Dodges extended-length Grand Caravan and its shorter Caravan companion rank as the most popular minivans on the market. For 2003, Grand Caravans may be equipped with a new power sunroof, a factory-installed DVD-based entertainment system and power-adjustable pedals.
Nearly identical in size to the Chrysler Town & Country, the Grand Caravan comes in SE, Sport and ES trim levels, along with value-priced eX and eL versions. The Sport and ES editions with the 3.8-liter engine may be equipped with all-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard.
Measuring 200.5 inches long overall, the Grand Caravan comes only on the longer, 119.3-inch wheelbase. Dual sliding side doors are installed, and power operation for both is standard on the ES. A power sliding door for the passenger side is standard on the eX and optional on the Sport and eL models. The tires are 15 inches in diameter on the front-drive eX, eL and Sport versions, while 16-inchers go on the other models.
The power sliding doors have a manual override feature and can be opened and closed by hand while the power phase is in operation. An optional rear power liftgate on the eX and ES models may be operated by remote control or an interior switch.
All models seat seven occupants, but the eL, eX and ES have Quad Command second-row bucket seats. The ES may be fitted with leather upholstery rather than cloth. Cargo capacity measures 167.9 cubic feet when the second- and third-row seats are removed.
DaimlerChryslers minivans do not have a third-row seat that folds into the floor. A 50/50-split third-row bench seat on the eL, eX and ES models divides into two sections that can be removed separately, reclined or folded flat.
A center console with a power outlet can be mounted between either the front- or second-row seats in the eX and ES. Both the eX and ES can have an optional DVD-based rear-seat entertainment system. Adjustable pedals with a 2.75-inch range are also optional.
Under the Hood
A 180-horsepower, 3.3-liter V-6 engine goes into the SE, eL and FWD Sport models. The all-wheel-drive eX, ES and Sport minivans get a 215-hp, 3.8-liter V-6. All models use a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Antilock brakes and seat belt pretensioners for the front seats are standard. The front airbags have multistage inflators, and side-impact airbags are optional.
From exceptional seat comfort to its appealing ride and satisfying engine response, Dodges larger minivan does nearly everything correctly. Lively acceleration from a standstill with the 3.3-liter V-6 is not quite matched by the Grand Caravans passing and merging prowess, but performance is more than adequate. Buyers who travel in mountainous states or desire extra confidence on the highway may want to consider the 3.8-liter engine.
Like other DaimlerChrysler minivans, the Grand Caravan handles with a relatively light touch, which yields an excellent steering feel. It is secure on the highway and copes admirably with curves. The Grand Caravan is especially easy to drive. No shopper should buy an extended-length minivan without test-driving the quiet-running Grand Caravan.