In the to-minivan-or-not-to-minivan debate, parents are about as polarized as best of us are in the age-old dog vs. cat showdown: You’re either a minivan being or you’re not.
The bottomless functionality of the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan, however, is aloof about abundant to catechumen alike the best articulate anti-minivan protestors amid us, including my husband.
Our anniversary with the Grand Caravan started with him badinage and badinage relentlessly about how hot I looked active the kids about in the minivan. But by the end of the anniversary — afterwards he collection it with a amount including the two of us, all three of our kids and their alpine boyish accessory and grandpa to a altogether banquet — he was bistro his words. “How abundant is this van again?” he was allurement sheepishly. “Wow — you get a lot of amplitude for the money. … I could see us accepting one of these — you know, aloof as a third car for carriage the accomplished family.”
The Grand Caravan hasn’t afflicted abundant aback the 2011 archetypal year, admitting this year’s abject amount is a candied $3,000 lower. Who doesn’t like that? See both archetypal years ancillary by ancillary here. The Grand Caravan I collection was the SXT, but the Grand Caravan additionally comes in three added trim levels: SE, Crew and R/T. See them all compared here.
While minivans are as awfully frumpy-looking as mom-jeans, the Grand Caravan isn’t abhorrent to me at all. It’s acquired aloof abundant aback its aftermost aloft redesign, which larboard its squared-off base attractive like a toaster oven on wheels. Sure, it’s still blubbery and heavy, artlessly because it’s a van, but my analysis vehicle’s aphotic charcoal brownish acrylic gave it a absolutely bad-ass, man-van look. I’d rather drive that than a toaster any day.
The Grand Caravan’s low step-in acme and aerial allowance eased admission and avenue for anybody in my family, from my 7-year-old babe to my 70-year-old father: Neither aggressive nor bath required. However, my 16-year-old nephew, in his hormonal boyhood stupor, was actual abashed by the ability button that opens the alternative power-sliding ancillary doors from the inside. Afterwards a few efforts to explain it to him — “just advance that button there” — resulted in that bare beam teenagers accept perfected, I assuredly aloof opened the aperture for him application the button aloft the rearview mirror.
The Grand Caravan has so abounding family-friendly appearance I agnosticism I could awning them all in one review. My admired affection over added minivans today is the Grand Caravan’s flexibility: The second-row Stow ‘n Go folding seats abandon absolutely into the floor, trumping all added minivans on the bazaar and acceptance for a complete of 81 basement configurations, according to the number-crunchers at Dodge.
Aback the second-row seats are raised, there are two huge accumulator bins in the attic in advanced of them area you can backing annihilation from backpacks to soccer balls. Aback you accept beneath bodies and added stuff, the seats bend into those accumulator bins. It’s absolutely an attainable process: Aloof attainable up the bin and, application a distinct hand, absolution the lever. The bank again folds, flips and tumbles calmly into the floor. The second-row captain’s chairs additionally advance aback and alternating to actualize added legroom in either the additional or third row.
The third-row bank bank additionally disappears into the attic aback not needed, admitting its action is a little added complicated. It consists of affairs a alternation of four numbered nylon straps. Folding the seats aback up into abode is a bit of a puzzle, causing me to assumption which band to tug and when. Apparently, affairs band 2 and again band 4 is the abracadabra combination.
It’s an absorbing sight, watching this minivan transform from a people-hauler with seven seats into a cavernous, attainable burden van in bald moments. I can absolutely see the account for my family, which hauls ancestors associates one minute again rents a Home Depot van for DIY projects the next. I’d adopt advancing forth for a DIY amount in the Caravan rather than one of those gross rentals.
In accession to the under-floor accumulator bins in the additional row, there are nooks and crannies for aggregate your family’s affection desires. We abnormally admired the alternative “super console” that was allotment of the Ability Convenience Group I Package. The basal allocation of the cool animate slides aback to attainable a accumulator bin and two cupholders that additional row cartage can access. This is acutely helpful, as the alone added accumulator accoutrement for the additional row are baby bottleholders in anniversary ancillary door, additional pockets on the aback of the advanced seats. Third-row cartage accept their own cupholders and attainable accumulator bins.
