Used 1997 Dodge Caravan

1997 Dodge Caravan
List price range
1997 Dodge Caravan

Pros

  • Huge interior, slick styling, optional rear driver's side door, easy-out seats

Cons

  • Not the most reliable vehicle on the road.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

If there is a perfect family vehicle in existence, it is the Dodge Caravan. What's the data say? The average American has two kids and spends a little more than $20,000 on a new car or truck. The Dodge Caravan fits into this scenario better than Velveeta in a grilled cheese sandwich.

We like the Caravan SE, because it is the most flexible trim level and upgrades seating positions from five to seven. You can go with the bare-bones $20,000 edition, or add luxury items like remote keyless entry, CD player with premium sound, and a security alarm. A third way to spec an SE model is with a Sport Option Package, which includes a firmer suspension, alloy wheels, fog lights, and monochromatic trim. Oddly, the 3.8-liter V6 engine cannot be purchased on an SE model, which means the most sport your Sport can attain uses the 158 horsepower churned out by the 3.3-liter V6 that comes with the package. Still, a Caravan Sport is the raciest minivan you can buy, short of popping an extra four grand for the ES model and its 3.8-liter V6.

Step up to LE and ES trim levels, and you buy your ticket to a stronger engine, traction control, trip computer, snazzy trim, and leather seating. Just for fun, let's see what a loaded ES runs...Whoa! $30,000 for a packed Caravan ES! Not much value here, folks. Stick with the SE.

Caravan offers several thoughtful details, but the most important are the easy-out rolling seats and the innovative driver-side sliding door--a feature that makes so much sense, it's amazing that no one tried this before. Easy-out seats are a snap to release and remove, though lifting the seat from the rear of the van may still require two sets of biceps. Optional on base and SE, and standard on LE and ES, the driver's side sliding door offers the convenience of loading kids and cargo from either side of the Caravan. Also intriguing is the windshield-wiper de-icer, which comes standard on the LE and ES.

Cupholders not only are numerous, they "ratchet down" to a smaller size. Except for an overabundance of climate controls, and an oddly-shaped column gearshift, the attractively curved dashboard is a pleasure to consult. Seats are soft but reasonably supportive, with moderate side bolstering.

Light steering response gives the Caravan an undeniably car-like feel, with an exceptionally smooth ride. Highly maneuverable and easy to control, the minivan delivers just a hint that you could exceed its capabilities, as when rounding a sharp curve. A 150-horsepower 16-valve dual-cam four serves as the base engine, with a 3.0-, 3.3-, or 3.8-liter V6 optional. The Sport and ES Caravans feature specially tuned shocks and springs.

New for 1997 is the aforementioned traction control system for LE and ES models, and an enhanced accident response system that will automatically unlock the doors and illuminate the interior when an airbag deploys. Other new stuff includes fresh paint colors, new wheel covers for base models, enhanced interior quietness, and liftgate flood lamps. The basic cassette stereo sports refinement, and new software helps the transmission shift more smoothly.

Chrysler notes that the Caravan is 3.6 inches shorter than a Mercury Villager and nearly 15 inches shorter than a Ford Windstar, but offers more cargo space than either rival. The Caravan doesn't feel nearly so massive from the driver's seat, which is one of its many charms. Definitely investigate the Dodge Caravan if a smaller minivan meets your needs.

1997 Highlights

Traction control is a new option, so long as you get LE or ES trim, and an enhanced accident response system will automatically unlock the doors and illuminate the interior when an airbag deploys. Appearance and equipment refinements complete the modest changes to this best-in-class minivan.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 Dodge Caravan.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

Gotcha's all beat!
Unhappy and Broke,03/18/2008
I just may have you all beat on the repairs, lol.One thing a little different, when I turn on my wipers, sometimes they'll come on, and when they finally come on they won't shut off until you are totally aggravated by the wiper dragging across the dry windshield. I have replaced the tie rods, tie rod ends, sway bar, bearings, power steering pump, fuses,taken it in for 3 recalls, only to find I had to replace the tension pulley, the ac doesn't work, the only fan speed left for heat is high,the head lights won't stay on,the parking lights don't work anymore (rusted sockets). Needs rotors, brakes again, this year, had a strut plate put in for the rusted housing, other side needs now and struts, door stripping.
Dependable
Dan O.,03/29/2002
After 150 000 km (90 000 miles) this has been a great vehicle with minimal and only routine maintenance. I would recommend this vehicle to anyone for the money.
can't complain
whitewiz,09/25/2002
i bought this van about 160kkms and it is now 230kkms. Things broken; transmission, rad, a/c, computer. Really the transmission went because the tranny cooler in the rad got a pinhole and sent prestone into the transmission. Not a good design on Chryslers part. I would recomend an external cooler and bypass the rad cooler to anyone who owns one of these. i got my cooler off a junked ford tempo, $10. There is a known problem in the computer on this year it makes the check engine light come on and an the van idles rough. The windshield wipers come on by themselves once in a while, this is a known problem with the wiper switch.
1997 Dodge Caravan Sports
Song,11/19/2008
I purchased my 1997 Dodge Caravan Sport new for $22K in 10/1996. 12 years later, the van has 135,000 miles on it. I heard tons of complaints from consumers about this van but I personally never experienced any problems with the van at all! Is it a coincidence or merely lucky? At 135K miles, the original transmission still shifts smoothly, no electrical problems of any knid at all! All I did was to replace brake pads every 30K miles,change engine oil every 7K miles all by myself. I did change front rotors at about 100K miles. Engine never tuned up, transimission fluid never changed either, AC still works like new and blows ice cold air. Changed 3 sets of tires in 12 years, of course!
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Features & Specs

MPG
16 city / 23 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
Gas
150 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
18 city / 23 hwy
Seats 0
3-speed automatic
Gas
150 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
16 city / 22 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
Gas
158 hp @ 4850 rpm
MPG
16 city / 22 hwy
Seats 0
4-speed automatic
Gas
158 hp @ 4850 rpm
See all Used 1997 Dodge Caravan features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Marginal

More about the 1997 Dodge Caravan
Used 1997 Dodge Caravan Overview

The Used 1997 Dodge Caravan is offered in the following submodels: Caravan Minivan. Available styles include ES 4dr Minivan, 3dr Minivan, SE 3dr Minivan, and LE 4dr Minivan.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Dodge Caravan?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1997 Dodge Caravans are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1997 Dodge Caravan for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the Carfax and Autocheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1997 Dodge Caravan.

Can't find a used 1997 Dodge Caravans you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Dodge Caravan for sale - 11 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $20,361.

Find a used Dodge for sale - 6 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $15,933.

Find a used certified pre-owned Dodge Caravan for sale - 5 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $21,098.

Find a used certified pre-owned Dodge for sale - 6 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $24,811.

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Should I lease or buy a 1997 Dodge Caravan?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Dodge lease specials
Check out Dodge Caravan lease specials