The 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan is the automotive version of comfort food. Like dear old Grandma's pot roast, the Grand Caravan makes you feel somewhat warm and fuzzy because of its history, but you also find yourself thinking that there's probably something better out there.
The Grand Caravan is far from horrible, and its price can certainly be persuasive. I tested the 2010 Grand Caravan Hero, a catchy name for a midlevel trim level, and it cost $29,265. Considering that it had several optional features such as a backup camera, a rear entertainment system and a power liftgate, that price makes it very attractive. In fact, the whole range of trim levels has attractive MSRPs. There are three other trim levels to choose from with base Grand Caravan starting at $23,660 and the top trim level, Crew, starting at $28,360.
There's nothing new on the 2010 Grand Caravan. It received a needed redesign in 2008, and it's still living off of those changes, which were good, but I'd love to see a more comfortable, stylish interior in its next redesign.
The Grand Caravan drives well enough, even if it isn't exactly agile. It also has a quiet ride, which has to count for something because goodness knows that you already have plenty of kid noise in your life and don't need the addition of road noise to rattle your mind.
In a shocking turn of events, the Grand Caravan looks like a minivan. It seems that no matter how "different" automakers try to make minivans look they always end up looking similar to their predecessors and peers.
Nevertheless, the Grand Caravan has a slightly boxier and sleeker look than it used to. The hood sits higher, the tail end is squared-off and the sliding doors are remarkably smooth and quiet. There is also the standard Dodge front that shines with its crosshair grille. The Grand Caravan also offers a wheel option for everyone with standard 16-inch steel wheels or optional 16- or 17-inch aluminum wheels for added style.
The Grand Caravan comes with a choice of three V-6 engines. My test car had the optional midlevel 197-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 engine that takes regular gas. There's also a standard 175-hp, 3.3-liter V-6 and an optional 251-hp, 4.0-liter V-6. My test car's V-6 gets an EPA-estimated 16/23 mpg city/highway. During my test week, I ended up averaging about 18 or 19 mpg. That's simply not great, especially when I know fuel technology is improving.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some
Besides being fun to say, standard Stow 'n Go seating is the Grand Caravan's outstanding interior feature. Stow n' Go means that the captain's chairs in the second row and the bench in the third row both have the ability to vanish into the floor, creating a perfectly flat cargo space. That's great, but other automakers are catching on to that feature and including it in their minivans (by another name, of course). They're also offering a more upscale interior than what's found in the Grand Caravan.
The Grand Caravan has dull-looking black-and-silver plastic throughout the interior. It's lackluster. I know that Dodge, maker of the Charger, Challenger and Viper, can add more pizazz to this minivan.
I wasn't wild about the turn-signal stalk that also controlled with windshield wipers. I'm so accustomed to these functions being controlled from two separate places
–typically on either side of the steering wheel
–that it took some getting used to. Also, the steering-wheel-mounted audio controls are behind the steering wheel. I'm an out-of-sight, out-of-mind person, so those controls took me a few days to find, let alone use.
My car came with the optional rear entertainment system, which is part of a $2,200 entertainment package. The 9-inch DVD screen in the rear produced a decent picture and kept the kids happy. The wireless headphones and the system's wireless remote control made me happy because I didn't have to listen to "Toy Story" for the 987th time.
In addition to the Grand Caravan's 11 cupholders, there are many storage bins and cubbies throughout the interior. There are so many little trays, dividers, cubbies and pockets that I longed to find a bunch of stuff to put in them and feel organized. Of course, since I have three children younger than age 4, this never happened and likely never will, but knowing I had that option was thrilling.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample/Galore
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
The 2010 Grand Caravan gets a Good rating
–the highest available
–in frontal, side-impact and rear crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, it hasn't undergone IIHS' rollover test, which tests a vehicle's roof strength, so it's not eligible for IIHS' Top Safety Pick status.
The Grand Caravan has three sets of lower Latch anchors
–two sets in the second row and one set in the third row. They're easy to find and use. The third row's Latch anchors are off-center in the middle position. When in use, this makes it difficult to fit three people in that row.
Booster seats fit well in the second row, with stable seat belt buckles that make it easy for kids to buckle up on their own. In the third row, the seat bolsters interfered with the booster seat's fit. The seat belt buckles were floppy in the third row and often fell behind or under the booster seat. Rear- and forward-facing convertible child-safety seats and a rear-facing infant-safety seat were easy to install in the second row.
The Grand Caravan has standard antilock brakes with brake assist, stability control, traction control, front-wheel drive and side curtain airbags for all three rows.
This minivan offers optional safety features, including a blind spot monitoring system, a rear cross-path warning system that alerts driver to oncoming traffic when backing out of a parking space, rear parking sensors and a backup camera, which my test car had and the image was clear. The most exciting optional safety feature of all has to be the integrated booster seats, which are available on the upper trim levels.
Get more safety information about the 2010 Grand Caravanhere
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|David Thomas||Cars.com National||August 16, 2010|
|Bill Jackson||Cars.com National||December 30, 2009|
|Cars.com Staff||Cars.com National||September 1, 2009|
|Courtney Messenbaugh||Mother Proof||October 8, 2010|
|G. Chambers Williams III||Star-Telegram.com||April 22, 2010|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||April 2, 2010|
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