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2017 Dodge Grand Caravan: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2017

The Dodge Grand Caravan, the model that started the minivan craze so many years ago, has fallen well behind its competitors -- and now even a member of its own family. While the 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan offers a versatile interior and a wide range of comfort and convenience features, it's a more pedestrian, budget-oriented choice compared to top competitors from Honda, Toyota, Kia and, importantly, Chrysler.

Yes, as in the Chrysler Pacifica minivan, which replaced the Grand Caravan's Chrysler Town & Country twin for 2017 and will almost certainly spell the end for Dodge's original minivan. The Pacifica is a stylish, fully up-to-date family hauler that is without question the far superior vehicle.

For now, however, you can still buy a Grand Caravan, and doing so is all about budget. It's not only priced lower than comparably equipped minivans, but it will be available with substantial incentives that should let you get into a new minivan at a price otherwise not possible.

What's New for 2017?

As it prepares for extinction, the Grand Caravan's trim level herd has been thinned.

What We Like

Good value; flexible seating configurations

What We Don't

Subpar fuel economy and crash scores; interior looks and feels low-rent; overall lack of refinement; dated technology interface; fewer available features than other vans

How Much?

$25,000-$33,400

Fuel Economy

Every 2017 Grand Caravan has a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard. Fuel economy estimates stand at a disappointing 17 miles per gallon in the city, 25 mpg on the highway and 20 mpg in combined driving.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan comes in four trim levels: the SE, SE Plus, SXT and GT.

The SE ($25,000) comes standard with seven seats, a second-row bench seat, 17-inch steel wheels, tri-zone climate control, cloth upholstery and a 6-speaker sound system. Midway through the 2017 model year, the Grand Caravan will also come standard with a rearview camera and a 6.5-in touchscreen. We'd suggest looking for one of those. A package called the Uconnect Hands-Free Group adds must-have features like a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth, satellite radio and a USB port. Power rear windows are optional.

The SE Plus ($27,700) adds all the above options plus 17-in alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, nicer cloth upholstery and Dodge's Stow 'n Go captain's chairs that fold into the floor.

Next, the SXT ($30,400) steps things up with automatic headlights, roof rails, fog lamps, power-sliding doors, a power lift gate, a power driver's seat and leather/faux-suede mix upholstery. This trim's Driver Convenience Group package includes extra storage, heated front and second-row seats, a heated steering wheel and rear side sunshades.

Those items are included on the Grand Caravan GT ($33,400), which also adds sportier wheels and suspension tuning, different exterior trim, full leather upholstery, a power passenger seat, a 9-speaker sound system and, at least until midway through the year, a rearview camera and 6.5-in touchscreen interface. A navigation system will be standard midway through the model year. Only the GT can be optioned with the Safety Sphere Group, which includes blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning systems.

All trims can be equipped with a rear seat entertainment system that includes a single overhead screen, a DVD player, an HDMI input, an extra USB port, satellite radio and wireless headphones.

Safety

The 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain). Safety options include a backup camera (becomes standard midway through the model year), a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and automatic wipers.

In crash testing performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 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.

In tests conducted by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Grand Caravan earned strong scores in four of the group's five tests -- though it received a troubling Poor rating in the firm's challenging small-overlap front crash test.

Behind the Wheel

The Grand Caravan's aging chassis is evident over big ruts and potholes, which causes the Dodge to shimmy and shake worse than most rivals. Despite the crude chassis, the Grand Caravan's highway ride is at least reasonably quiet and relaxed. With a strong horsepower rating, it also has more than enough power to get out of its own way.

Still, every other minivan is more refined and comfortable to drive, and usually handles better as well. Their cabins also boast more comfortable and spacious seating -- the second-row Stow 'N Go seats have never been especially comfy and the driver's seat doesn't slide back far enough for many drivers.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Chrysler Pacifica -- The Grand Caravan's newest competitor is just across the showroom wearing a Chrysler badge. It has all the latest safety features and high-tech gadgets, though it'll be more expensive. It's probably worth it.

2017 Honda Odyssey -- The Odyssey boasts comfy accommodations and an impressive technology suite, including an optional vacuum in the rear cargo area. But the Odyssey suffers from dull dynamics and styling that some will find questionable.

2017 Kia Sedona -- The Sedona touts handsome styling, a lot of equipment for the money and an impressive array of features and gadgets. It also comes with Kia's excellent 10-year powertrain warranty. Realistically, it's the smarter budget buy.

2017 Toyota Sienna -- The Sienna offers a powerful V6, two different driving flavors (comfort and sport), an especially comfortable and versatile second row, and the unique availability of all-wheel drive.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Dodge Grand Caravan: New Car Review - Autotrader