Minivans have been on their way out since SUVs became favorite family haulers. And that spells the demise of yet another model. The Dodge Grand Caravan had been around for decades, but its maker finally killed it last year with the 2020 model. They’re still available to purchase new, but would you even want one? According to Car and Driver, it’s the worst minivan of 2021.
But is this minivan really that bad? Is there anything redeeming about it?
What’s wrong with the Grand Caravan?
Car and Driver listed the seven remaining minivans still available for the 2021 model year. Two of these, however, will be gone when the 2022 versions roll out. The Grand Caravan stopped production in May 2020, and the Kia Sedona will make way for the highly anticipated Carnival.
Of the seven listed, the Grand Caravan comes in dead last. This minivan didn’t see many improvements in its final production years. The powertrain is pretty outdated, with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, Car and Driver reports.
Dodge also doesn’t have a great reputation for reliable minivans. The Grand Caravan has had too many issues with its transmission, engine, and Totally Integrated Power Module (its electrical system gateway). Each represents a relatively expensive fix, and Dodge hasn’t covered all of them.
The Grand Caravan also doesn’t offer much in the way of driver aids or tech features. You won’t find adaptive cruise control, rear collision avoidance, or blind-spot monitoring. Forget about Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, too. That’s too bad. Most other minivans offer at least some of these as standard features.
What does this minivan get right?
The Grand Caravan doesn’t have many great things to praise. But there are a few things it gets right that deserve mention. Cargo space in the rear is 31 cubic feet, but Dodge offers Stow n’ Go seats that you can fold down and put away into a floor storage area. This will free up more space if you need it.
This minivan starts at $27,530, according to Dodge. It can tow up to 1,500 pounds if you equip it with aftermarket accessories. And its comfortable seating accommodates seven passengers. Plus, acceleration isn’t bad for the price you pay: In the 0-to-60-mph run, this Dodge clocks in at 8 seconds.
Though it’s not the best in fuel economy, it offers average EPA ratings for a minivan. Expect to get around 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Sure, other minivans perform much better, but for the Grand Caravan’s low price, what you get isn’t anything to sneeze at.
Better alternatives to the Grand Caravan
The Grand Caravan may not be for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a minivan that will take care of your family while you’re traveling.
The first option is the Chrysler Pacifica. This minivan offers the same Stow n’ Go seating you’ll find in the Grand Caravan, so you won’t have to worry about missing that handy feature. The Pacifica also packs a 287-hp V6 engine paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission.
As for fuel economy, you can get around 28 mpg on the highway if you choose the gas-only version. However, if you opt for the plug-in hybrid model, the numbers increase to 82 MPGe. The best part is that you can get all-wheel drive. Most other minivans don’t offer this drivetrain. But probably the biggest drawback to the Pacifica is its $36,690 starting price.
Another good alternative to the Grand Caravan is the Honda Odyssey. It boasts great handling and a comfortable ride with a high-quality suspension system. Fuel economy is pretty good, too. It’s EPA rated for 28 mpg on the highway, but the folks at Car and Driver got 30 mpg during their testing.
Sure, the Grand Caravan is on its way out, but you’ll still see used models chugging around or even get stuck with one the next time you pick up a rental car. Though it’s not the greatest minivan, it offers just enough features to keep the cost down and more money in your wallet.