KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 6/13/2011
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.
You'll Like This Car If...
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.
You May Not Like This Car If...
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.
What's Significant About This Car?
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.
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.
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.
Notable Standard Equipment
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.
Notable Optional Equipment
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.
Under the Hood
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)
The 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan Express has a base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $25,000; the price will climb past $38,000 for a fully-loaded Crew or R/T model. The Grand Caravan's base price is among the lowest in the category, yet it features the most powerful standard engine. By comparison, the Toyota Sienna V6 costs about $1,800 more, while the entry-level Honda Odyssey will set you back nearly an additional $4,000. We expect our Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to reflect real-world transaction prices – before any available incentives – within a few hundred dollars of sticker price. And, although the Grand Caravan may have a cheaper entry price, we don't expect it to retain resale value as well as the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.