by kkollwitz on Jan 22, 2015 Vehicle: 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan American Value Package 4dr Minivan (3.6L 6cyl 6A)
In July we decided to pass our 157k 2004 Montana on to our kids. Shopped lots of under-$20k small cars: Fit, Cruze, Sonic, Fiesta, Focus, etc. Fun and thrifty, but nothing was moving us. We still liked minivans. Test-drove a 2014 AVP- wow! I love the no-nonsense styling, brakes, engine and handling; my wife likes the space and Stow n Go. We are both pleased with the base package, the manual seats suit us both, and the auxiliary jack makes it easy to play MP3s.
The value-focused SE Plus and SXT Plus trim levels are added to the 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan. Seventeen-inch wheels replace 16-inchers as standard and power-adjustable pedals no longer are available.
All manner of vehicles, particularly the ever-growing "crossover" class, purport to be family-oriented, but if you have either a lot of family or a lot of cargo to consistently move from place to place, it's still almost impossible to beat a minivan. And in many respects it's hard to beat the originator of the genre, Dodge's all-things-to-all-people Grand Caravan.
Chrysler long had a rather confusing array of minivan models from both its Dodge and Chrysler brands, but buying one is much simpler now that each brand's lineup has been pared to a single model. For Dodge, the 2015 Grand Caravan essentially is the culmination of everything most minivan buyers over the years proved was most important in a family hauler: plenty of engine power combined with reasonable fuel economy and Chrysler's still-brilliant Stow 'n Go instantly disappearing second-row seating.
What you don't get, unfortunately, is the utmost in refinement. For many drivers simply doing the weekly school run and grocery-store duties, the Grand Caravan's shortcomings may not even be noticeable. But longer trips likely will reveal that this Dodge people mover doesn't ride as compliantly as its Japanese competitors, nor are its engine and transmission as smooth or silent. There's a little more road and wind noise, too, although once again, this is conspicuous more at highway speeds than around town. The Grand Caravan's cabin finishes also aren't quite up to the competition's standards in a few places.
These are small flaws, certainly, but they show up nonetheless when comparing the DGC to its well-executed rivals such as the 2015 Honda Odyssey and 2015 Toyota Sienna. Both of these popular choices have fine engines, nicely appointed cabins and excellent road manners. The Sienna can also handle up to a total of eight occupants, where the Grand Caravan's limit is seven. Slightly rarer though no less worth your consideration is the 2015 Nissan Quest, nor should you overlook Kia's fully redesigned 2015 Sedona this year.
As there is a rich pool of strong entries, we recommend thoroughly considering all the choices for a minivan. But given that a well-equipped Caravan is generally less expensive than the competition, that advantage could be the ultimate deciding factor in the Dodge's favor.
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Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan is a seven-passenger minivan offered in six trim levels: American Value Package (AVP), SE, SE Plus, SXT, SXT Plus and R/T.
The bargain priced AVP trim has a reasonably solid standard equipment list: 17-inch steel wheels; heated mirrors; power locks, mirrors and front windows; dual-zone air-conditioning; a second-row reclining/folding/removable bench seat; an overhead console; a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; a conversation mirror and a four-speaker audio system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The SE adds rear privacy glass, tri-zone climate control (with rear air-conditioning), second-row captain's chairs with the Stow 'n Go fold-into-the-floor feature, a front floor console and a six-speaker audio system.
The SE Plus gets body-color heated side mirrors, special upholstery and trim, an overhead console and power windows for the second and third rows.
The SXT adds alloy wheels, roof rails, power rear windows and a larger floor console. Moving to the SXT also brings a power liftgate and power sliding rear doors as well as access to certain optional equipment and packages, including a rearview camera and a Blu-ray DVD rear-seat entertainment system.
For the SXT Plus, you get the SXT's standard equipment along with the Uconnect hands-free group (which also includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, voice command capability, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, steering-wheel audio controls and satellite radio) and an eight-way power driver seat
Top of the line for the 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan is the R/T. It incorporates all of the standard equipment of the other three trim levels, plus 17-inch alloy wheels with special tires, a body-colored grille, a performance-tuned suspension, remote engine start, automatic headlights, foglights, black interior accents, unique interior lighting, tri-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather first- and second-row seats, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar adjustment), a rear overhead console, a trip computer, a 115-volt power outlet, a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone connectivity and an upgraded nine-speaker audio system with satellite radio and a USB port.