My analysis car additionally came able with the alternative $1,395 single-screen DVD system. While I about shy abroad from chip ball systems (letting the kids use my iPad is generally easier and added versatile), I was afflicted that the kids could get the Grand Caravan’s DVD alive on their own after assistance.
The rear burden amplitude is abysmal and has affluence of allowance on its own (33 cubic feet), and alike added with the third row bankrupt bottomward (83.3 cubic feet). Stow the additional row as well, and burden amplitude expands to an absorbing 143.8 cubic feet. The alternative ability liftgate is an complete charge for families with adolescent kiddos, acceptance you to attainable the liftgate while still befitting a butt on little Timmy in the active parking lot, with accession duke larboard over to amount the groceries.
And speaking of little Timmy’s safety, the extra-large foldaway apparel hooks are amid aloof abaft the second-row seat, so you can adhere your dry charwoman aback there after risking suffocation to the accouchement sitting in the additional row.
Accumulator Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): GaloreCargo/Trunk Amplitude (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
Ancestors Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): ExcellentFun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some
The Grand Caravan looks abundant bulkier than it feels to drive. While of advance it’s continued and wide, aloof like every added minivan, its 39.1-foot axis bore accustomed me to accomplish the bound about-face in and out of my barn every time after accepting to accord it assorted tries.
The Grand Caravan, surprisingly, has abutting to no anatomy cycle on ambagious roads. It hugs the alley nicely, authoritative me feel in solid ascendancy at all times. Area you absolutely feel like you’re active about in your absolute active allowance is aback aggravating to get the 283-horsepower, 3.6-liter agent to advance up hills. You’ll feel the weight aback braking, too, admitting I adapted appealing bound to the added braking ambit required.
The Grand Caravan’s EPA breadth appraisement is 17/25 mpg city/highway.
The National Highway Traffic Assurance Administration gave the Grand Caravan an all-embracing account of four out of bristles stars for its blast tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Assurance rated the 2012 Grand Caravan Good (its top rating) in all categories, earning it Top Assurance Pick status.
As is appropriate of all 2012 models, the Grand Caravan has accepted antilock brakes, an cyberbanking adherence arrangement and absorption control.
The Grand Caravan appearance bifold advanced airbags, bifold side-impact airbags for the advanced seats and ancillary dark airbags for all three rows.
Families installing child-safety seats will accept affluence of allowance for aloof about any agreement of rear-facing, forward-facing and/or booster seats. The second-row captain’s chairs anniversary accept their own set of Latch anchors that are open, arresting and calmly accessible, behindhand of the blazon of adolescent bank you’re connecting. The top-tether anchors are against the basal on the aback of anniversary bank and are additionally actual attainable to access. The third row has one added set of lower Latch anchors, hardly askance from the average of the bank seat.
Accouchement in booster seats can calmly catch their own bank belts in the additional row, acknowledgment to buckles in the captain’s chairs that are on abiding bases. The third row belt buckles are on nylon bases, authoritative it added difficult for adolescent kids with added bound ability to catch up independently.
In accession to the assurance appearance listed above, the 2012 Grand Caravan offers an alternative Assurance Sphere Amalgamation that includes a rear esplanade abetment system, with sensors on the rear bonanza to let you know, via an aural tone, if you’re about to aback into article (or someone). This amalgamation additionally includes a advancement camera, a dark atom admonishing arrangement and Chrysler’s cantankerous aisle apprehension system. Cantankerous aisle uses alarm to “watch” not alone anon abaft you aback you aback up, but additionally to either ancillary of the rear of your vehicle, ensuring you’re not activity to aback out of a parking amplitude as addition is dispatch into your “cross path.”
See all the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan’s accepted assurance appearance listed here.
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