2013 Dodge Grand Caravan Crew Plus
2013 Dodge Grand Caravan Crew Plus
2013 Dodge Grand Caravan Crew Plus. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

Though automotive reviewers routinely prefer the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna over the Dodge Grand Caravan, the latter is Canada’s bestselling minivan by far, representing over half of all minivan purchases.  It’s been the bestselling minivan for the past 28 years (if you include the former short-wheelbase Caravan and Plymouth Voyager) and was the fourth-best-selling vehicle in Canada last month.

So why does the Grand Caravan do so well on the showroom floor but not so well in media comparison tests?  A much lower base price is the main reason, but there are other reasons too.  The base 2013 Grand Caravan SE Canada Value Package model sells for $19,895 (after company discounts) plus $1,595 Freight.  For that unbeatable price it offers all the basic minivan features that most families need: seven seats, fold-under-the-floor third row seats, dual sliding rear doors, air conditioning with driver and passenger temperature controls, automatic transmission, V6 engine, power front windows, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, remote keyless entry, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, plenty of storage bins and cupholders – and a five-year powertrain warranty.

For comparison, the base Toyota Sienna V6 starts at $29,140 (minus current $1,500 rebate) plus $1,695 Freight while the base Honda Odyssey LX V6 starts at $29,990 plus $1,370 Freight.  To be fair, the base Sienna and Odyssey have more standard equipment than the base Grand Caravan and are more comparable with a mid-level Grand Caravan SXT ($24,695 after discounts), but if you want an adequately equipped minivan with a powerful V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission, the base Grand Caravan SE Canada Value Package is still the best buy out there.

However, once you start moving up the Grand Caravan’s trim levels, pricing gets closer to its rivals, particularly when you start adding the many options available.   Case in point is today’s Dodge Grand Caravan Crew Plus test van, which is one step below the top-of-the-line R/T trim.  It comes well equipped for $30,995 (after the current $3,500 discount off its $34,495 MSRP), but our minivan had an additional  $10,000 worth of options bringing the as-tested price to over $41,000.  (By the way, a full list of 2013 Grand Caravan MSRPs and trim levels can be found at the end of this article.)

Watch for Autos.ca’s big “Minivan Smackdown” Comparison Test next month: Odyssey vs Sienna vs Quest vs Grand Caravan vs Mazda5 – 36 seats, 10 sliding doors, 42 cupholders. It’s going to be brutal…

2013 Dodge Grand Caravan Crew Plus2013 Dodge Grand Caravan Crew Plus2013 Dodge Grand Caravan Crew Plus2013 Dodge Grand Caravan Crew Plus
2013 Dodge Grand Caravan Crew Plus. Click image to enlarge

Interior impressions

Our Crew Plus van was equipped with black leather seats with white stitching, leather wrapped steering wheel, a brightly lit instrument cluster, dark ash wood trim, and discreet use of chrome and silver trim on the dash, console and door.  It’s an attractive interior, but I found some of the hard plastic materials to be of average quality that didn’t quite match its $40,000 price tag.

The Grand Caravan’s cabin isn’t quite as large as its competitors because of its lower roof height, but there is still plenty of headroom and adequate legroom for seven adults, plus a fairly good-sized storage well behind the third row seats.  The Crew Plus includes front seat heaters and Chrysler’s unique Stow ‘N Go second and third row seats: the second row captain’s chairs fold completely under the floor as do the split third row seats.  The only difficulty is that you have to move the front seats all the way forwards to open the floor lid so that the second row seats will fold into their wells, and then move the front seats back again.  You also have to watch that your fingers don’t get caught in the folding seat mechanism.

The end result is a completely flat cargo floor behind the front seats that will swallow a small couch or dining table – perfect for those moving jobs your family and friends will pester you for when they find out you own a minivan.

Connect with Autos.ca