Track Tested: 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T


2012 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T

Just about a year ago at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show, Dodge Brand CEO Ralph Gilles (now CEO of SRT) rolled out a new version of the Dodge Grand Caravan, the R/T. This van, he said, was the "man van." We were hooked immediately.

The 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T is lowered by 12mm and gets new aerodynamics, heavier steering, an Eco button and optional 17-inch tires. On the inside things are dark: Black is the only color. Gilles described the driving experience as being like a GTI.

And after testing one, we can only assume he meant that it's like a GTI in the sense that both have non-defeat stability control. What else did we learn from the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T "Man Van" on our track? Click through to find out.

Vehicle: 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T

Odometer: 7,351
Date: 1/4/2012
Driver: Mike Monticello
Price: $29,995 (Base)

Specifications:
Drive Type: Transverse front engine, front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed automatic
Engine Type: Naturally aspirated, port-injected 3.6-liter V6
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 3,605/220
Redline (rpm): 6,500 (indicated)
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 283 @ 6,400
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 260 @ 4,400
Brake Type (front): 11.9-inch ventilated discs with 2-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 12.0-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type(front): Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Semi-independent twist-beam axle, coil springs, integrated stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): P225/65R17
Tire Size (rear): P225/65R17
Tire Brand: Kumho
Tire Model: Solus KH16
Tire Type: All-season
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,695

Test Results:

Acceleration:
0-30 (sec): 3.3 (3.3 w/TC OFF)
0-45 (sec): 5.3 (5.3 w/TC OFF)
0-60 (sec): 8.0 (8.0 w/TC OFF)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 7.7 (7.6 w/TC OFF)
0-75 (sec): 11.7 (11.6 w/TC OFF)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 16.1 @ 86.8 (16.0 @ 86.4 w/TC OFF)

Braking:
30-0 (ft): 31
60-0 (ft): 119

Handling:
Slalom (mph): 60.3 ( 60.1 w/TC OFF)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.76 ( 0.76 w/TC on)

Db @ Idle: 44.0
Db @ Full Throttle: 77.6
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 64.7

Acceleration: Pretty decent punch off the line with some wheelspin. Quick upshifts came at 6,200 rpm, but the gear ratio is such that the GC falls flat on its face after the 3-4 shift. Incredibly consistent runs, regardless of ESC on or not, Manual mode or Auto, power braking or straight from brake to throttle. Manual shifting is via console lever (slap left for downshifts). Does not blip throttle. Will not hold gears to redline.

Braking: Fairly firm pedal, reasonable amount of travel. Minimal nosedive, and tires felt like they were really gripping. A bit of pedal fade and brake odor after fourth stop. First stop was 121 feet. Shortest was 4th (out of 7) at 119 feet. Longest was sixth at 124 feet.

Handling:

Skid pad: Minimal ESC intrusion whether On or "Off," which was quite different from its constant intervention during the slalom. The steering felt a bit overboosted at such low speeds and the chassis proved unwilling to do much more than plow the front end.

Slalom: Fairly quick, direct steering and reasonably firm suspension give you the feeling you can really attack the cones. Until the ESC intervenes and stabs the brakes, that is. And ESC can't be fully deactivated, despite an "Off" button. It could go considerably quicker if not for this nanny-state. Also annoying was the transmission's upshifting into 4th gear during the run, despite being in Manual mode and despite being nowhere near its 6,200-rpm shift point or 6,500-rpm redline.

  2012 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T 2011 Grand Caravan Crew
0-30 (sec.): 3.3 3.3
0-45 (sec.): 5.3 5.3
0-60 (sec.): 8.0 8.0
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec.): 7.7 7.8
0-75 (sec.): 11.7 11.7
1/4-mile (sec @ mph): 16.1 @ 86.8 16.1 @ 86.2
30-0 (ft): 31 33
60-0 (ft): 119 130
Skid pad lateral accel (g): 0.76 0.75
Slalom: 60.3 61.1
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