Used 1999 Dodge Caravan Review




what's new

A revised front fascia is common to all models.

vehicle overview

If there is a perfect family vehicle in existence, it is one of Chrysler's minivans. 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/Grand Caravan fits into this scenario better than Velveeta in a grilled cheese sandwich.

The Caravan rides on a 113.3-inch wheelbase, and the Grand Caravan adds six inches to that and 13 extra inches of overall length. That extra length is noticed in the Grand Caravan's rear seat legroom, which allows rear passengers to stretch out their legs an extra three and four inches (second row and third row, respectively). The vehicles are identical in width and height, but the longer-wheelbase Grand Caravan offers more cargo room at 147.7 cubic feet, compared to the Caravan's 126.7 cubic feet. The big Grand Caravan also offers standard seven-passenger seating, but the third row is optional on the Caravan.

The Caravan line offers several thoughtful details; the most important are the easy-out rolling seats and the innovative driver-side sliding door--a first in the minivan class (that has since been copied by everyone else). 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 the base Caravan and standard on everything else, the driver's side sliding door offers the convenience of loading kids and cargo from either side of the Caravan.

A 150-horsepower 16-valve dual-cam four (coupled with a three-speed automatic) serves as the base engine of the Caravan, but these sizeable vans benefit from a little extra oomph. The 3.0-liter V6, borrowed from Mitsubishi Motors, is standard on the Grand Caravan, and offers the same horsepower as the 2.4-liter but with an extra nine foot-pounds of torque. A 3.3-liter V6, standard on SE and LE trim, is a step in the right direction, but our favorite motor is the 3.8-liter unit, which outputs 186 horsepower and 227 foot-pounds of torque. The 3.8-liter engine (standard on AWD versions of the Grand Caravan and the Grand Caravan ES model, optional on the Caravan and Grand Caravan LE), comes with a four-speed automatic transmission which provides shifts that are neat and smooth.

Light steering response gives these minivans 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. The Sport package features specially tuned shocks and springs.

The Dodge brand of Chrysler minivans offers affordable transportation in just about any conceivable configuration. Buyers can choose from two different sizes, five usable doors, four engine choices, three rows of seats, two distinct suspensions, all-wheel drive capability, and a partridge in a pear tree. So mix and match to your own specific needs.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.