Sticking around your local Dodge dealer for yet another year is the Grand Caravan, now 10 years old and a low-cost alternative to the all-new Chrysler Pacifica—and other minivans from Toyota, Honda, and Kia. The aged, blocky van’s former class-leading virtues are now in the distant past. Even its cargo space—a minivan staple—has been outdone by more modern rivals. Aside from unbeatable pricing, it still has redeeming qualities, such as brawny towing capacity and fold-into-the-floor second- and third-row seating. On the other hand, connected families will want more in-car technology, and those focused on safety will quickly lose interest in the Grand Caravan’s weak offering of active safety features. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
What’s New for 2017?
Few things change for the Grand Caravan for 2017. The biggest revision is a scaling back from six trim levels to four: SE, SE Plus, SXT, and GT. All trim levels now come with a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a backup camera, while SE Plus models get Dodge’s popular Blacktop appearance package (17-inch aluminum wheels, black exterior detailing, and an all-black interior) as standard fare.
Trims and Options We’d Choose
While other minivans focus on luxury—Chrysler’s Pacifica can crest the $49,000 mark when fully equipped—the Grand Caravan sells on value. A fully spec’d GT model will struggle to hit $40,000 with every conceivable accessory included. It’s the value van, and as such we’d take it a step further and select the midrange SE Plus trim. It adds plenty of features over the base SE, among them:
• Second-row captain’s chairs
• Bluetooth phone and streaming audio
• Aluminum wheels
Our selected Grand Caravan starts at $29,790, saving us $20,000 over a loaded Pacifica. That extra cash might be better allocated to college savings plans for the occupants of the second and third rows.