1997 Dodge Grand Caravan Review

Pros & Cons

  • Huge interior, slick styling, optional rear driver's side door, easy-out seats
  • Not the most reliable vehicle on the road.
List Price Estimate
$826 - $1,437

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

If there is a perfect family vehicle in existence, it is the Dodge Grand 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 Grand Caravan SE because it is the most flexible trim level. You can go with the bare-bones 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, foglights 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 LE model and its 3.8-liter V6.

Step up to LE trim level, and you buy your ticket to a stronger engine, traction control, trip computer, snazzy trim and leather seating. At the top is the ES, which adds alloy wheels, foglights and a monochromatic paint scheme.

Grand 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. Chrysler 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. The driver-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 also comes standard on the LE.

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 Grand Caravan an undeniably carlike 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 3.0-liter, 150-horsepower V6 serves as the base engine, with a 180-horsepower, 3.8-liter V6 optional.

With its combination of innovative features and carlike ride and handling qualities, the Grand Caravan deserves consideration from anyone looking for a family hauler.

1997 Highlights

After a one year hiatus, all-wheel drive returns to the lineup, available on SE and LE models. Traction control is newly available, and an enhanced accident response system will automatically unlock the doors and illuminate the interior when an airbag deployment is detected. A Sport decor group is newly available on Grand Caravan SE.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Loved it and miss it alot!
This was my first car and I paid $200 for it in 2009. During the time I owned this vehicle the only things that I had to replace were the fuel pump and the water pump. It had just about 200k miles on it and I trusted it to take me anywhere. It never died on me and always started right up. Went to trade it in at a dealership and the guy told me he wouldnt do it because the tranny was gonna go out of it because they are known for it. He got mad when I laughed in his face. The tranny had never been replaced and never gave me any issues at all. Would love to own another one. I had a 1999 Plymouth grand voyager and that thing was very solid aswell. Took a bad beating from the previous owner.
Long time fan
This is my third Dodge Caravan and the best of them. I've been driving this 1997 for 80k+ miles and I keep it in good condition with regular maintenance. The steering rack is the only major part that needed replacing. With 4 kids and a lot of very local driving, this is perfect for mom. The car is spacious, comfortable and easy to drive. Mine is AWD, which brings additional comfort in traction during wet or snowy weather. Very happy with it.
Whats wrong with american cars?
This car has major reliability problems, I have replaced the battery, the altenator, the water pump, the device that raises and lowers the driverside window, a starter, and now I need to fix head and valve gaskets, a 600.00 repair. we bought the vehicle new and I haven't driven it for more then 6 months without having to do some sort of repair. A 7 year old vehicle with 65,000 miles on it shouldn't be costing me an average of 1,000 a year to maintain. American car companies better wake up or companies like honda, toyota, and new arrivals like kia, and hyundai are going to put them out of business.
Serpentine Belt is a real snake
I bought used vehicle at 100K miles. Now it is at 150K miles. Drove across Texas several times with family, it never let us down. Recently while driving in town in rain, the serpentine belt came off. A month earlier I had replace the rack. Still I feel uncomfortable of its steering. It is loosing power steering intermittently in slow driving. Trying get rid of it soon

Features & Specs

See all Used 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan features & specs


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

More about the 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan

Used 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan Overview

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

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

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Which used 1997 Dodge Grand 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 Grand 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 AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan.

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Find a used Dodge Grand Caravan for sale - 10 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $22,199.

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Should I lease or buy a 1997 Dodge Grand 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 Grand Caravan lease specials