Since now, I was always buying base models without any blows and whistles. Steering wheel and 4 wheels were the only "options" I wanted. But this time, I got the Crew model (due to $4000 on lease+$750 incentives) plus $500 for existing Dodge owner (not sure about this). Anyway, $5250 discount and employee pricing (my friend works for Chrysler) made me look Dodge way. Because of the new engine/transmission and mostly because of the known reliability of Chrysler vehicles, I did not dare to buy this car so I choosed to lease it instead. I choosed Driver and Passenger package and since it was very hard to find a vehicle with both options and not to be fully loaded I ended up buying the car ...
Replaced all four brake pads and rotors after 50k miles. Front had more then 6mm left while rear were closer to 3mm in thickness. Replaced with PowerStop rotors and ceramic pads. Had to replace front pads after only 15k miles. Rear ones were still like new. At 73k check engine went on and front (left) cylinder head was replaced under warranty. Also, upstream left O2 sensor was replaced. Still going strong. Very satisfied.
No problems until 11430 miles. Check engine light came on with P0128 indicating stuck thermostat. Took it to the dealership and they told me that it was not the thermostat but computer which did not know how to act on some data. They did the update on computer and immediately I noticed that transmission shifted from first to second gear with a "thud" sound while Econ button was on. When Econ button was off transmission was shifting from 1st to 2nd gear smooth but from 2nd to 3rd with hesitation (shudder). I thought it is because when they flashed computer everything was lost so computer had to learn all parameters again. Well, after 3500 miles nothing changed and I took it to dealership.
Six years and 104k miles, and in most respects this GC remains a great family/vacation/car-pool/kids-activities/daily-driver van. Pros still are: strong and so-far robust drivetrain; nice road manners, good road feedback - I honestly still enjoy driving the van; flexible seating/cargo options (Stow and Go is very nice when we infrequently use it); and reliability in the main has been great. Neutral points include: city gas mileage (15-18 mpg, even with Econ mode engaged), but that's probably what we should expect, and highway mileage is a much better 22-25 mpg; brakes are now longer and more evenly wearing than was the case on the first sets of pads and rotors, which may just be me; and tires have worn well (just replaced 2nd set at 45k miles because of road debris damage, otherwise would've again gone well over 50k). Negatives are: I think we're on our 4th clockspring wiring harness, but still have intermittent cruise-control failure to turn on - it'll work for months without problems, then stop working for days or weeks, then work again; the vinyl upholstery on the front seat and front-door armrests that looked cheap when the car was new, was - we've got unsightly splits and cracks on these now; and we occasionally have a gascap seal/engine-check error. All of these are minor issues. All of them are known issues with Dodges of this vintage. The cruise-control failure is the most annoying, and we're still looking for a fix. (I see reports this may be a correctible software issue, and not the cruise-control switches or wiring after all - we'll look into that.) The armrest vinyl cracking has aftermarket solutions - though that shouldn't be necessary. The gas-cap error is a nuisance, but after going to our mechanic a couple of times for diagnosis and resetting, it prompted me to get an OBD scanner (BlueDriver and the Haynes onboard diagnostics manual are both highly recommended), which we leave permanently plugged in, and reset the error lights ourselves. Looking back, getting this Grand Caravan still looks like the right thing to have done. We're now thinking beyond 150k miles and hoping to get to 200k miles, which should get the youngest kid through high school.
Our 1997 GC was used and only had an O2 sensor go out. We took it past 150k miles and it still had spunk but couldn't trust it to longer trips. After renting a 2011 GC three times I had developed an attachment. Still looked for other options but after talking to a rep at a great dodge dealer we went to look at a 2011 GC Crew fairly loaded and was blown away at the price, which was way lower than the msrp of $30k. The 300 mile ride home was sweet. Good milage, smooth, quiet and handled excellent. Shifting, acceleration and braking were not too slow or jerky. The transmission didn't clunk or give reason to fear. I just love it and need to plan a trip just to satisfy my need to drive it.