When you are looking at used cars for sale, you are probably trying to get the maximum value for your money. Buying a sedan or coupe will give you performance and comfort, but not a great deal of space for passengers or cargo. Pickup trucks give you plenty of cargo space, but they aren’t the easiest vehicles to maneuver. SUVs can give you room and performance, but their configurations often leave you choosing between space for passengers and stuff. This means that if you want both passenger and cargo space at an affordable price, your best choice is to buy a used minivan.
One of the best minivans on the used vehicle market in terms of performance, versatility, and affordability is the Dodge Grand Caravan. The Grand Caravan celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2019 and is currently in its fifth generation, which was introduced by Dodge for the 2008 model year. This has been an extremely successful model, so Dodge has not yet needed to launch a sixth generation of the Grand Caravan. Nevertheless, there have been a number of incremental changes made to the model since 2008 that you should be aware of when you go to buy a used Grand Caravan.
In general, the Dodge Grand Caravan features capable handling and a powerful engine with above-average performance. The current 2020 Dodge Grand Caravan features only one engine option, but it is a very strong one. This is a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 gas engine, which produces 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It comes paired with a 6-speed Multi-Speed 62TE automatic transmission to give you great convenience and control. This engine was made standard with the 2011 model year.
Prior to 2011, the Dodge Grand Caravan featured three different engine options. The base model has a 3.3-liter Flex-Fuel V6 that produces 175 horsepower and 205 lb-ft of torque. The other two engines are a 3.8-liter V6 that produces 197 horsepower and 230 lb-ft of torque, and an all-aluminum 4.0-liter V6 producing 251 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque. The 3.3-liter engine is paired with a 4-speed automatic transmission, while the two larger engines come with 6-speed automatic transmissions.
Right off the bat, you will notice that the standard V6 on all 2011 and later models is more powerful than any of the three engines on the older fifth-generation Grand Caravan models, even though it is smaller than two of them. As a result, you can not only expect greater pickup with the later models, but the greater torque also allows the Grand Caravan models with the 3.6-liter V6 to tow trailers weighing up to 3,600 pounds. Finally, the 6-speed automatic transmission will be more responsive than the 4-speed automatic that came with the 3.3-liter V6 on some older models. Therefore, if you want better overall performance, including trailering, you should look for a Grand Caravan from the 2011 model year or later.
All current Dodge Grand Caravan minivans are front-wheel drive only. However, Dodge offered the previous generations of the Grand Caravan with an optional all-wheel drivetrain. So if you live in an area with significant winter weather, you might consider buying an older used Grand Caravan with all-wheel drive to address this concern.
One of the main reasons that Dodge has not seen fit to introduce a new generation Grand Caravan is that the engineers at Dodge provided the current design with an exceptional balance of passenger and cargo space. There is a full 163 cubic feet of passenger space in the Grand Caravan. This is plenty of room for you and up to six passengers to really stretch out, even on long road trips.
The design has also efficiently divided that room between the Grand Caravan’s three rows. The rows are set up with two passengers in front, two passengers in the second row, and three passengers in a third-row bench seat. Front-row passengers will enjoy 39.8 inches of headroom, 40.7 inches of legroom, 63.7 inches of shoulder room, and 58.4 inches of hip room. You will notice that these figures mirror many of those for the rear two rows. Second-row passengers have 39.3 inches of headroom, 36.5 inches of legroom, 64.1 inches of shoulder room, and 65 inches of hip room, while passengers in the third row will appreciate having 37.9 inches of headroom, 32.7 inches of legroom, 62 inches of shoulder room, and 48.7 inches of hip room.
The Dodge Grand Caravan has a full 33 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row of seats. This is plenty of room for seven people to take along all of their luggage on a road trip. Few SUVs can make the same claim. Further, this cargo space expands to an amazing 143.8 cubic feet with the rear rows of seats folded down. Dodge has made this easy by offering the Grand Caravan with Stow ‘n Go seats in the second row. You can quickly and easily turn your Grand Caravan into a cargo van if you need to move larger objects.
Buying a used Dodge Grand Caravan will also give you peace of mind that you and your passengers will be safe and sound during your journeys. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2008 Grand Caravan a top five-star rating in front and side crash testing. And on top of these crash ratings, Dodge made multiple airbags, a four-wheel anti-lock braking system, stability control, and traction control standard on all Dodge Grand Caravan minivans starting with the 2008 model year.
An auto-dimming rearview mirror was also made standard with the 2019 model year of the Grand Caravan. In addition, many used Grand Caravans come with the optional Dodge Safety Sphere Group. This includes a blind-spot monitoring system, rear park and cross traffic sensors, and a rearview camera. Check the model specifications on the used Grand Caravan you are considering buying to make sure it has all of the safety features you desire.
Most modern vehicles come with an infotainment system that combines information and entertainment features in a user-friendly format. The current Grand Caravan has a 6.5-inch color touchscreen for its Uconnect system with many features that today’s drivers take for granted, like Bluetooth connectivity and SiriusXM satellite radio. However, older used models may lack certain features like satellite radio and smartphone compatibility. A great deal has to do with age, and a used 2008 model year Grand Caravan will have fewer features than a used 2018 model year one.
The Dodge Grand Caravan also offers an optional entertainment system for the rear two rows. This system allows the rear passengers to enjoy watching DVDs and streaming videos, which is especially helpful for drivers with young children to keep them entertained during long trips. Again, if this is a feature you desire, you should check to make sure it comes on the used Dodge Grand Caravan you are considering for purchase.
Some folks think you can’t have it all. But in buying a used Dodge Grand Caravan, you are giving yourself the opportunity to get all the features you want at a great price that you can afford. And what can be grander than that?