You've finally decided to purchase a minivan, and Dodge Grand Caravan caught your eye, but you don't know which is the best year Dodge Grand Caravan to buy?
That's a pretty good question, considering that the Grand Caravan came to the market in 1987 and was discontinued after the 2020 model came out. That are plenty of different models, so finding the best one isn't as easy, especially if you're not a car enthusiast or a grease monkey (slang for a mechanic). Luckily, there's a golden rule when it comes to discontinued vehicles: always choose the more recent models.
The Best Year Dodge Caravan is the 2020 model since it clearly stands out as the top performer in the latest generation of Grand Caravans. It made all the revisions its predecessors received standard and hasn't had any recalls so far, making it the best year Dodge Grand Caravan.
With that said, there are several things you need to know about this vehicle, as it has a few shortcomings of its own, but some clear advantages. We'll cover every segment methodically, from the car owner's perspective, and touch upon things that worry drivers the most — fuel economy and maintenance costs.
The best judges of a vehicle are the drivers, so we spent hours reading through countless owner reviews to be able to provide you with the accurate information necessary to make a well-informed decision. Of course, we haven't neglected the car experts and car website reviews, as well as official NHTSA and IIHS safety reports for crash testing. Here's what we learned about the best year Dodge Grand Caravan:
The Best Year Dodge Grand Caravan
Model 2020 of the Dodge Grand Caravan is the best year to buy, and for several reasons. Reason number one is that the Grand Caravan has been in production since 1987, which means that Dodge's engineers had nearly four decades (33 years) to perfect the vehicle for as much as possible.
Reason number two why 2020 is the best year Dodge Caravan is that there haven't been any recalls in the 2020 model, which can't be said about its predecessors — the 2019 model vas a reliable and trustworthy vehicle, but it had its issues. So, what makes the 2020 Dodge Grand Caravan the best Dodge Caravan so far? Let's take it from the beginning.
2020 Dodge Grand Caravan belongs to the fifth generation of Dodge Caravan, which discontinued the short-wheelbase Caravan, and only featured the long-wheelbase Grand Caravan. The discontinuation of the SWB Caravan allowed Dodge to implement some novelties into the Grand Caravan's design and make the vehicle consistent with the demands of the majority of the contemporary minivan market.
The 2020 model year had three different models of Dodge Grand Caravan available for the US market: SE, SE Plus, and SXT.
Dodge Grand Caravan SE
The SE trim level included the cloth upholstery, 16-inch wheels with hubcaps, an overhead console with an observation mirror, and a sunglass bin, which wasn't available if the model came equipped with a sunroof. Functional features included power locks, power windows with automatic controls on the driver's side, sliding door alert, manual sliding doors, manual mirrors, air conditioning, and a floor console.
Entertainment and multimedia were scarce and only included the AM/FM stereo with a CD player, MP3 capabilities, four speakers, and an auxiliary jack. Considering that it had no Bluetooth, you could still stream music from your phone via a cable that connects to your phone's 3.5mm audio — if your phone has one.
Dodge Grand Caravan SE Plus
The SE Plus was built upon SE features and has added standard second-row Super Stow' n Go bucket seats, an all-black interior design with dark red stitching accents, and a power eight-way driver seat.
Dodge Grand Caravan SXT
The STX makes most features standard, with power sliding doors, power heated mirrors, rear power vents, an additional rear overhead console, a universal garage door opener, LED lighting, leather upholstery, steering wheel equipped with audio controls. When it comes to additional equipment, multimedia was the same as with previous trims, with added 20GB HDD, six speakers, and a backup camera.
However, this model also offered a rear-seat entertainment system with optional Bluetooth, though its 9-inch screens can't really compare to entertainment systems in contemporary vehicles. Especially when kids nowadays have tablets and other gadgets with streaming capabilities.
Style and Aesthetics
The 2020 Dodge Grand Caravan looks its age, and while many believe it hasn't changed since the fifth generation's introduction in 2008, the vehicle suffered a small redesign in 2011 and has retained the same look ever since.
Unfortunately, this means it sports the same boxy appearance minivans were famous for before 2016. So, while it's a nice-looking vehicle, it does look a bit dated compared to Chrysler Pacifica or Kia Sedona. Both have been introduced and redesigned since the fifth-generation Grand Caravan was introduced to the market, making the 2020 Grand Caravan's halogen headlights and boxy styling look its age.
The interior is quite durable but also dated in design, and its details, while dependent on the trim, detract from the straightforward and functional design of contemporary rivals.
The 2011 redesign touched upon more than just aesthetics; the suspension was heavily re-tuned, with larger sway bars, adjusted spring rates, and new steering gear. In addition, the static front camber setting was revised, and the vehicle height was slightly lowered, which significantly improved handling. However, while those changes were pretty impressive and welcomed back in the day, they couldn't keep modern vehicles from overtaking the 2020 model when it comes to handling.
A 3.6-liter V-6 engine with front-wheel drive and 6-speed automated transmission is standard on all Grand Caravan variants. This reliable powertrain produces 283 horsepower, which is more than enough to confidently cruise at highway speeds, with the transmission shifting quickly and quietly. So, the engine is quite adequate for driving a nearly two-metric-ton vehicle without any issues.
But the suspension and steering still don't handle the power as well as some other FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) vehicles on the current market. The ride is comfortable and smooth, but the vehicle leans through turns and over bumps. The steering is direct, but the feedback can be overwhelming, as it lacks the proper weight to it. FCA's Pacifica, which is built on the same platform, remedied these issues, which subsequently left Grand Caravan behind in this department.
