By KBB.com Editors
The Grand Caravan may have been the vehicle that started the American minivan revolution, but it now has plenty of competition. A somewhat bland redesign a few years back, coupled with some quality issues, allowed the Grand Caravan's rivals to slip past the venerable family hauler, a situation worsened by Chrysler's financial meltdown. The 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan looks to regain some buyers by offering a host of interior improvements, aggressive new pricing and a freshened appearance. Still, with stalwarts such as the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna firmly entrenched in the market – and the bargain-priced Kia Sedona – the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan has its work cut out, especially in a time of rising fuel prices and a still-shaky economy.
If you're looking for a full-size family hauler that's as clever about maximizing space as it is pampering your kids, the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan leads the pack.
There is a lot to like in the newly-improved 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan, but the jury is still out on its long term reliability and resale value prospects. Also, if all-wheel-drive is an important consideration in your next minivan purchase, only the Toyota Sienna now offers it.
The 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan receives a major overhaul, with more attention paid to its interior and exterior styling, a revised suspension and new equipment packaging. The standard powertrain on all Grand Caravan models is now Dodge's Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 engine teamed to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Driving Impressions Improvements to the suspension, steering and transmission have transformed the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan into a world-class minivan. The new 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 has lots of power and low-end torque...(torque is what helps quickly move a loaded minivan from a dead stop or when passing), yet delivers relatively good fuel economy, at least on the highway. More sound-deadening material and structural improvements help quiet the Grand Caravan's cabin, while improved seat cushions help fight fatigue on long trips; the Stow 'n Go seating has also been improved this year, with more padding and softer materials. Although we found the Grand Caravan easy to drive, its somewhat wide turning radius makes U-turns and tight parking maneuvers a bit more burdensome.
Uconnect hard-drive navigation
With navigation by Garmin, Sirius Travel Link and a 30GB hard drive for music storage, the voice-activated navigation system does everything except drive (and it probably won't be long before we see that.) You can even add a mobile WiFi unit to the system, transforming your Grand Caravan into a rolling internet hot spot.
Perfect for a day at the game or a shaded family picnic, the Grand Caravan's third-row seat can be flipped 180 degrees backward, creating a comfortable couch on which to perch your weary bones.
Dodge has made major improvements to the 2011 Grand Caravan's interior, adding a new one-piece dash, a larger and more detailed instrument cluster and a number of new storage compartments, including an available "super console" fitted between the front seats (it can conceal a large purse and accommodate one-liter drink bottles.) Fit and finish are vastly better this year, with more soft-touch materials on the dash and door panels, better lighting and more ergonomic seating. The Grand Caravan also offers one-touch Stow 'n Go seats that fold flush into the floor and a tailgate third-row seat that flips 180 degrees to face outward when the rear hatch is open. Some of the Grand Caravan's more desirable options include a heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats, a power-folding 60/40 bench seat and a built-in rechargeable LED flashlight.Exterior
Although the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan retains its familiar silhouette, the new model includes more detailing in the grille, headlamps, wheel designs and rear fascia. An available Stow 'n Place roof-rack system allows the roof-rack cross bars to be concealed in the side rails when not in use, thus reducing wind noise and improving aerodynamics. Large sliding side doors permit quick and easy access to the Grand Caravan's interior and shaded privacy glass keeps prying eyes from seeing valuables left in the open. All models except the Express feature power-retractable side windows and third-row power vent windows, while the Crew and R/T trim feature power sliding side doors.
A base 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan Express includes keyless entry, heated side mirrors, three-zone manual air conditioning with rear-seat heater controls, rear wiper/washer, rear defroster, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, Stow 'n Go second- and third-row seating, AM/FM/CD/MP3 six-speaker stereo with steering-wheel audio controls and auxiliary audio input jack, 16-inch steel wheels with wheel covers and cloth seating. All models feature a 3.6-liter V6 engine, six-speed automatic transmission, electronic traction and stability control and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. Standard safety equipment includes front, front side-impact and full-length side-curtain airbags.
