By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.0
The 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan is locked in a struggle to regain turf it has lost to newer, sleeker, and more affordable competitors. A new pricing structure and more standard equipment across the line are only part of Dodge's battle plan, which it hopes will put the 2012 Grand Caravan minivan back on top of a segment essentially invented by Dodge. If its lackluster exterior styling isn't a put-off, there is much to like about the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan minivan. The Grand Caravan includes some segment exclusive features such as the efficient Stow 'n Go second-row seats that fold into the floor, and a best-in-class horsepower rating from its 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine. For those who need a purely work-oriented van, Ram carries a non-passenger version of the Grand Caravan (dubbed the Ram C/V) fitted with numerous options catering to your every delivery-oriented need.
If your minivan shopping list is all about functionality, features and price, the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan is bound to be an attractive option.
If you're looking for a minivan with a bit of an edge, the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan's rather conservative styling probably won't float your boat. Both the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna hold far higher resale and reliability ratings (as well as price tags), and the Sienna is the only van in this segment to offer the option of all-wheel drive (AWD).
The 2012 Dodge Caravan minivan carries over largely unchanged for 2012. A new American Value Package (AVP) is offered creating the lowest-priced minivan in the segment. The AVP package has a host of features including second- and third-row Stow 'n Go seating, cruise control, and a V6 engine.
Driving Impressions Thanks to last year's extensive overhaul of its suspension, steering and transmission, the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan is one of the best-handling and most enjoyable minivans on the road today....Of course, much of the Grand Caravan's thrill comes from its potent 283-horsepwoer V6 engine, which has tremendous pulling power yet achieves world-class fuel economy ratings of 17-mpg city and 25 highway. Low-end torque is what is required to move a heavy object quickly from a standing stop and the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan minivan has it in spades. An ample helping of sound-deadening material and a stiffer chassis help minimize outside road and wind noise as well as calm squeaks and rattles. The thin Stow 'n Go seats may look a bit stiff, but they are actually quite supportive and comfy, designed with special foam cushions that help fight fatigue on long trips. 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 Wi-Fi 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.
While the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan's exterior doesn't thrill us, its interior is a different story altogether. The large one-piece dash and detailed instrument clusters are among the nicest in the minivan world, featuring soft-touch surfaces, chrome bezels and colorful backlighting. The 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan minivan is loaded with storage areas, and on Crew and R/T trims, with an available "super console" between the front seats. This Super Console is large enough to hold 1-liter drinks or hide a large purse. Soft surfaces abound in the Grand Caravan, as do little details like premium stitching on the seats and clever overhead lighting throughout the cabin. The 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan's Stow 'n Go seating folds completely into the large floor wells, which can be used to store more stuff when the seats are in place. The third-row seat can be stowed or flipped back 180-degrees to create the perfect perch for tailgate parties. Among the Grand Caravan's more desirable options is a heated steering wheel, a power-folding 60/40 bench seat, built-in rechargeable LED flashlights and heated second-row seats.
Where it was once on the cutting edge of minivan design, the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan is now behind the curve. Although some nice exterior upgrades last year help add a bit more character, the overall boxy shape and flat sides stand in stark contrast to the elegant flowing features of the Nissan Quest and Honda Odyssey. Unique to the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan minivan is its Stow 'n Place roof-rack system featuring swiveling roof-rack crossbars that can stow away in the side rails, thus helping to reduce drag and wind noise when not in use. The Grand Caravan's large sliding side doors can be power operated and fitted with roll-down power windows (SXT, Crew and R/T trims). Rear shaded privacy glass covers most of the side glass, and, on upper-level trims, the rearmost glass panel can be vented for better airflow.
A base 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan SE-AVP includes keyless entry, heated side mirrors, 2-zone manual air conditioning, rear wiper/washer, rear defroster, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, Stow 'n Go second- and third-row seating, AM/FM/CD/MP3 4-speaker stereo with steering-wheel audio controls and auxiliary audio input jack, cloth seating and 16-inch steel wheels with wheel covers. All models feature a 3.6-liter V6 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, electronic traction and stability control and 4-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 four additional trims beyond the base SE-AVP: SE, SXT, 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 an Infinity 506-watt 9-speaker audio upgrade, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, satellite radio, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, rearview monitor, Uconnect Web mobile Wi-Fi 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 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan minivan offers only one engine choice: 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 6-speed automatic shifts seamlessly and, unlike in some other minivans 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 @ 6,400 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25 (gasoline), 12/18 (E85)
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."
4 people out of 6 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 6 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