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The first Dodge Caravan passenger minivan was manufactured back in 1984. It immediately won popularity as it gave rise to a brand-new class of capacious family vehicles. Apart from being enormously practical, the Dodge Caravan was characterised by excellent technical specifications and remarkable driving performance. It also was rather fuel-efficient and non-problematic and affordable to maintain. The Dodge Caravan was sold under different marques at the time such as the Chrysler Town & Country, Chrysler Voyager, Plymouth Voyager, etc.
As of 2015, the Dodge Caravan is in its fifth generation. The vehicle, which comes with short and long wheelbases (the latter is called the Grand Caravan), is assembled in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. In keeping with tradition, it still outshines its competitors among which are the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, and Nissan Quest in terms of a cabin’s practicality, comfort, and spaciousness. However, the area where its age shows up is safety. The latest Caravan models didn’t perform in crash tests as good as some of its rivals.
Not so long ago, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles made an official statement on the subject of the Dodge Caravan’s forthcoming discontinuation. The statement said that the minivan’s production is planned to cease after the 2016 and 2017 models are introduced. The automaker aims to concentrate more on the Chrysler Town & Country luxury passenger minivan.
The Dodge Grand Caravan has been one of the most favourite family minivans for several generations. With the 2016 model, the iconic vehicle celebrates its 32nd birthday.
What matters to the Dodge Grand Caravan the most is its storage ability and cabin’s practicality. The manufacturer didn’t want to go through the hassle with its shape and made it boxy so that it could accommodate up to eight passengers and carry them in comfort. It features rather sharp lines unlike some of its rivals (the Sienna, Quest, etc.). Such exterior design, which looks simple but very neat and clean, proved to be successful. It attracts customers’ attention for about a decade already.
Among the Dodge Grand Caravan’s main exterior features are a well-known cross-hair grille at the front (the brand’s calling card) and LED taillights that add some sportiness to the minivan’s look.
Interior of the 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan hasn’t much changed since its 2011 model was introduced. It’s really needless – it still looks nice and modern and is very practical. Moreover, it gives an airy feel.
The minivan got rid of excessive plastic use several years ago to make its cabin be more pleasing to the eye and look more luxurious. However, some is left where it’s necessary; where a more expensive trim cannot cope.
The Blacktop package that was introduced together with the 2014 model is preserved for the 2016 one. Ordering it, you get seat fabric and headliner all in black as well as black headlamp housing and grille; silver elements are present on the steering wheel (which is wrapped in leather by the way) and door panels while 17-inch wheels are painted in silver.
Practicality and Comfort
The 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan outruns all the vehicles in the segment in terms of its cabin’s usefulness. The passenger minivan exploits the Stow ‘n Go seating and storing system that allows for folding rear seats into the floor to make additional room for storing cargo. A 33 cu ft boot turns into a 143.8 cu ft one when the Grand Caravan isn’t a 7/8-passenger minivan but a 2-passenger one (when all the seats, except for two at the front, are folded down).
The Stow ‘n Go is available on any Grand Caravan model. When the second-row seats are in place, there’s a storage compartment under them. The minivan also offers the Stow ‘n Place system as an option. It represents a roof rack system which crossbars can be stowed in the rails when they aren’t needed. It reduces wind noise during the ride, improves aerodynamics and consequently fuel efficiency, and makes the process of cleaning the roof (from snow for example) easier.
Up to eight passengers can travel in the 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan at the same time. The seats in the first and second rows provide lots of head, leg, knee, and elbow space.
The seats at the front are rather comfortable but it’d be better if they provided stiffer support. Do you remember we’ve discussed that the second- and third-row seats can be folded into the floor for enlarging cargo capacity? For this reason, they are thinner than those at the front. Also, they are rather firm. A long-distance journey in them can be troublesome. The third row is chiefly for children (or anyone who isn’t of big proportions).
Powertrain and Fuel Efficiency
The 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan can be powered only by a 3.6-litre petrol Pentastar V6 engine that generates 283 hp and 260 lb/ft of torque and is coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission. Note that current models are just front-wheel drive.
As for its fuel efficiency rate, the Dodge Grand Caravan is an average minivan. In fact, it’s less fuel-saving than some competitors. The EPA estimated it at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg hwy (20 mpg combined). For example, the Odyssey returns 28 mpg hwy. The Eco mode can save you some fuel, though.
Although the Dodge Caravan is in a respectable age, it keeps up with the technological progress and equips with a wide range of state-of-the-art equipment (wider than some other manufacturers offer).
The 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan comes in four trims: AVP, SE, SXT, and R/T.
Standard features the AVP level provides count electric windows, locks, and mirrors; keyless entry; air conditioner; cruise control; etc. Options aren’t numerous: Uconnect systems that contain Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, voice control, etc. as well as leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
While the SE trim implies availability of a floor storage bin at the front, 6-speaker sound system, tri-zone climate control, and Blu-Ray DVD entertainment system, upgraded SXT adds auto headlamps, sliding side doors, power tailgate, leatherette cabin, etc. The range-topping R/T level offers a unique sound system and suspension, black leather seats, etc.
Among stand-alone optional features are an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, sat nav, advanced radio, Bluetooth, DVD entertainment system for second-row passengers, 3G USB dongle, heated steering wheel and seats, etc.
Although the Dodge Grand Caravan is pretty well equipped and updates its fitment regularly, the minivan performed poorly in some crash tests. Probably, it’s the Caravan’s aging underpinnings are to blame.
The NHTSA rated the 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan at four stars both for front-impact protection and rollover resistance (together with an overall rating). The results are good, but its rivals, the Sedona, Sienna, and Odyssey in particular, managed to earn higher scores.
The IIHS estimated the model the same (it acquired ‘Good’ grades for front-impact and rollover protection) except for a ‘Poor’ grade for a small overlap test.
Standard safety features installed on the Dodge Grand Caravan include dual front airbags, curtain airbags, stability and trailer sway control system, and ABS. You can additionally order auto headlamps, blind spot monitoring system, rear-view camera, rear cross-path detection, and parking sensors.
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