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 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
By Jackson on Thursday, August 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "great price, lots of utility, great warranty."
Cons: "Reliability concerns"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Vehicle had transmission work after noticing loud noise during shifting but this was covered under warranty as was the leaky intake manifold gasket. Has had repair for malfunctioning EVAP canister which cost 40 bucks. Van sat for 8 months before i purchased but price was right and frankly i did expect to put a little money into it because it sat so long. Rides well and is excellent family hauler. I would and am considering trading this van in for new one."