Used 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan Review

Pleasant to drive and ride in but lacking a few key features and the rock-solid reliability record of certain rivals.




what's new

Dodge brings out the Caravan eL, a value leader that lists for around $24,000. The luxury factor on higher-line trims is boosted with the availability of power adjustable pedals, rear-seat audio with wireless headsets and the coupe de grace: a DVD video system for the rear seat, which also includes wireless headsets.

vehicle overview

Redesigned last year, the Dodge Grand Caravan sports a number of neat features, such as a moveable center bin equipped with power points and a power rear liftgate.

Still, a few key conveniences are missing, such as a hide-a-way third-row seat and adjustable fore/aft second-row seating and a reverse sensing system.

Make no mistake, the Grand Caravan has many charms, among them a comfortable interior, good looks, a power liftgate, plenty of power and crisp handling that belies the size of the vehicle. Depending on what trim level and options are selected, driver and passengers can be ensconced in soft, gathered-leather seats while triple zone climate control keeps everyone comfortably cool or warm. Making it easier for parents to entertain the kids is the option of a DVD video system that is integrated into the dash.

The Grand Caravan is available in several trim levels, ranging from the base SE to the top-of-the-line ES. In between those are situated the eL, Sport and the EX. Both Sport and ES can be had with all-wheel drive. Choosing the SE will get you the basics, such as a 3.3-liter 180-horsepower V6 hooked up to a smooth four-speed automatic, air conditioning, AM/FM/cassette stereo and antilock brakes. The Sport comes with power windows, locks and mirrors; triple-zone climate control; and cruise control. The eL, which comes only in Bright Silver Metallic, is equipped like the Sport and even adds a trip computer, yet costs nearly a grand less.

The EX was introduced late in 2001 and positioned squarely against Honda's Odyssey EX (what a coincidence!). To battle the Honda, the Grand Caravan EX is similarly priced and boasts standard equipment that includes a 3.8-liter V6 (which makes 215 horsepower), alloy wheels, triple-zone climate control, power driver seat, CD player and power liftgate door.

In a classic "shot myself in the foot" move, the more expensive ES inexplicably comes with a few downgrades compared to the EX, such as the 3.3-liter V6 versus the 3.8 (which is optional). The ES does, however, come with a superior sound system (a 10-speaker Infinity job) and a trip computer. A different marketing scheme for the EX (comes one way -- no options -- and there are currently no rebates or incentives) is the reason for the strange hierarchy.

In the Grand Caravan lineup, the EX is perhaps the best choice, as it has most of the features one could want in a minivan (save for a disappearing third seat and the option of a navigation system). But in spite of the Dodge's superior driving dynamics, Honda's exemplary Odyssey offers more useable features than the Grand Caravan and has something else that Dodge won't be able to simply bolt in: a long-standing reputation for exemplary reliability and build quality.

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.