2012 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T
2012 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T. Click image to enlarge
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Dodge Canada

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

Photo Gallery:
2012 Dodge Grand Caravan

The Dodge Grand Caravan needs no introduction. It has been a mainstay of the Canadian automotive landscape for almost 30 years because of its practicality, value, and, um, did I mention practicality?

While minivans took North America by storm in the 80s and 90s, it’s doubtful that they have ever won over customers for their sportiness or sleek looks. For many years they were the vehicle of choice for soccer moms and suburban families, with seating for seven and sometimes eight, and still plenty of room to pack up for camping or a road trip, and they have only gotten bigger, more comfortable, and more loaded with gizmos.

But the rise of the SUV and its transformation into the crossover segment has dimmed the minivan’s star, and minivans are now more commonly the choice of purely practical and common-sense consumers. A shame, too, because some of the current crop of minivans are actually quite good looking, in my opinion (Toyota Sienna, Nissan Quest, Honda Odyssey).

2012 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T
2012 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T
2012 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T
2012 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T. Click image to enlarge

Unfortunately, the Grand Caravan is not one of them. It seems like a function over form design, and its chiseled edges and square-doff profile do nothing to hide its massive size of over 5 m long and 2 m wide (5,151 mm length, 1998 mm wide, 1725 mm tall). The crosshair grille seems to shrink into a timid nose and the headlights and taillights are confused, lumpy shapes. Our test subject is the Grand Caravan R/T, which gets a special monochrome exterior treatment (essentially a body-coloured grille and skirt package) and polished 17-inch aluminum alloys, with a finish Dodge calls “Satin Carbon”.

Inside, the R/T trim goes a little further to distinguish itself from your typical minivan. The entire interior is done in black, the seats covered in black leather with red stitching, the floor in black carpet and even the headliner and plastics are in black. The leather is a nice touch, but the plastics remain a sore point as they haven’t received the same upgrade as the Journey CUV and Charger sedan have, courtesy of Fiat. Very “man cave”.

A convenient cave as well, with 934 L of cargo space behind the third row, 2,359 L with the third row folded, and a staggering 4,072 L with all the seats stowed. This is the kind of interior space crossovers and SUVs simply cannot compete with at similar price points.

Convenience perks at the R/T trim level include Stow n’ Go seats, nine speakers with amplifier and subwoofer, a unique suspension, heated first and second row seats, second and third row window shades, heated steering wheel, Uconnect voice command with Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming audio, remote USB port, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with integrated microphone.

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