Full 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan Review
What's New for 2011
Though not fully redesigned, the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan receives numerous styling, powertrain, suspension and interior revisions.
In the time since the Dodge Caravan ushered in a new era of family transportation way back in 1984, minivans have seen their fair share of changes. But nothing will likely compare to the 2011 model year, as every vehicle in this category offers significant improvements or full redesigns.
The 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan is one such minivan. Though the van's underlying structure is the same, Dodge has changed just about everything else in hopes of making the "DGC" a more appealing model this year. More aggressive exterior styling and a lower ride height give the latest Grand Caravan some attitude, but the improvements run more than skin deep. Unlike in years past, there is just one engine choice: the new 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, which makes a class-leading 283 horsepower and returns better fuel economy than last year's top 4.0-liter V6.
Inside the cabin, the new DGC sports a more contemporary design as well as welcome improvements in both materials quality and workmanship. Dodge engineers also have refined the suspension, yielding better driving dynamics and road-holding confidence. The Swivel 'n Go seating option is gone, but Stow 'n Go seats return with added strength and comfort. These second- and third-row seats fold flat into the floor to provide a level surface for loading. (Other minivans require the manual removal of their second-row seats to achieve maximum cargo capacity.)
While the 2011 Dodge Caravan and its twin, the Chrysler Town and Country, are much improved, they still come up a bit short when compared to the Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest and Toyota Sienna, all of which have been redesigned for this year. The Odyssey and Sienna remain the segment leaders, with better all-around capabilities, more refined drivetrains and additional available features.
If you regularly change your minivan's interior configuration from passenger transport to cargo hauler, the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan beats the competition with Stow 'n Go seats. Otherwise, we recommend checking out the competition first.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Dodge Caravan minivan can seat up to seven passengers and is offered in five trim levels: C/V, Express, Mainstreet, Crew and R/T.
The C/V is intended for commercial use and its limited features include 16-inch steel wheels, heated mirrors, a suspension tuned for commercial use, cruise control, rubber floor coverings, cloth upholstery, power front windows, keyless entry, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone air-conditioning and a two-speaker sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack.
The Express model is the entry-level passenger model and features a touring suspension, carpeting, tri-zone air-conditioning, a removable floor-mounted center console, second-row Stow 'n' Go bucket seats, a conversation mirror and a six-speaker audio system. The Mainstreet trim adds 16-inch alloy wheels and power second-row and rear windows, and is eligible for more optional features as well.
Stepping up to the Crew trim level gets you 17-inch wheels, foglights, a roof rack, power sliding doors, tri-zone automatic climate control, added interior storage in the center console, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power driver seat, power-adjustable pedals, a trip computer, a universal garage door opener, a touchscreen display and an upgraded audio system with satellite radio and digital music storage.
The sporty R/T lies at the top of the DGC lineup with performance-tuned suspension, first- and second-row leather seats, a power-adjustable front passenger seat and a premium Infiniti sound system.
Available options on select models include a power liftgate, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, running boards, a trailer tow package, rear parking and cross-traffic sensors, blind-spot monitoring, second- and third-row sunshades, a rearview camera, a navigation system with real-time traffic, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, a nine-speaker sound system, iPod integration, a rear-seat entertainment system, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Powertrains and Performance
All 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan models are powered by a new 3.6-liter V6 that produces 283 hp and 260 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. In Edmunds testing, the 2011 Grand Caravan accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 8.3 seconds -- about a half-second slower than the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.
Standard safety features for the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan include active front head restraints, driver knee airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, front-seat side airbags, antilock disc brakes, stability control and traction control. Optional features include a blind-spot monitoring system, rear parking and cross-traffic sensors and a rearview camera.
In Edmunds brake testing, the Grand Caravan came to a stop from 60 mph in 130 feet -- an average distance for a minivan.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan's interior represents a significant improvement over its predecessors. The new one-piece dash and center stack look less like they come from a delivery truck, and the overall workmanship also achieves a higher standard of quality.
The bottom cushions of the second-row seats are slightly low to the floor, but they are tilted back slightly to make the seating position comfortable for passengers with long legs. The third-row seats are also comfortable, but generally only for smaller adults, as headroom is limited. The rear quarters afford easy access thanks to a wide opening behind the middle row. Several Edmunds editors of different heights have noticed a lack of legroom for the driver, however.
Unlike other minivans that require the removal of the middle row of seats to achieve maximum cargo capacity, the Grand Caravan benefits from its Stow 'n Go second-row seats that fold flat into the floor. Operating these seats is fairly simple, and only a quick tug of a strap and a few gentle yanks are required to make them disappear into the floor. The third-row seats fold into a deep cargo well, but require several more steps to transform. Luggage space behind the rear seats is a generous 33 cubic feet. Stowing all seats opens up 143.8 cubes, comparable to other minivans.
The multiple mechanical changes make the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan a contender. But segment leaders like the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna are still steps ahead through their enhancements for 2011. By comparison, the Grand Caravan lacks some of the refinement found in the Honda and Toyota. The engine, while powerful, sounds and feels rougher, with an odd whistling noise under deceleration. The six-speed automatic transmission does an admirable job of keeping power on tap, but gearchanges can be jarring. Steering is slightly heavier and the suspension is a bit less compliant as well. On the highway, we also detected creaks and squeaks, although nothing compared to the outgoing model.