2012 Dodge Grand Caravan

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Key Specs
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Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Interior quality
  • One-touch Stow 'n Go second-row seats
  • Assertive styling

The Bad

  • Limited rearward travel for front seats
  • Cheap airplane-style map lights
  • Stow 'n Go second-row bucket seats not the most comfortable

Notable Features of the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan

  • Lower base price for 2012
  • Fold-into-floor second and third rows
  • Seven standard airbags
  • Optional blind spot monitoring system
  • Optional heated steering wheel

2012 Dodge Grand Caravan Road Test

Kristin Varela

In the to-minivan-or-not-to-minivan debate, parents are about as polarized as most of us are in the age-old dog vs. cat showdown: You're either a minivan person or you're not.

The limitless functionality of the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan, however, is just about enough to convert even the most vocal anti-minivan protestors among us, including my husband.

Our week with the Grand Caravan started with him joking and jesting relentlessly about how hot I looked driving the kids around in the minivan. But by the end of the week — after he drove it with a load including the two of us, all three of our kids and their tall teenage cousin and grandpa to a birthday dinner — he was eating his words. "How much is this van again?" he was asking sheepishly. "Wow — you get a lot of space for the money. … I could see us having one of these — you know, just as a third car for hauling the whole family."

The Grand Caravan hasn't changed much since the 2011 model year, though this year's base price is a sweet $3,000 lower. Who doesn't like that? See both model years side by side here. The Grand Caravan I drove was the SXT, but the Grand Caravan also comes in three other trim levels: SE, Crew and R/T. See them all compared here.

EXTERIOR
While minivans are as notoriously frumpy-looking as mom-jeans, the Grand Caravan isn't offensive to me at all. It's evolved just enough since its last major redesign, which left its squared-off butt loo...

In the to-minivan-or-not-to-minivan debate, parents are about as polarized as most of us are in the age-old dog vs. cat showdown: You're either a minivan person or you're not.

The limitless functionality of the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan, however, is just about enough to convert even the most vocal anti-minivan protestors among us, including my husband.

Our week with the Grand Caravan started with him joking and jesting relentlessly about how hot I looked driving the kids around in the minivan. But by the end of the week — after he drove it with a load including the two of us, all three of our kids and their tall teenage cousin and grandpa to a birthday dinner — he was eating his words. "How much is this van again?" he was asking sheepishly. "Wow — you get a lot of space for the money. … I could see us having one of these — you know, just as a third car for hauling the whole family."

The Grand Caravan hasn't changed much since the 2011 model year, though this year's base price is a sweet $3,000 lower. Who doesn't like that? See both model years side by side here. The Grand Caravan I drove was the SXT, but the Grand Caravan also comes in three other trim levels: SE, Crew and R/T. See them all compared here.

EXTERIOR
While minivans are as notoriously frumpy-looking as mom-jeans, the Grand Caravan isn't offensive to me at all. It's evolved just enough since its last major redesign, which left its squared-off butt looking like a toaster oven on wheels. Sure, it's still thick and heavy, simply because it's a van, but my test vehicle's dark charcoal metallic paint gave it a decidedly bad-ass, man-van look. I'd rather drive that than a toaster any day.

The Grand Caravan's low step-in height and high headroom eased entry and exit for everyone in my family, from my 7-year-old daughter to my 70-year-old father: Neither climbing nor ducking required. However, my 16-year-old nephew, in his hormonal teen stupor, was very confused by the power button that opens the optional power-sliding side doors from the inside. After a few efforts to explain it to him — "just push that button there" — resulted in that blank stare teenagers have perfected, I finally just opened the door for him using the button above the rearview mirror.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FEATURES
The Grand Caravan has so many family-friendly features I doubt I could cover them all in one review. My favorite feature over other minivans today is the Grand Caravan's flexibility: The second-row Stow 'n Go folding seats disappear completely into the floor, trumping all other minivans on the market and allowing for a total of 81 seating configurations, according to the number-crunchers at Dodge.

When the second-row seats are raised, there are two huge storage bins in the floor in front of them where you can stash anything from backpacks to soccer balls. When you have fewer people and more stuff, the seats fold into those storage bins. It's quite an easy process: Just open up the bin and, using a single hand, release the lever. The seat then folds, flips and tumbles effortlessly into the floor. The second-row captain's chairs also slide back and forth to create extra legroom in either the second or third row.

The third-row bench seat also disappears into the floor when not needed, though its process is a little more complicated. It consists of pulling a series of four numbered nylon straps. Folding the seats back up into place is a bit of a puzzle, causing me to guess which strap to tug and when. Apparently, pulling strap 2 and then strap 4 is the magic combination.