Comfort and Quality
The 2020 Dodge Grand Caravan is everything you can expect from a minivan drawing roots from the previous century — it's great for hauling a lot of stuff and people, but comfort and luxury are taking the backseat. Not to say that the vehicle isn't comfortable, but it does lack some luxury features, and if we had to put a number on it, it would be 6 out of 10.
Thanks to the foldable second and third row of seats, Grand Caravan can function as a family minivan or as a smaller cargo van. With all seats in the upright position, you get some 31 cubic feet of trunk space. This number grows to 79 cubic feet when the third row is folded and up to fantastic 140 cubic feet of storage when you fold both the second and the third row of seats.
This amount of storage space is what makes the minivans so versatile, and it's one of Grand Caravan's strongest appeals and selling points. The total number of seven seats provides more than a decent amount of space for the passengers, but the interior build quality seems inexpensive in appearance, even in higher-end models. Unfortunately, the lack of luxury and dated style put Grand Caravan behind other contemporary models, which is reflected in its more accessible price point.
For an affordable minivan, 2020 offers basic safety features. Considering the platform it was built upon, its crash test scores and safety equipment reasonably hail from a different era. The model has a four-star overall NHTSA rating, with four stars in Frontal Impacts and Rollovers and five stars in Side Impacts for both the driver and the rear passengers.
The IIHS rating gave Grand Caravan a "Good" rate for moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side impacts, and roof strength, but a "Poor" rating for small overlap frontal offset. The latter sounds concerning, and it should, but it should also be pointed out that most minivans struggle with small overlap frontal offsets, and most barely pass into the "Acceptable" rating due to the constructions and the size of the vehicle.
Just the same, due to the age of its platform, the Grand Caravan eschews any active or passive modern safety technology. The model offers only a rearview camera, which is now federally mandated anyway.
2020 Dodge Grand Caravan gets approx. 17 mpg (miles-per-gallon) in the city, 25 on the highway, and 20 mpg in the combined driving. Admittedly, newer minivans manage closer to 30 mpg on the highway, thanks to the newer engine control units. Admittedly, this type of performance is expected from a vehicle model that's watching the sunset of its lifecycle.
How to Get the Most Value from the 2020 Dodge Grand Caravan
As with any vehicle, the length of time you can expect your 2020 Grand Caravan to last mainly depends on two factors:
- Driving Style
All vehicles have an expected lifespan or expected mileage. 2020 Dodge Grand Caravan is a robust minivan and mostly averages out between 200,000 and 250,000 miles. This means that your Grand Caravan will last you anywhere between 13 and 17 years, based on 15,000 miles driven per year, before breaking down or requiring extensive repairs.
However, this greatly depends on the way you drive your Grand Caravan and how you take care of it, which is why it's imperative to maintain good driving habits, and follow the maintenance schedule as recommended by the manufacturer.
Maintain Good Driving Habits
Avoid stop-and-go traffic whenever possible and as much as you can. Frequent abrupt braking puts undue strain on the drivetrain and the tires of your Grand Caravan, which will wear out faster during city driving than on the highway. However, stop-and-go traffic is unavoidable at times, and if you're mainly driving in the city, it's paramount to have your brakes and tires serviced on a regular basis.
You should also be cautious about how you handle the vehicle when driving and avoiding jerking the steering wheel is important if you want to avoid frequent visits to the mechanic. The same can be said for brakes and acceleration — don't slam on them unless you're trying to avoid an accident. Otherwise, operate the vehicle as smoothly as possible, and avoid driving in extreme downpours and really lousy weather.
Follow Recommended Maintenance Schedule
You should take your vehicle to the authorized car maintenance service regularly if you want it to last. Check out the maintenance recommendations for Grand Caravan in the owner's manual. Please keep in mind that failing to take your vehicle to its recommended checkup can void any warranties that come with the vehicle. Here's a list of Dodge Grand Caravan maintenance recommendations:
- Examine the air filter every 12,000 miles, and inspect the brake linings.
- Service your air condition at 12,000 miles.
- Replace the oil and the filter every six months.
- Check for tires for wear, and rotate the tires every six months.
- Replace the spark plugs every 102,000 miles.
- Replace the transmission fluid and filter every 60,000 miles
- Inspect the joints on your CV and exhaust system every two years.
- Inspect the front suspension every two years.
Any issues and faults should be addressed as soon as possible to ensure that your Grand Caravan is performing to its full potential and that the safety of you and your passengers is secured. As for the costs, you can expect to spend anywhere between $3,800 to $5,700 in maintenance and possible repairs in the first five years.
While the 2020 model is the best year Dodge Grand Caravan, there are also some notable models that performed quite well and some that were truly terrible. Here are some honorable mentions:
2010 Dodge Grand Caravan
Because of its many features, the 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan is one of the best choices for families due to its price point and utility. It had a small recall, as some vehicles experienced inadvertent ignition key displacements, but other than that, the model had no other issues.
2019 Dodge Grand Caravan
When it comes to the 2019 Dodge Grand Caravan, the GT trim level is highly suggested because of its price point and its features. This seven-seater provides plenty of legroom space for passengers and a number of safety features, as well as an easy-to-use infotainment system and a remote start.
The model had two recalls, one for lack of coating on rear brake caliper pistons on some vehicles and possibly poor welds on seat strikers on some (not all) vehicles of that year model.
The Bad Batch
You should stay away from models 2005, 2008, 2012, and 2013, as they have the highest number of complaints. The 2005 model alone had over 200 complaints associated with numerous segments of the vehicle. Later models mentioned above mostly had issues with electrical components, transmission, and engine, with models 2012 and 2013 having issues with lower mileage.
While these models are best avoided, the 2020 model of Dodge Grand Caravan is the best year to buy since there haven't been any recalls associated with that particular model.
About THE AUTHOR
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding