The Dodge Grand Caravan, America's best-selling minivan and the car that started the minivan craze, has lost ground to numerous competitors in recent years. The 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan, however, brings class-exclusive entertainment technology to its already extremely versatile interior with an optional Blu-Ray DVD player. Despite a thorough overhaul in 2011 -- including a new engine, a re-engineered suspension and a refinished interior -- the Grand Caravan still seems pedestrian next to top models from Nissan, Toyota and Honda. Regardless, the Grand Caravan is a great family vehicle, and it's attractively priced. Buying American in this case doesn't mean you're taking one for the team. Rather, you're getting a world-class minivan, just like the first Dodge Caravan all those years ago.
Interested in the 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan? Here's what you need to know ...
What's New for 2013
The Grand Caravan saw a refresh in 2011, but for 2013 it has received one new feature: a class-exclusive optional Blu-Ray DVD player.
What We Like
Great value; plenty of options; much-improved interior quality; flexible seating configurations; available Cargo Van version
What We Don't
Outdated exterior design; lacks premium vibe and cutting-edge technology of some rivals; no all-wheel-drive option
After years of offering numerous engines, the Grand Caravan now employs solely a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 rated at 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Mated to the V6 is a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission. The new V6 offers best-in-class power with strong, if somewhat noisy, acceleration and impressive fuel economy. Best-in-class power is a price paid at the pump with a 17 miles per gallon city/25 mpg hwy fuel economy rating.
Options & Standard Features
The 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan comes in five trim levels: American Value Package (AVP), SE, SXT, Crew and R/T. Each trim level comes standard with the 283-hp V6, a 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.
For a shockingly low MSRP of $20,995, the AVP model offers 16-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, heated exterior mirrors, power accessories, dual-zone manual climate control, cruise control, handy Stow 'n Go rear seats, a full roster of safety equipment and a 4-speaker audio system with an auxiliary audio jack.
The SE ($24,190) adds body-color exterior accents, tri-zone manual climate control, a removable center console with four cup-holders and a 6-speaker audio system.
The SXT ($27,690) steps up to 16-in alloy wheels, dual power-sliding doors, a power lift gate and power adjustable pedals, while the Crew ($28,795) gets fancy with 17-in alloy wheels, chrome exterior trim, tri-zone automatic climate control, a power driver's seat and a 6.5-in touchscreen infotainment system with hard-drive-based digital music storage and an integrated rearview camera.
The sport-themed "Man Van" R/T ($30,995) includes a sport-tuned suspension, black leather upholstery with red stitching, a power front passenger's seat and a 9-speaker Infinity audio system with a subwoofer.
Notable options include iPod connectivity, Bluetooth and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with a 9-in flip-down screen.
The Grand Caravan is also sold under the name RAM Cargo Van as a windowless work van -- the only current minivan to have undergone such a conversion.
The 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags (front, front side, full-length side curtain).
In December 2012, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Grand Caravan a Top Safety Pick. In government crash testing, the Grand Caravan received an overall rating of four stars out of five, including four stars for frontal impacts, five stars for side impacts and four stars in the rollover test.
Behind the Wheel
The current Grand Caravan doesn't have the most refined chassis in the minivan class, and that's evident over big ruts and potholes in which the Dodge shimmies and shakes worse than most rivals. Despite the Grand Caravan's crude chassis, the highway ride is quiet and relaxed. With a best-in-class horsepower rating, the Grand Caravan has more than enough power to get out of its own way. As for handling, surprisingly, the Grand Caravan actually has reasonably precise steering, which mitigates the sensation that you're driving a bus.
Other Cars to Consider
Honda Odyssey -- The recently redesigned Odyssey boasts comfy accommodations and an impressive technology suite, including an optional vacuum in the rear cargo area. The Odyssey suffers from dull dynamics and a body design some will find questionable.
Nissan Quest -- Based on a Japanese-market van, the Quest is taller and narrower than the rest, but it also has the nicest interior and an eager-to-please V6 engine.
Toyota Sienna -- Also recently redesigned, the Sienna offers the unusual option of a 4-cylinder engine. Customers not obsessed with fuel-efficiency will appreciate the 3.5-liter V6. The Sienna also offers a novel split-screen entertainment system that allows two kids to do their own thing simultaneously.
Call us cheap, but we'd take the AVP for a hair under $21,000. You get incredible utility for that price, and if you want more features, you can take some of the savings and add them via the aftermarket.