The 2015 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.
All manner of vehicles, particularly the ever-growing "crossover" class, purport to be family-oriented, but if you have either a lot of family or a lot of cargo to consistently move from place to place, it's still almost impossible to beat a minivan. And in many respects it's hard to beat the originator of the genre, Dodge's all-things-to-all-people Grand Caravan.
Chrysler long had a rather confusing array of minivan models from both its Dodge and Chrysler brands, but buying one is much simpler now that each brand's lineup has been pared to a single model. For Dodge, the 2015 Grand Caravan essentially is the culmination of everything most minivan buyers over the years proved was most important in a family hauler: plenty of engine power combined with reasonable fuel economy and Chrysler's still-brilliant Stow 'n Go instantly disappearing second-row seating.
What you don't get, unfortunately, is the utmost in refinement. For many drivers simply doing the weekly school run and grocery-store duties, the Grand Caravan's shortcomings may not even be noticeable. But longer trips likely will reveal that this Dodge people mover doesn't ride as compliantly as its Japanese competitors, nor are its engine and transmission as smooth or silent. There's a little more road and wind noise, too, although once again, this is conspicuous more at highway speeds than around town. The Grand Caravan's cabin finishes also aren't quite up to the competition's standards in a few places.
These are small flaws, certainly, but they show up nonetheless when comparing the DGC to its well-executed rivals such as the 2015 Honda Odyssey and 2015 Toyota Sienna. Both of these popular choices have fine engines, nicely appointed cabins and excellent road manners. The Sienna can also handle up to a total of eight occupants, where the Grand Caravan's limit is seven. Slightly rarer though no less worth your consideration is the 2015 Nissan Quest, nor should you overlook Kia's fully redesigned 2015 Sedona this year.
As there is a rich pool of strong entries, we recommend thoroughly considering all the choices for a minivan. But given that a well-equipped Caravan is generally less expensive than the competition, that advantage could be the ultimate deciding factor in the Dodge's favor.