2018 Dodge Grand Caravan

2018 Dodge Grand Caravan Review

The Grand Caravan is great for a family on a budget, but we advise buying a rival if you're able to.
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

If prices for the latest and greatest crop of minivans seem a little rich for your tastes, you're in luck. The 2018 Dodge Grand Caravan isn't the newest kid on the block, but its tempting offer of safe family transportation at an affordable price might be enough to sway you over its more expensive rivals.

Like other minivans, the Grand Caravan enjoys superior third-row accommodations and cargo capacity compared to most three-row SUVs. One of the Grand Caravan's defining features is its available Stow 'n Go seating arrangement. As opposed to other minivans that require removing the second-row seats to maximize cargo space, the Grand Caravan's second-row captain's chairs fold neatly into storage bins below the floorboards. With the third-row bench also stowed, this creates a nearly flat load surface for carrying large items. Along with its flexible seating and cargo situation, the Grand Caravan's value-oriented pricing structure will undoubtedly win plenty of fans.

You will be paying a price, however, when you pick the Grand Caravan over newer models. The Grand Caravan was last fully redesigned in 2008, and it feels positively ancient from behind the wheel. Low-quality plastics run rampant throughout the cabin, the touchscreen system is tremendously outdated, and its powertrain and suspension tuning aren't as refined as those on other minivans. Most importantly, the signature Stow 'n Go seating uses fixed latch points on the floor, so the second row doesn't slide for passenger comfort.

If a low price is the guiding factor in your minivan-purchasing decision, you'll probably find the 2018 Dodge Grand Caravan to be a satisfying choice. But if you have slightly deeper pockets, the other vehicles in this segment are worth considering instead.



What's new for 2018

The Dodge Grand Caravan is unchanged for 2018.

We recommend

Make no bones about it, the allure of the 2018 Dodge Grand Caravan lies solely in its affordable pricing. That said, we'd skip past the rather basic SE and select the midlevel SE Plus. That way you get the benefit of the Grand Caravan's other competitive advantage (the second-row Stow 'n Go seats), alongside modern necessities such as Bluetooth and automatic headlights. The leather-wrapped steering wheel and upgraded cloth also help downplay the Grand Caravan's otherwise cheap-feeling interior.




Trim levels & features

The budget-friendly, seven-passenger Dodge Grand Caravan is sold in four trim levels: SE, SE Plus, SXT and GT. All Grand Caravans have a 3.6-liter V6 (283 horsepower, 260 pound-feet of torque) paired to a six-speed automatic transmission.

The SE's standard features list includes 17-inch steel wheels, heated mirrors, remote locking and unlocking, tri-zone climate control (with rear air-conditioning), cruise control, rearview camera, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, a conversation mirror, a second-row bench seat and full power accessories. Entertainment comes in the form of a six-speaker audio system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack, controlled via a 6.5-inch touchscreen display.

The SE can be ordered with the Uconnect Hands-Free Group package, which adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, satellite radio, a USB port, and Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity. Second-row captain's chairs are an optional upgrade and offer the Stow 'n Go fold-into-the-floor feature.

The SE Plus comes with the above equipment as standard (including the captain's chairs), plus 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, black exterior styling elements, remote engine start, a front floor console and upgraded upholstery and trim.

The Grand Caravan SXT added features such as chrome exterior trim, roof rails, power-sliding rear doors, a power liftgate, a larger floor console, leather upholstery with suede inserts, and an eight-way power driver seat (with two-way power lumbar adjustment).

The SXT offers two notable options packages. The Blacktop package retains the SE's black exterior trim and deletes the roof rack, while the considerably more feature-rich Driver Convenience Group package adds a rear overhead console, an overhead storage bin, automatic climate control, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, ambient lighting, and second- and third-row sunshades.

The range-topping Grand Caravan is the GT. It takes the standard content from the SXT with the Driver Convenience Group (minus the chrome and roof rails) and adds a body-colored grille, a performance-tuned suspension, different wheels, black interior accents, a driver information center, a 115-volt household-style outlet, full leather seating, an eight-way power passenger seat, heated second-row seats, navigation, voice controls and an upgraded nine-speaker audio system.

Different trims also get access to special options packages. All models can be ordered with a rear-seat entertainment system, which bundles the GT's touchscreen with a 9-inch overhead display screen, an HDMI input, satellite radio, two USB charging ports and a 115-volt power outlet.

The GT-only Safety Sphere group adds rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The Trailer Tow Group, which adds a hitch, wiring harness and load-leveling feature, is also GT-only.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT (3.6L V6 | 6-speed automatic | FWD).

Driving

The Grand Caravan is adequate from a performance perspective, which is all you really need from a minivan. Though it does little truly wrong from behind the wheel, it lacks refinement in both its powertrain and suspension tuning relative to its competition.

Acceleration

The Grand Caravan hits 60 in 8.0 seconds, which is slower than other top minivans. The Grand Caravan offers manual gear selection, but the shifter's location next to the instrument panel makes it a little awkward to use.

Braking

The Grand Caravan's stopping distance from 60 mph to zero is also average for the segment, but the significant amount of nosedive and increasingly mushy brake pedal are not. Thankfully, this problem doesn't arise in normal driving.

Steering

There's enough information available through the steering wheel to prudently guide this van. Steering weight and feedback, though not substantial, are appropriate for the segment.

Handling

Instrumented testing shows the Grand Caravan's road-holding abilities are on par with its competition. During normal use, the van is easy to handle but not nimble.

Drivability

We observed gear hunting from the six-speed automatic transmission in certain situations. The Grand Caravan's throttle calibration is a little jumpy, too. Overall, though, these are nitpicks to which most drivers will adjust or drive around.

Comfort

This is a minivan with enough luxuries and features to handle all-day drives. The ride comfort is acceptable, and its interior is loaded with comfort-enhancing amenities.

Seat comfort

Seat comfort, especially in the first two rows, is very good. The third row's seat bottom is tilted at a high angle that might bother some occupants.

Ride comfort

The Grand Caravan sticks to the road fairly well. As in most minivans, comfort is a priority. You will be comfortable on long drives in the first or second row easily.

Noise & vibration

Levels of road and wind noise are at or better than segment standards. This Grand Caravan didn't exhibit any rattles. But its complex second-row seats make us wonder if they'll be rattle-free in five years.

Interior

The Grand Caravan's interior flexibility is its biggest strength. Once you step into the cabin, you'll find there's more than enough passenger room throughout.

Ease of use

The primary controls, with the exception of the bizarre dash-mounted shifter, are all easy to use and reach. The secondary controls, including the climate control knobs, fall readily at hand.

Getting in/getting out

The first and second rows offer average ease of entry. Third-row access is very good thanks to second-row seats that fold, tumble and slide inward.

Roominess

The Grand Caravan uses its space very well. From front-seat headroom to third-row legroom, there's ample space everywhere.

Visibility

Overall visibility is good, but rear-quarter visibility is marginally inhibited by the third-row headrests, though they can be flipped down.

Quality

There's less attention to quality details in the Grand Caravan than in its Japanese and Korean competition. Though some materials are high-quality, they're matched with large swaths of plastic trim. We question the durability of the complex second-row seats.

Utility

The Stow 'n Go second-row seats are segment-leading in terms of functionality. Manual operation of the third row is a little busy but works well. And there's massive storage in the second-row floor if you don't need to stow the seats.

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.