The 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan is priced right and chock full of handy features, but its lack of refinement keeps it a notch below the Japanese-brand competition in the minivan segment.
We live in a global economy, but the 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan is the minivan to get your patriotism pumping. It was Dodge after all, that invented this genre in 1984, striking that perfect balance between industrial-strength work vans and less versatile wagons and hatchbacks. The original Caravan's overnight success spawned legions of imitators, and a few from Japan have become formidable rivals. But the Dodge will always be the one that started it all, and that's got to count for something.
The Grand Caravan was treated to a thorough overhaul for 2011, and those powertrain and interior updates remain appealing three years later. There's class-leading power under the hood, respectable frugality at the pump and modern technology in the cabin, as well as cleverly designed second-row seats that fold into the floor at the flick of a lever. Furthermore, a base Grand Caravan is considerably cheaper than its import-brand competitors.
In other respects, however, the Grand Caravan comes up a bit short compared with the competition. Although that recent update did wonders to help the Grand Caravan's attributes, the van still suffers from a lack of refinement. It's particularly noticeable on the road, where you'll find that the engine is noisier and the transmission doesn't shift as smoothly. In addition, the Dodge's ride isn't as comfortable or composed.
How important this is to you will likely depend on your priorities. We certainly suggest comparing the 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan (and its Chrysler Town & Country twin) to the Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest and Toyota Sienna, as they provide smoother engine and transmission performance, higher interior quality and a more comfortable ride. And even though all three lack the Grand Caravan's easy-to-configure seating, the Odyssey and Sienna offer eight-passenger capacity versus the Dodge's seven.
The 2014 Grand Caravan may still be the patriotic choice, but it's got its work cut out in other respects.