2012 Dodge Grand Caravan Performance

#7 out of 8 in 2012 Minivans

$8,320 - $10,796

2012 Dodge Grand Caravan Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan was new.


Performance: 7.4

Reviewers say that the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan is a good performer and should work for most minivan buyers. However, a few also say that others in the class, like the Honda Odyssey, perform better.

  • "Quick and accurate steering and a firm structure give these vans a carlike feel. Still, the big box on wheels can feel clumsy." -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

All trims of the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan have a 3.6-liter V6 engine that makes 283 horsepower. Still, reviewers point out that other vans feel quicker and have better fuel economy, and that the Grand Caravan doesn’t feel as quick as its horsepower rating suggests. All Grand Caravan models have a six-speed automatic transmission. A few reviewers say that the transmission can be slow to downshift, which means there may be a slight delay when you step on the gas to accelerate in passing situations.

  • "It doesn't feel as energetic as the Odyssey's V-6, nor is it as fuel-efficient, but it's above-average for its class. And considering that class is minivans, you shouldn't exactly expect a NASCAR experience." -- Cars.com
  • "Grand Caravan doesn't feel quite as quick as its 283-horsepower rating would suggest. Rather, it provides adequate, very smooth power at all speeds. The transmission works well for the most part, but it can occasionally be reluctant to downshift when power is needed for highway passing and merging." -- Consumer Guide
  • "This is a great engine. But even though it makes the Grand Caravan feel brawny, it's not quite in the same league as Honda's 250-hp V6, which also uses cylinder deactivation to boost fuel economy. The Grand Caravan doesn't have this technology, but it does feature a new 'econ' button on the dashboard to change the transmission shift schedule in an attempt to improve fuel economy. We couldn't really tell any difference between driving with the button depressed or not. Chrysler told us that using the button should be good for an extra mile per gallon, but it seems like in real world driving, it would lead us to just press the gas pedal harder." -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

Overall, test drivers report that the Grand Caravan handles well for a minivan, with nicely weighted steering, strong brakes and a smooth ride on bumpy roads. Reviewers add that the Grand Caravan has a small turning radius that makes it quite maneuverable in small spaces like parking lots.

  • "Despite their overall size, these vans are quite tractable. Body lean in corners is fairly pronounced, as you might expect. An impressively tight turning radius aids in close-quarters maneuvering." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Stiffer suspension parts (added in 2011) and upgraded tires (Michelins now) are meant to remove squish from cornering. Some folks also will like the added stability in crosswinds. In addition, steering and brakes felt suitably direct, responsive." -- USA TODAY
  • "If there's anything untoward in the Grand Caravan's handling, it would be an occasional bout of torque steer, one of the downsides to routing all that power through the front wheels. But the Grand Caravan's body motions are well controlled while cornering, and despite its 4,500-pound curb weight, there's no crashing over bumps or feeling of top-heaviness. The steering is taut and responsive, and the Grand Caravan feels firmly planted at all times." -- Autoblog

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