Full 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan Review
What's New for 2013
For 2013, the price drops on the Dodge Grand Caravan's base trim level, but it also substitutes a cheaper second-row bench seat for Stow 'n Go captain's chairs. Upper trims receive more standard features and the optional Blu-ray-compatible DVD entertainment system (which now offers an HDMI input and dual USB ports). Stow 'n Go seats are now called Super Stow 'n Go and require only the tug of one lever to disappear quickly.
Back in 1984, the space-efficient family shuttle known as the minivan was introduced by the Dodge Caravan. The bigger Grand Caravan soon followed, as did a number of rivals that sprang up like dandelions on the well-manicured suburban lawns of the target demographic. Dodge still is an innovator in minivan design -- hide-away second-row captain's chairs, for example -- yet the 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan also finds itself fighting some very well-groomed competition.
The Grand Caravan's recent chassis, powertrain and interior overhauls make it a better minivan that keeps pace with its Japanese rivals. The DGC also offers relatively agile handling, class-leading power paired with respectable fuel economy and a cabin trimmed in quality materials with plenty of convenience features. All but the base trim come equipped with the clever Super Stow 'n Go second-row seats that fold flat into the floor with the flick of a lever.
Choosing a minivan this year won't be easy. Compared to the Grand Caravan (and its Chrysler Town & Country twin), the Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest and Toyota Sienna provide smoother transmission performance, more comfortable rides and generally more comfortable seating. There's no denying the Dodge's all-out cargo-carrying advantage thanks to those Super Stow 'n Go second-row seats. Unless you plan to regularly switch between people mover and cargo van, we suggest trying the others before making a decision.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan is a seven-passenger minivan offered in five trim levels: American Value Package (AVP), SE, SXT, Crew and R/T.
The AVP comes with 16-inch steel wheels, heated mirrors, power front windows, dual-zone air-conditioning, a second-row reclining/folding/removable bench seat, a conversation mirror and a four-speaker audio system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The SE package adds body-color door handles/side molding, tinted rear windows, triple-zone climate control (with rear air-conditioning), second-row captain's chairs with the Super Stow 'N Go fold-into-the-floor feature, a front floor console and a six-speaker audio system. The SXT adds a power liftgate, 17-inch alloy wheels, power sliding rear doors, power rear windows, a larger floor console and power-adjustable pedals.
Stepping up to the Crew trim level gets you remote start, automatic headlights, foglights, a roof rack, chrome body-side accents, tri-zone automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel/shift knob, an overhead console, a power driver seat, power-adjustable pedals, a trip computer, a 115-volt power outlet, a touchscreen display and an upgraded audio system with digital music storage.
The sporty R/T tops the DGC lineup with unique 17-inch alloy wheels, a body-color grille, performance-tuned suspension and brakes, leather first- and second-row seats, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, a back-up camera and a premium Infinity sound system.
A variety of option packages are available depending on trim level. Highlights include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, satellite radio, an iPod/USB audio interface, heated front- and second-row seats, a navigation system, automatic wipers, a trailer tow package (with trailer sway control), rear parking and cross-traffic sensors, a blind-spot warning system and second- and third-row sunshades. Upper trim levels also offer a Blu-ray-compatible entertainment system with an HDMI input and dual USB ports (for charging electronic devices).
Powertrains and Performance
Every 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan features a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission sends power to the front wheels.
In Edmunds testing, the 2013 Grand Caravan accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8 seconds -- average for a minivan. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined.
Standard safety features for the 2013 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, a Grand Caravan Crew came to a stop from 60 mph in 130 feet -- an average distance for a minivan. The R/T, with its better brakes, stops in 119 feet.
In government crash testing, the Grand Caravan was given an overall score of four out of five stars, with four stars for overall frontal-impact and five stars for overall side-impact crashes. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Dodge Grand Caravan was awarded the highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength crash tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Grand Caravan's interior features quality materials and solid build quality that makes it equal to most rivals. Its seven-passenger seating matches the Nissan Quest, although it falls one passenger short of the Odyssey or Sienna. The front seats are supportive, but even drivers of average height note that the driver seat doesn't slide far enough rearward. The second-row seat cushions tilt rearward slightly to permit even long-legged passengers to find a comfortable position. The third row is tilted even farther back, which children and smaller adults may find strange and uncomfortable.
Unlike minivans that require removal of the second-row seats for maximum cargo capacity, every Grand Caravan except the AVP model feature Super Stow 'n Go second-row seats (optional on the AVP). Stowing the seats couldn't be easier -- one hand and one lever make them disappear into the floor. The third-row seats fold backward 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 the second- and third-row seats opens up 143.8 cubes, comparable to other minivans.
The 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan accelerates and handles as well as its rivals, but segment leaders like the Odyssey and Sienna still deliver more refined powertrain performance (smoother shifting, quieter operation) and ride quality. The Dodge's steering also feels slightly heavier, requiring more effort, and the suspension is less compliant over the rough stuff compared to the competition. We don't feel these are absolute deal-breakers, but some drivers will be more sensitive than others to these shortcomings.