For the midlevel SE and SXT, a single-DVD entertainment bundle is available. It adds the R/T's standard touchscreen and audio system along with a 9-inch second-row display screen and an HDMI input. The SXT Plus and R/T can also be outfitted with a Dual DVD/Blu-ray Entertainment package that boasts 9-inch screens for the second and third rows as well as the touchscreen display.
Available for all trims except the AVP and R/T is the Blacktop package, which features 17-inch aluminum wheels, a black grille, foglamps, leather interior accents, premium cloth seats and silver accent stitching.
The Driver Convenience Group also is optional for the SXT Plus and R/T; it adds Bluetooth audio connectivity, heated front- and second-row seats, automatic temperature control, a heated steering wheel and second- and third-row window shades. The Safety Sphere Group (R/T only) adds blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic detection and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. All Grand Caravans with the touchscreen infotainment system can be equipped with an integrated Garmin navigation system.
Powertrains and Performance
There's a single engine for all versions of the 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan: 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, a Grand Caravan accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 8 seconds, an average time for a minivan. Its EPA-estimated fuel economy is a combined 20 mpg (17 city/25 highway). The combined rating for competitors is a bit better, with the Honda Odyssey achieving a 22 mpg combined rating and the front-drive Toyota Sienna earning a 21 mpg combined rating.
Standard safety features for the 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan include stability control, antilock disc brakes, active front head restraints, a driver knee airbag, front seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Optional features in the Safety Sphere Group -- available only for the Grand Caravan R/T -- include a blind-spot monitoring system, rear parking and cross-traffic sensors and a rearview camera.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Grand Caravan came to a stop from 60 mph in 130 feet, a bit longer than average for a minivan. An R/T with its grippier tires and sport suspension did better, racking up a 119-foot stop.
In government crash testing, the Grand Caravan was given an overall score of four out of five stars, with four stars for frontal impacts and five stars for side impacts. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Dodge Grand Caravan was awarded the top rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact test as well as the side-impact, roof-strength and head restraint (whiplash protection) tests. In the IIHS' small-overlap front-impact test, the 2015 Grand Caravan was given the lowest possible rating of "Poor," however.
Interior Design and Special Features
You'll find good outward vision from an upright front-seat position, but some drivers, particularly taller ones, are likely to find the seat placement awkward, mostly because the pedals seem too close to the driver. Gauges are simple and usable. Cabin plastics and other materials, including the cloth seat upholstery, are satisfactory, but the Japanese vans' interiors manage to look and feel a little more upscale.
It's hard not to love Dodge's ultra-useful Stow 'n Go second-row seats that disappear into the floor with the flick of a lever. The Stow 'n Go seats are standard for every Grand Caravan except the base AVP model, where they're optional. Transforming from max people-carrying mode to max cargo-carrying mode couldn't be simpler, while the third-row seats fold backward into a deep cargo well, although they demand a few extra strap and lever pulls to make the transition. Luggage space behind the third row is a useful 33 cubic feet, while you can open up a maximum of 143.8 cubic feet, a space similar to most other minivans, by dropping all the rear seats.
It's worth the money to make sure you buy a trim level or option package that includes the Uconnect 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment interface. It's not the big 8.4-inch screen found in other Dodges, but the system is pretty easy to use otherwise.
Take a test-drive in the 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan and you'll find the 3.6-liter V6 engine generates satisfying acceleration, while the minivan's handling is stable and confident. It's the Grand Caravan's overall refinement that runs behind the smoother Japanese competition. There is more ruckus from the DGC's V6, and its automatic transmission doesn't always shift as smoothly as we'd like. The van's ride quality can also get a little coarse at times. The rival minivans seem to have more thoroughly integrated all the moving parts, though in everyday use this nuance can be difficult to notice.
Edmunds Insurance Estimator
This is the estimated average annual insurance premium being charged in your state. The premium has been determined based on annual premium data for defined coverages (liability, comprehensive and collision) from a major insurer.
While this information is specific to vehicle make, model, model year and body type, your personal information is not taken into consideration and could greatly alter the actual premium quoted by an insurer. Factors that will affect your rate include your age, marital status, credit history, driving record, and the garaging address of your vehicle.
The Edmunds TCO®
monthly insurance payment for a 2015 Dodge Grand Caravan Minivan
in VA is:
$118.00 per month*
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† Edmunds.com received the highest numerical score in the proprietary J.D. Power 2014 Third-Party Automotive Website Evaluation Study℠. Results based on responses from 3,381 responses, measuring 14 companies and measures third-party automotive website usefulness among new and used vehicle shoppers. Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of owners surveyed from January 2014. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com.