on the SE gives way to body-color and bright trim on the SXT.
A base-equipped 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan SE includes air conditioning, power windows and locks, a four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system, standard cloth seating, a second-row bench seat and a 60/40-split fold-flat third-row seat. Standard safety equipment includes 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 MyGIG 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, a power liftgate, power sliding doors and power-folding third-row seat. Second-row seating options include fold-flat Stow 'n Go or rearward-pivoting Swivel 'n Go seats, integrated child booster seats, power windows and manual sunshades. A comprehensive entertainment system offers two independent video displays.
The all-new Chrysler minivans lose the previously-available four-cylinder engine and gain the category's first six-speed transmission. We wouldn't want to regularly haul around full loads with the base powertrain, comprised of a 3.3-liter V6 and four-speed automatic transmission, especially for very little gain in the way of improved fuel economy.
175 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
205 lb.-ft of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24
197 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
230 lb.-ft of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23
251 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
259 lb.-ft of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23
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."
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."
5 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By JeffG74 on Thursday, October 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,225overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price, Fuel Economy, Options for the dollar"
Cons: "Engine noise, Oil Pump issue, Transmission shift"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"The purchase of this minivan from Chrysler/Fiat comes with a few factors. The first and foremost was the price. The second was I have had previous experience with Chrysler and had no problems with them. I had owned a 2004 Concorde Limited 3.5L for over 10 years. It had over a 150K miles with no issues and I seriously maintain my vehicles. We donated the car to Kars4kids (book value of the Concorde was terrible) when we purchased our 2014 Grand Caravan. Of course 2004 was the last year of the Daimler/Chrysler deal. On to our 2014 Grand Caravan. We have a 3rd child on the way we needed the room in a vehicle to seat 3 children comfortable in their car seats. Admittedly we did look at the GMC Yukon XL, GMC Acadia and the Chevrolet Suburban. Price tags for those with the features we wanted put us well over $40K. So we then looked at the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey. The Toyota and Honda were near the prices of the GM branded vehicles with the features we wanted, so they were a no go. So what was left were the Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Grand Caravan and Hyundai, Kia and VW. The VW is basically a re-badged Crysler anyway and is out of production. So off to our local Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealer we went. The Town and Country and Grand Caravan share the same engine, suspension and sheet metal. As of recent information, the Grand Caravan is no longer going to be in production as of 2016. Chrysler/Fiat is trying to consolidate brands and focus the Dodge brand on the SRT market. In any event after hours at the dealership and comparing the Town and Country to the Grand Caravan feature to feature, we chose the 2014 Grand Caravan SXT. It has a bundle of features for the price and compared to the Town and Country, was THOUSANDS LESS. It is a nice drive on the highway and in the city. It is easy to park (especially with the rear view camera), it gets great fuel economy when in ECON mode (I am averaging 21.0 MPG in the city -hand calculated)and a tank of 87 Octane has given me a return of 478 miles. I personally use Sunoco fuels but have tried other brands and had similar numbers on a tank. Features like adjustable pedals, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, super console, rear DVD screen (only one in the middle as compared to two in the other brands and not blue ray), Stow N Go seating, GPS and Sirius/XM satellite radio made this one a top consideration. The sound system is not bad and serves it's purpose well. It came with two wireless headphones for the DVD system. It also has on the drivers side middle row, an HDMI connection with an standard house hold electrical outlet. Interior is quiet with all the windows up and whoever sits in the third row, has no problem holding a conversation with someone in the front seats. The conversation mirror above the front seats is a nice touch and allows us to monitor the kids. If you put the windows down wind level noise dramatically increases as expected for a van that is not as aerodynamic as the other makes of minivan's. Overall a nicely appointed interior and worlds above what Chrysler put into previous generation vehicles. The interior is a product of what I think Fiat has brought to the Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brand. Now off to the engine and the problems I am experiencing. This engine at normal driving levels is quiet. Even at idle it is a quiet engine. If you smash the go pedal, this engine gets quite loud, especially in comparison to the other makes (notably the Sienna in our opinion was the quietest engine). It does have enough power to get up and go if you need to. I am having an issue with the most important part of this engine, and that is the OIL PUMP. After a few weeks of driving, I noticed a very loud whine at start up (cold starts) and it would continue as the engine was operating temperature. I took it back to my dealer and they gave me a loaner. They noticed the same noise and it took them 3 days and a call to Chrysler before they figured out that it was the oil pump. They replaced the pump with another factory unit (the second pump was already a superseded part number) and all seemed good. That lasted all of about 1 week before the noise returned. I again called my dealer and there is nothing they can do about it. I asked them to file a complaint on my behalf to Chrysler and they did. I have yet to hear back from Chrysler, but I am due for an oil change in about 500 miles so I will complain again. See my attached video of what the second oil pump sounds like. I am afraid of what the Winter months here in New England will do to this engine if this pump fails... The transmission while in ECON mode does a great job and it working as designed. It will skip a gear if it needs to, but the only downfall I have found is on hills, the computer does not down shift transmission like it should. I have to hit the go pedal for the downshift and then it goes. I only use the ECON mode in the city and it does have impressive fuel economy. If the ECON mode is off, fuel economy drops to about 18-19 MPG (hand calculated). Off to the factory installed roof rack. I don't know what the folks who designed the rack were thinking. It is not a "fully adjustable roof rack". The crossbars can be "deployed" or installed in three positions. The first crossbar can be installed at the front of the rack. The second crossbar is so close the third position (third position is the rear of the rack) it's almost useless. I purchased a Thule Roof Box and it can't be positioned to the rear of the roof as they are designed because of the locations that the crossbars must be in. If I install two crossbars (one on the front and the other to rear of the rack) I cannot secure the rear of the Thule Cargo box. I need about 6 more inches of adjust ability on the Thule Box. This could be avoided if the roof crossbars were fully adjustable (like my friends Sienna). My Grand Caravan had an MSRP of $30,275 and we purchased it for $25K (that does not include the 7 year/100K extended warranty). That is the reason we chose this model over the others. Looking back we wish we would have gone with the Sienna. Going with the Sienna would have cost us about 5K more and we would have lost the Stow N Go seating (which I have utilized). I cannot in good conscious recommend this minivan to you. The oil pump problem alone worries me that the longevity of this vehicle is not going to last me 10 years. Seriously TEST drive each make and model and decide for yourself. Unfortunate the price tag ultimately made the decision for us."
2 people out of 4 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."
16 people out of 30 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."
7 people out of 10 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."
8 people out of 13 found this review helpful