Dodge started the minivan segment when the first generation Caravan launched in 1984. Almost thirty years later, the 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan is five years into its fifth generation and facing stiff competition from Japanese rivals. Can it compete in today’s harsh market? Lets break down the details for find out.
|STATS||Starting Retail Price||As Tested Price||HP / Lb-Ft|
|2013 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT||$26,695||$32,875||283 / 260|
|EPA Rating MPG||As Tested MPG|
|Rating: LEASE IT!||17 / 25 Combined 20||Combined 22.3|
The Grand Caravan looks and feels relatively compact out and in. Yet, this Stow-n-Go equipped test vehicle was able to hold four adults and three kids in comfort. Once you get in and get going, you can tell that this is the hot rod of the minivan. More on this later.
The current generation of the Grand Caravan was introduced in 2008 and received a refresh in 2011. Exterior styling aims to be aggressive and powerful, but the overall shape does not lend itself well to aggression. I like the exterior design theme as far as minivans go, but it is again showing its age. On the inside, I like the driver-centric instrument cluster and the thick steering wheel. In general, many of the interior surfaces use cost saving materials and could be improved. Dodge’s unique Stow-n-Go second row is an interesting feature. It has pluses and minuses. The large floor wells work great to storing or hiding your things. When you are ready to fold the seats into the floor, the front row seat needs to be moved nearly all the way forward. The folding mechanism is easily activated using one lever, but sliding the front seats is time consuming and spoils the experience. Also, you do not have an option to completely remove the second row out of the vehicle.
Guess what’s under the hood of this hot rod? Yep, it’s the good old 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. In this application, it sends 283 horses and 260 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels. This is the most power and torque in the class. The 6-speed automatic transmits the power and does a fairly good job. It has a slight delay at launch – probably trying to limit the power and avoid most of the torque steer. However, once it gets going – it revs quickly and gets up to 6,500 rpm before shifting. Watch the video below as Roman tests an identical van 0-60 MPH at a mile above sea level. It did very well!
The handling of the Grand Caravan is much like that of minivans of yore. It has a healthy lean in corners, but it’s manageable and to be expected of such a big vehicle. I have not tested a Caravan R/T, but if it’s anything close to that of Durango R/T – that would exceptional. This Caravan SXT has a nice and compliant ride. It handles rough pavement nicely, when mostly empty or with seven people onboard. I was not wowed by this Caravan’s handling and ride, but I do not have any major complaints. I could see taking a family on a long road trip with no problems.
|Starting Retail Price||City/Hwy MPG||HP / Lb-Ft||Cargo cu-ft|
|2013 Dodge Grand Caravan||$19,995||17/25||283/260||143.8 / 33.0|
|2013 Honda Odyssey||$28,675||18/27||248/250||148.5 / 38.4|
|2013 Mazda Mazda5||$19,940||21/28||157/163|
|2013 Nissan Quest||$25,990||19/25||260/240||108.4 / 25.7|
|2013 Toyota Sienna||$26,585||18/25||266/245||150.0 / 39.1|
Are you wondering what happened to the KIA Sedona? It took the 2013 model off on vacation, and it will be back again as a 2014 model. This is why it’s not included in this 2013 comparison. As you can see, the Grand Caravan has a smaller cargo carrying volume than the heavy hitters from Japan, the Odyssey and and Sienna. Nissan Quest and the Mazda5 are much smaller. The Dodge is the most powerful of the bunch and still shows good MPG numbers. But the real difference is the starting price. In fact, a base Dodge is nearly $9,000 cheaper than the base Odyssey.
On the TFLcar scale of:
- Buy it!
- Lease it!
- Rent it!
- … or Forget it!
I give the 2013 Dodge Caravan SXT a Lease It! This test 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT stickered at $32,875. The test vehicle came with dual DVD/Blueray entertainment system, key fob operated power doors and rear gate. Kids loved playing with the door and rear gate buttons. It also had a remote start feature. The Dodge is not as luxurious and plush as the Honda or the Toyota, but it does bring a good value proposition. If you want a fancy Caravan, you look at the Chrysler Town & Country. I averaged a good 22.3 MPG after a week of mixed city and highway driving, so it has no issues with economy. I am giving it a Lease It! rating because of the mediocre interior quality that feels a little like a rental van and not very inviting.
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Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, writer, reporter, and software engineer. He has been a contributor at TFLcar since 2011. When not working or spending time with the family – you can find him tinkering in the garage or scouring the internet and other media for various automotive, mechanical, and computer related information.