It's an impressive sight, watching this minivan transform from a people-hauler with seven seats into a cavernous, open cargo van in mere moments. I can definitely see the benefit for my family, which hauls family members one minute then rents a Home Depot van for DIY projects the next. I'd prefer coming along for a DIY load in the Caravan rather than one of those gross rentals.

In addition to the under-floor storage bins in the second row, there are nooks and crannies for everything your family's heart desires. We especially liked the optional "super console" that was part of the Power Convenience Group I Package. The bottom portion of the super console slides back to open a storage bin and two cupholders that second row passengers can access. This is extremely helpful, as the only other storage provisions for the second row are small bottleholders in each side door, plus pockets on the back of the front seats. Third-row passengers have their own cupholders and open storage bins.

My test car also came equipped with the optional $1,395 single-screen DVD system. While I typically shy away from integrated entertainment systems (letting the kids use my iPad is often easier and more versatile), I was impressed that the kids could get the Grand Caravan's DVD working on their own without assistance.

The rear cargo space is deep and has plenty of room on its own (33 cubic feet), and even more with the third row folded down (83.3 cubic feet). Stow the second row as well, and cargo space expands to an impressive 143.8 cubic feet. The optional power liftgate is an absolute must for families with young kiddos, allowing you to open the liftgate while still keeping a grasp on little Timmy in the busy parking lot, with another hand left over to load the groceries.

And speaking of little Timmy's safety, the extra-large foldaway garment hooks are located just behind the second-row seat, so you can hang your dry cleaning back there without risking suffocation to the children sitting in the second row.

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore

SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Excellent
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some

BEHIND THE WHEEL
The Grand Caravan looks much bulkier than it feels to drive. While of course it's long and wide, just like every other minivan, its 39.1-foot turning diameter allowed me to make the tight turn in and out of my garage every time without having to give it multiple tries.

The Grand Caravan, surprisingly, has close to no body roll on winding roads. It hugs the road nicely, making me feel in solid control at all times. Where you really feel like you're driving around in your entire living room is when trying to get the 283-horsepower, 3.6-liter engine to accelerate up hills. You'll feel the weight when braking, too, though I adjusted pretty quickly to the extra braking distance required.

The Grand Caravan's EPA mileage rating is 17/25 mpg city/highway.

SAFETY
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Grand Caravan an overall score of four out of five stars for its crash tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2012 Grand Caravan Good (its top rating) in all categories, earning it Top Safety Pick status.

As is required of all 2012 models, the Grand Caravan has standard antilock brakes, an electronic stability system and traction control.

The Grand Caravan features dual front airbags, dual side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags for all three rows.

Families installing child-safety seats will have plenty of room for just about any configuration of rear-facing, forward-facing and/or booster seats. The second-row captain's chairs each have their own set of Latch anchors that are open, visible and easily accessible, regardless of the type of child seat you're connecting. The top-tether anchors are toward the bottom on the back of each seat and are also very easy to access. The third row has one extra set of lower Latch anchors, slightly off-center from the middle of the bench seat.

Children in booster seats can easily buckle their own seat belts in the second row, thanks to buckles in the captain's chairs that are on stable bases. The third row belt buckles are on nylon bases, making it more difficult for younger kids with more limited dexterity to buckle up independently.

In addition to the safety features listed above, the 2012 Grand Caravan offers an optional Safety Sphere Package that includes a rear park assist system, with sensors on the rear bumper to let you know, via an audible tone, if you're about to back into something (or someone). This package also includes a backup camera, a blind spot warning system and Chrysler's cross path detection system. Cross path uses radar to "watch" not only directly behind you when you back up, but also to either side of the rear of your vehicle, ensuring you're not going to back out of a parking space as someone is speeding into your "cross path."

See all the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan's standard safety features listed here.

Send Kristin an email  



Latest 2012 Grand Caravan Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.1)
Performance
(4.0)
Interior Design
(4.2)
Comfort
(4.2)
Reliability
(3.9)
Value For The Money
(4.1)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

My second Dodge Caravan

by VanGirl from Modesto, CA on August 2, 2018

It is a great van for the money. I can fold the seats down into the floor and have a completely flat surface or pop one up for a third passenger and still have a lot of cargo space. Read full review

(3.0)

Regrets

by Diane from Euclid, Ohio on July 23, 2018

I like the vehicle very much when it is not in the shop. It looks nice and is comfortable, but it is so unreliable that in the 6 months i have owed it I hae had to have it towed twice. Now $1800 worth ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan currently has 0 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan SE/AVP

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Dodge

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, Carfax vehicle history report, rental car and 24-hour towing, and first day rental

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    7 years/100,000 mile warranty on all certified vehicles
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 75,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 125 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Grand Caravan received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker