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2017 Dodge Grand Caravan Overview
The real news regarding Dodge’s 2017 Grand Caravan is that there will be a 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan. A memo “leaked” from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) indicates the Grand Caravan, initially scheduled to be deleted from the Dodge lineup after 2016, will get an extended life to cover fleet sales here in the U.S. and fulfill orders from Canadian dealers while production of upscale Chrylser minis like the new Pacifica and redesigned Town & Country gear up for 2017. This useful Dodge is the most popular minivan sold in Canada, and FCA is doubtless leery of losing this market. The bad news for the Grand Caravan lineup is that this reprise is, as of now, temporary, and production will be limited to only enough units to cover the interim between late 2016 and early 2017.
The growing popularity of crossovers has led to speculation that the minivan’s days are numbered, but its passenger capacity, livable MSRP, and sheer practicality have since brought about a resurgence in minivan sales. Chrysler is usually credited with inventing the modern minivan, and Dodge’s Grand Caravan, the least expensive of FCA’s minivan offerings, has been a market staple since its inception for the 1987 model year.
The Grand Caravan will remain unchanged for 2017. It offers 5 doors and seating for 7 in 3 rows, with trims including the SE, SE Plus, SXT, SXT Plus, and the flagship R/T (Road/Track). All trims will be delivered only with front-wheel drive (FWD) and all will offer an impressive 143 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded.
Powering the Grand Caravan is a 3.6-liter V6 engine. Mated to the standard 6-speed shiftable automatic transmission, the V6 puts out 283 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, while burning regular unleaded at an estimated 17 mpg city/25 highway/20 combined. One track test had the current Grand Caravan trotting from 0-60 mph in 8 seconds flat, which is about average for its class. Payload and towing capacity are maxed out at 1,540 pounds and 3,600 pounds, respectively. The Grand Caravan’s ride is far from plush, and handling on all trims other than the semi-sporty R/T tends to be lethargic.
Among the Grand Caravan’s unique features are the trademark Stow ‘N Go fold-in-floor second-row seating arrangement and an available power-folding third-row seat, which doubles over into a well beneath the rear cargo area for more efficient use of cargo space. Then there’s Chrysler’s available Bluetooth-integrated Uconnect infotainment and telematics technology, boasting a 6.5-inch touchscreen display. A pair of rear power-sliding doors, meanwhile, have a “gentle-close” feature that automatically pushes the doors back if they encounter an obstacle while closing.
The SE and SXT are typically equipped for the segment, boasting cruise control, telescoping tilt-wheel steering, dual-zone air conditioning, and a CD/MP3 player sporting 4 speakers and an auxiliary audio input. The Plus versions of these trims add such standard extras as upgraded upholstery, alloy wheels, 6 speakers, and satellite radio. Moving up to the premium-level R/T gets you leather seats, a performance-tuned suspension, remote engine start, and 9-speaker premium audio entertainment.
Noteworthy optional packages include a DVD/Blu-ray Entertainment System with 3 rear screens, including one dedicated to the third row. There’s also a Driver Convenience group for the SXT Plus and R/T that offers heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and sunshades over the third-row power windows. The R/T can be purchased with a Safety Sphere group that boasts rain-sensing wipers, rear parking sensors, a blind-spot monitor, and rear cross-traffic alerts.
Aside from mandated safety features like airbags, standard safety equipment aboard all Grand Caravan iterations includes daytime running lights, a post-collision safety system, and rear height-adjustable headrests. Higher trims also offer standard front fog/driving lights and dusk-sensing headlights, with the R/T tossing in a remote antitheft alarm. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives this Dodge minivan 4 out of 5 stars for overall crashworthiness, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awards the current Grand Caravan its best score of Good on all tests other than the small-overlap frontal-offset category, where the minivan scores a lowest-possible Poor.
Look for the 2017 Grand Caravan to go up against the bestselling Honda Odyssey, as well as the Toyota Sienna and Kia Sedona.
Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.
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