The 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan offers three additional trims beyond the base Express: Mainstreet, Crew and R/T. Each trim adds various features that are standard on some and optional on others. Among the more notable options are the Stow 'n Place roof rack, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, leather seating surfaces, a power liftgate and the Uconnect GPS hard-drive-based navigation and entertainment system featuring 30GB hard drive, Garmin navigation and voice-command feature. Other options of note include a 506-watt nine-speaker audio upgrade, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, satellite radio, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, rearview monitor, Uconnect Web mobile WiFi Hot Spot, rear backup sensors, Blind Spot Monitoring system with Cross Path protection, manual sunshades, rain-sensing wipers, power-adjustable pedals and power sliding side doors.
The 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan sees its powertrain choices paired from three to just one: A 3.6-liter V6 engine developing a class-leading 283 horsepower. We think this is one of Dodge's best V6 engines to date and a long overdue requirement for the Grand Caravan. The new six-speed automatic shifts seamlessly and, unlike some other minivan's we've tested, resists the urge to hunt around for the perfect gear. The new V6 is also E85-compatible, meaning it can run on a combination of gasoline and ethanol.
283 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
260 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25 (Gasoline), 12/18 (E85)
By RonC32 on Monday, March 30, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 49,300overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Value, Very Comfortable"
Cons: "Spare tire hard to get to."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Servers the purpose it was designed for very, very well. I've had this vehicle for 5 years and have had zero work done on it other than the routine maintenance. Tires and Battery has been replaced and tires of course. Visibility it excellent and very comfortable on the highway and in the city. With the seats down, you can haul just about anything you can haul in a pickup. Also have pulled a very small trailer without any extra effort. While this is an old design, it continues to fulfill expectations."
By mskier on Tuesday, March 10, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 57,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Cons: "car starts making lots of noises around 75,000"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I've been driving Caravans since 1984, starting with 4-speed manual trans on floor (that's right). I take them into deep snow with 4 snow tires to top of VT, great cars; stow'n go seats are very good, drop the middle seats and kids sleep on the floor, plenty of leg room. Have had good luck with my vehicles despite complaints by others. Could be because I take good care of them and don't beat them. Front seats are designed to cup your body like a baseball glove vs. arched lower-back seats in Odyssey and Sienna. For long drives this makes a huge difference. No, I don't work for Dodge or Fiat, just a loyal customer going back to 1970's slant six engines in Dodge vans and Darts"
8 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Teri on Saturday, March 07, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 118,621overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "inside only has 1 small (tiny) hole in drver's sea"
Cons: "CV joints clicking barely, right rotor not the bes"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Needs CV Joints they're clicking real quietly right now. Back passenger tail-light still works at least, but the light cover is glued, but at least still works. Small (tiny) dent on the right of the rear light.....I mean tiny."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Ford lover on Friday, February 20, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 66,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "about 18 to 19 mpg in everyday driving"
Cons: "no heat vent to warm up feet area"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Only bought it to carry my handicapped dad around, but do really like it. Comfortable, drives good and has been very dependable with no mechanical problems."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Ole Fred on Sunday, February 15, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 69,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great combination of sports car and dump truck"
Cons: "Poor cruise control speed maintenance on hills"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Not eye catching; blends in with the crowd. Excellent acceleration, braking and handling. Cruise control loses 5 mph on highway hills (most annoying feature of vehicle). Interior is spacious, comfortable and well laid out. Lots of space for cargo and passengers. I'll keep this until one of us dies (me or the van)."
4 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Festus on Friday, February 06, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good mileage, good acceleration, good traveling ca"
Cons: "brakes, supsension noise, flaky tranmisson."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"Had to replace brake rotors.....suspension noise in rear cannot be found nor solved. Car drives ok, good mileage..but seems cheap...lousy resale. Previously had a 98 Gr Caravan. Great vehicle. Bought an 05 and hated it...traded it with 2000 miles...for a 2008...had transmission issues, lousy rear suspension. Traded that for the 2011...transmission is flaky. Most likely will NOT buy another. EXCEPT--they are (minivans) the most sensible vehicle on the market and can't find an equal for the price. A true conundrum.."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful