What to consider in buying a used Dodge Grand Caravan?
The Dodge Grand Caravan is a minivan that entered the market in 1987 and continued through 2017. The Dodge Caravan (introduced in 1984), and later Grand Caravan, was built alongside the Chrysler Town & Country, Chrysler-Plymouth Voyager, and Volkswagen Routan. Ultimately the Dodge Grand Caravan was the brainchild of Lee Iacocca and was ten years in coming to fruition for the famous CEO.
Iacocca first pitched the idea while he was at Ford, but the minivan concept was round-filed by the company's top brass and forgotten. Iacocca then brought it to Chrysler when he moved there to take over the helm and the Grand Caravan was born. Introduced in 1983, it entered showrooms as a 1984 model and quickly became the best-selling people mover on the market.
The first-generation Dodge Caravan was a near-instant hit with American families and suburban buyers. The longer wheelbase Grand Caravan was introduced in 1987 as the roomier, more useful version of the van. The Grand Caravan's success was based on the simple formula of offering a car-like entry height, the maneuverability of a sedan, and the spaciousness and people-hauling of a full-sized, usually truck-based van. Both four- and six-cylinder engines were offered.
The second-generation Dodge Grand Caravan came in 1991 came with a lot of interior innovations for the time, including integrated child safety seats and all-wheel drive as an option. Engines and other underpinnings remained largely the same, though some updates were had to modernize them without significant change in displacement or power output. The Grand Caravan continued as the long wheelbase option for the Caravan minivan.
The third-generation Grand Caravan came in 1996 with significant changes throughout. The driver's side sliding door quickly became standard in this generation, as did a conventional door handle for the rear hatch and the new "Easy Out Roller Seats" for rear seat removal. A minor controversy was had when Dodge minivans suffered fuel leaks after side impact crash testing. This ultimately resulted in a recall.
The fourth-generation Dodge Grand Caravan came in 2001 and winning options such as all-wheel drive, dual sliding doors, and four- and six-cylinder engines remained as staples for the van. Power sliding doors and a power rear hatch were options and the V6 was updated with a larger, more powerful and efficient engine. A special 20th Anniversary edition was offered in 2004 to mark the Dodge Caravan's 20th year in production. Fuel leaks in crash tests once again plagued the Dodge vans' reputation.
The fifth- and final-generation Dodge Grand Caravan was introduced for 2008 as a heavily restyled and upscale minivan. The Dodge Caravan was dropped and the long wheelbase Grand Caravan was the only model that remained. Updated engines, including the dropping of the four-cylinder option, and more gears in the transmission helped the Grand Caravan become very fuel efficient compared to others in the class. Seating which stowed within the minivan was now standard as well, making the switch from "passenger mode" to "cargo mode" easier and faster. The Dodge Grand Caravan was eventually discontinued after the 2017 model year and replaced with the all-new Chrysler Pacifica. For used Dodge Grand Caravan buyers, the most common complaint is with premature wear on brakes in the 2008-2010 model years. There is no known reason for this, but replacement of the brake pads and (sometimes) calipers can remedy it.