By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 7.5
Although in the minds of many consumers minivans are quickly being replaced by large SUVs, they still play a crucial role in the lives of many families. The 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan remains a major player in the segment it created, offering excellent versatility, loads of features and an entry price the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna can’t touch. Visually, the Grand Caravan is about the least exciting family hauler you can buy, but it’s what’s inside the Grand Caravan that counts. From its 2nd-row Stow ‘n Go seating to its powerful standard V6 engine, Dodge’s 2017 Grand Caravan minivan holds a number of advantages over the Nissan Quest, Kia Sedona and even the class-leading Honda Odyssey.
If your family’s comfort, safety and overall happiness are more important than impressing people with your daily driver, a 2017 Grand Caravan minivan makes an excellent choice. A low price and powerful standard engine give the Grand Caravan a leg up over similar competitors.
If you’re hoping for the same reliability and resale figures found with the Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna, Dodge’s 2017 Grand Caravan just won’t do. The Kia Sedona offers a longer warranty, and only the Sienna offers the option of all-wheel drive.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2017, the Dodge Grand Caravan gets a revised trim line consisting of SE, SE Plus, SXT and GT. A 6.5-in touch-screen radio/rearview camera is now standard, and equipment packages have been shuffled to give customers more features without a price increase.
From a driver’s perspective, the 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan isn’t thrilling, but it’s also not laborious. While you’ll get better steering response and a firmer ride from the Honda Odyssey...
... and Nissan Quest, the Grand Caravan isn’t sloppy, and its softer ride may actually be a bonus. Dodge’s 3.6-liter V6 is a wonderful engine, delivering 283 horsepower that is most welcome when trying to get a fully loaded van around slow-moving traffic or across high-elevation passes. Equip the Grand Caravan passenger van with the optional tow package, and you can pull up to 3,600 pounds. Be sure to give yourself plenty of room to turn around, however, as the Grand Caravan’s turning circle is significantly wider than those of the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Kia Sedona. It’s also worth noting that the Grand Caravan lacks the latest infotainment and driver assists found in newer vans, such as the Chrysler Pacifica.
3.6-LITER V6 ENGINE
If you’ve not been a fan of V6 engines in the past, the 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan minivan’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 will quickly change your mind. Smooth, powerful and returning good fuel economy, this engine comes standard even on the most inexpensive trim.
Price comparisons quickly reveal the Dodge Grand Caravan for 2017 to be the least expensive minivan you can buy. And Dodge doesn’t punish customers for going basic, with a powerful V6, loads of standard features and a decent warranty.
The 2017 Grand Caravan by Dodge offers a clever and comfortable interior for its seven passengers. One of its aces is cargo flexibility, primarily due to the Stow 'n Go 2nd-row seats, which quickly fold into the floor to maximize cargo space without removing the heavy seats. The downside is that this limits the Grand Caravan to only seven passengers, unlike most of its competitors, which can seat up to eight. Those seven have comfortable seats, two available rear video screens and plenty of other amenities. The driver gets a nicely designed instrument panel and plenty of knickknack space.
If you think form should follow function, you're going to love what Dodge has done with the 2017 Grand Caravan. It's not ugly by any means, but the plain wraps around a very functional and family-friendly vehicle. The two sliding doors are a godsend to anybody who's ever been trapped in a crowded parking lot, and they're available with a power sliding mechanism as well. If there's not enough cargo space behind the third row, the Stow 'n Place roof-rack system uses swiveling roof-rack crossbars that can be stowed away, out of sight, in the side rails.
The base Grand Caravan SE comes pretty well equipped, starting with the 283-horsepower engine, 17-inch wheel covers, remote keyless entry and air conditioning in front and in the rear. It also comes with tilt/telescope steering wheel, rearview camera, power windows, power locks, steering-wheel-mounted controls for the 6-speaker audio system and cruise control, storage bins hidden in the floor in front of the 2nd-row seats, electronic traction and stability control, and front, front side-impact and full-length side-curtain airbags. The SXT adds a power driver’s seat, fog lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, power-sliding side doors and liftgate plus the Stow ‘n Place roof rack.
The Grand Caravan SE offers a DVD entertainment system and Uconnect hands-free package while the SXT can be equipped with the Driver’s Convenience Group that adds overhead consoles, tri-zone air conditioning, heated steering wheel and heated front seats, 2nd- and 3rd-row side-window sunshades, a garage-door opener, Uconnect voice command, overhead ambient lighting and rear swiveling reading lamps. This same package on the GT trim adds heated 2nd -row seats. The GT can be equipped with the Safety Sphere Group that brings rear cross-traffic detection, rear parking sensors and a blind-spot monitor.
Only one engine is available for the 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan: a 3.6-liter V6 engine with 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Known as the Pentastar, it's an excellent V6 engine, delivering smooth power and pretty good fuel economy. The engine gets paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission that delivers smooth shift action and, unlike some other transmissions in other vehicles, doesn't have the annoying characteristic of continually "hunting" for the correct gear. Finally, the V6 is E85-compatible, so it can operate on blends of gasoline and ethanol.
283 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25 mpg (gasoline), 12/18 mpg (E85)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
Dodge’s Grand Caravan SE for 2017 carries a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just shy of $25,500, including the destination charge. The SE Plus adds about $2,700 to that price, but the $31,300 SXT model offers the best blend of features and price, in our opinion. The GT starts just under $34,500 and with options can run into the $39,000 range. The Dodge's price advantage over the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna is clear: The base price on a Sienna is more than $4,000 higher, while a base Honda Odyssey LX is nearly $5,000 higher than a Grand Caravan SE. Before heading to the dealer, be sure to check KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying in your area. Also, note that while the prices are lower in the beginning, the Dodge doesn't hold its value as well as its Japanese or Korean competitors.