2014 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT Blacktop Review
Dodge's family hauler still has what it takes.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: February 26th, 2014
There's nothing cool about a minivan, and the aptly named Grand Caravan is no exception to that rule. Even though "grand" may be a bit of an exaggeration, the "caravan" part is spot-on. In England, "caravan" is what they call trailers or campers, but everywhere else it means a large group of people traveling together, which is what this big-ass Dodge is made for.
Coming in at just over $30,000 fully tricked out, it's definitely on the affordable size for a family with enough kids to justify owning it. The Grand Caravan was refreshed inside and out in 2011, and it hasn't grown stale. It's sturdy and confident and has almost all the bells, whistles, and safety features you want from a minivan (you can't top Honda's built-in vac, though), which is what you ought to expect from the company that invented the segment.
On the Road
Like all minivans, the Grand Caravan aims for comfort, but ultimately is only able to do what can be done to make what is essentially a small bus drive like not so much of a small bus. The Grand Caravan achieves this more or less successfully. It's not the smoothest drive of any minivan, but we're talking about a matter of very small degrees, and the bottom line is, if you're looking for "fun to drive," you're not looking at a car that can potentially carry seven children.
It's a minivan, what do you think it's gonna look like? You think it will have fins? A shaker hood? It looks like every other minivan ever made. Move along, there's nothing to see here.
The interior. Now this is where the minivan shines. It's all about the interior. It's about strapping in as many people as you need to and getting them to shut the hell up for the longest period of time possible. And the Grand Caravan has plenty to achieve those goals.
The SXT Blacktop edition we drove was maxed out with two DVD/BluRay players and two screens, meaning the kids in back can play on their Xbox (there is both an HDMI cable and an A/V input in the back) while the kids in the middle can watch Teletubbies. That is a feature that is no small deal for people with multiple children.
One problem, which can't be entirely blamed on Dodge, is the Chrysler-standard UConnect, one of the less good infotainment systems. It's extra annoying in this car, because you can't use voice commands to control the navigation, which, come on, how could you not have that in a minivan so clearly meant to undertake long road-trips with children?
Other minor complaints include the aforementioned lack of built-in vac (because, come on, that is a genius addition to a minivan), and the somewhat clumsy nature of the stow-n-go seats. Dodge invented them, so you have to give them props for that, but they are pretty cumbersome to stow and unstow - you have to remove the floor mats and lift up a panel that's not all that easy to lift. It's the one aspect of the Grand Caravan that seems stuck in the past, but it remains a minor quibble for what is otherwise a perfectly fine example of a minivan.
The Dodge Caravan is a good example of why Minivans remain the logical choice for a certain segment of the population. It's capable, has all the family-oriented utility you could ever ask for, has a good safety rating, and even manages to be remarkably fuel efficient, given its size. If you need to buy a minivan (and for your sake I hope that you don't), the Dodge Caravan is an excellent choice.
Specs & Prices
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Power Output: 220 horsepower / 283 lb.-ft. of torque br>
Fuel Economy: 18 mpg (city) / 26 mpg (hyw)
Price: $32,505 (as tested)
Features: UConnect hands-free infotainment system, nav, 2 DVD/Blu-Ray players, 2 overhead 9-inch video screens, 2nd and 3rd row Stow-Go seats, 17-iinch aluminum wheels.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan, click here: 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan.