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2014 Minivan Comparison Test

Still the Champions of Practicality

 |  May 01 2014, 2:02 PM

3rd Place – 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT

2014-Dodge-Grand-Caravan

The Grand Caravan is the top-selling minivan in America and with a starting price a hair over $21,000, it’s easy to see why. Packed full of value, the Grand Caravan SXT had the most options out of any van in this test despite an as-tested price of just $31,905. That is only $1,200 more than the stripped out Odyssey and much cheaper than the Toyota Sienna.

So why didn’t it win? Part of the reason has to do with the Grand Caravan’s biggest claim to fame: its “stow-and-go” seats. Both second and third row seats can flip right into the floor to offer especially versatile cargo space. With the other two vans, the middle seats have to be taken out by hand and stored somewhere else.  Need to take a van full of cargo one way, and six passengers back the other way? That’s a “no-can-do” with the other two…2014-minivan-comparison-interior-3.jpg

SEE ALSO: 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan R/T Review

So what’s the issue? Well, the stow-and-go system sacrifices seat comfort. In order to be so compact, they have the thinnest, most uncomfortable seatback and cushion of the three. There’s also reduced functionality in other ways, like less forward and aft sliding range. And if you’ve got a baby seat installed, there’s no way to access the third row except to climb through the middle.

Feature Packed and Dull

The interior of the Grand Caravan scored the worst in the comparison with the cheapest fit-and-finish and least appealing design. However, as tested, it does offer the most features like powered third row windows, navigation, a rear DVD player and a remote starter. The exterior is equally anonymous looking even with the “Blacktop” appearance package.

The Dodge was the most powerful vehicle here, packing 283 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque from a 3.6-liter V6. But even with a 16-hp advantage, it doesn’t feel any more powerful than the Sienna. It is also the thirstiest with official fuel economy ratings pegged at 17 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway. During our mostly city-based test course we were able to match the EPA rating with an average of 17 MPG.

Ride comfort is acceptable in the Grand Caravan and it does a good job isolating passengers from road noise, but finding a comfortable position in the driver’s seat can be tricky.

We like the large center screen while using the rearview camera, but the rearview camera is positioned so that it can be difficult to see.  At that price, Dodge includes manually adjusted three-zone climate control, so you need to fiddle with several knobs to adjust the cabin temperature.

The Verdict:

The Grand Caravan truly is the most flexible of the vans tested here, but not the most comfortable or efficient. If hauling stuff is as important as hauling people, this is your van. Otherwise, the other two are probably a better fit.

Fast Facts:2014-minivan-comparison-exterior-12.jpg

  1. PRICE AS TESTED: $31,905
  2. ENGINE:  3.6-liter V6 283 hp, 260 lb-ft
  3. TRANSMISSION:  Six-Speed Automatic
  4. OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 17.0 MPG
  5. CARGO CAPACITY (behind second row): 83.3 cu. Ft.

 

 

 

 

LOVE IT

  • Stow-n-Go Flexibility
  • Power
  • Value

 

 

 

 

LEAVE IT

  • Stow-n-Go seats are uncomfortable
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Undesirable styling

  • Shiratori1

    The rationale for leaving out the Quest in this comparison is nothing short of UNACCEPTABLE and only indicates that certain reviewers at autoguide are narcissistic “my opinions/ tastes are law” trolls.

  • ToyotaMom

    Glad to see the Sienna take the win, even if you had the SE model.

  • Sarah H

    Swagger Wagon!

  • Jamal

    The Odyssey is Number 1. You guys are just WRONG WRONG WRONG.

  • Rickers

    What’s the Quest? Does Hyundai make a minivan or something?

  • Ian

    I have a 2014 Odyssey and I LOVE IT. And my kids LOVE IT. If you’re shopping for a van, you absolutely MUST give it a try.

  • Teckler

    Your mad about the Quest missing from the test when it at sells a whopping 5% compared to what Chrysler minivans sell? Moot point in the segment indeed. Customers have clearly spoken; they don’t want the quest.
    When a mainstream vehicle like a minivan can’t outsell the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Chevrolet Corvette or discontinued Toyota FJ Cruiser, it doesn’t belong in a comparison test of front runners.
    Happy trolling!

  • Shiratori1

    There are so many things wrong and lol-worthy with your post that I’m not going to even bother with an actual response.

    What a troll.

  • Shiratori1

    Trolls will keep on trolling. I have seen a few on the road, so people are buying them.

  • guest

    nissan fag strikes again!

  • Alex_nma

    I own a ’12 Odyssey and have rented a Caravan and Sienna within the past year. The Sienna has the best drivetrain, it’s not even close. The power is good and the transmission always seems to be in the right gear. In this respect the Odyssey is the worst. The power is ok, but the transmission is adequate at best. It is often in the wrong gear and because there is no manual shift option you have to gun it get it to shift. The caravan’s engine and transmission are on par with the Odyssey but at least it offers manual shifting. The one thing the Odyssey is better at is fuel economy. It definitely got better real world mileage than Caravan and Sienna.

    Once inside the Odyssety is quite nice. The Sienna is at least as nice. The Caravan has really, really cheap hard plastic all over the place.

    Styling is very personal, but I find the Sienna the best looking of the bunch. The Odyssey’s styling is not much to my liking. The funny jog in the window line is dumb. The door handles look out of place with those chrome inserts. Unpainted rear shade and door mirrors cheapen the look a lot. Honda must have saved all of $10 by not painting those parts.

    From a carrying cargo perspective, the Caravan easily wins. Stow-N-Go is a STUPENDOUS idea. I don’t know when Honda and SIenna have not come up with their own version. You only need to try to remove the seats from the Odyssey once to see how dumb it is to have to carry a really heavy seat anytime you need to carry long cargo. Not to mention that you also have to figure out where to store it.

    My ideal minivan would have the body and powertrain from the Sienna with the driving dynamics of the Odysset and the stow-n-go from the caravan.

  • Alex_nma

    I almost rented a Quest recently. It SUCKED! First, I say almost rented because before I got out of the airport the van started to act up and make strange noises. I went around the airport and returned it. But, I can tell you that the seat was horrilble and for some stupid reason there is almost no cargo space behind the 3rd row. The deep well that the others all have was absent. That alone is a huge negative.

  • Dano

    OK so why wasn’t the Odyssey EX tested instead of the LX with the EX wheels added on. This makes no sense to me as the EX has MANY more amenities than either of the other two vans with pricing probably on par or below the Sienna.

  • ColumWood

    @disqus_OFnlrXQSo9:disqus This particular model was the only one Honda could source for us. An EX would have been ideal.. the LX really is quite low grade.

  • pbug56

    You may like your Ody less if and when the trannie prematurely self destructs. While the worst of this seems to be 1999 through 2008, I’ve seen reports of failures as the owner takes delivery of a new Ody and leaves the dealer lot.

  • pbug56

    Nice to see your trannie hasn’t failed yet.

  • pbug56

    We bought a 2002 EXL Navi sight unseen due to the huge rep for reliability that Ody’s had at the time – before reports started popping up of the trannies self destructing, before people paid through the nose for trannie rebuilds from Honda that would fail faster than a set of cheap tires (the Honda rebuilds don’t fix the cause and wear out very quickly).

  • Dan

    Then how can you judge the Sienna the winner. Haven’t you heard of comparing apples to apples. Besides the Sienna has only a 3 star crash rating compared to the 5 star Odyssey crash rating. This alone should not be considered for a growing family vehicle.

  • Kiya Lee

    oh, you. a new odyssey comes with a powertrain warranty (5 years), people who buy a new odyssey aren’t worrying about the transmission, go troll somewhere else.

  • Kiya Lee

    should’ve done more research before buying something sight unseen. I have had my ody for 5 years w/o an issue. people who did seem to have problems on odyssey forums solved any issue by installing transmission cooler, that comes with the towing package (maybe why I haven’t had any issues).

    its funny how you decided to come in here and troll up the place because you had a bad experience with a car 12 years ago (or if you bought it recently, even more fault on you for lack of research, the tranny issue has been known about since 2005).

  • Kiya Lee

    “lol-worthy”
    why is a 16 year old looking at minivan reviews anyways?

    trolls trolling trolls trolling trolls

  • Shiratori1

    Responses that have nothing to offer in terms of substance is trolling. But hey, whatever helps you sleep at night…….

  • Shiratori1

    Yeah, one anecdotal experience doesn’t hold a lot of weight to me (or anyone else who has at least half a brain).

  • Shiratori1

    Trolls will keep on trolling……..

  • Shiratori1

    Uh, huh. Sure.

  • Shiratori1

    A 12-year old strikes again! Who would have thought!

  • http://anotherlab.rajapet.net Chris Miller

    If you can’t get comparable trim levels, then you wait until you can get the right vehicles. Anything else is just sloppy work. This is the first review that I have read from your site and it will probably be the last if this is how you do one. You have to ask yourself, which is more important; doing the review now or doing it later with vehicles that were more or less comparable?

  • larsonjs

    Had 3. logged over 400,000 miles. Never a tranny problem. Are you trolling? Have you actually owned an Odyssey? I have had a 99, 2005 and now a 2013. My son bought my 05 and it now has approximately 220000 miles on it. I drove it about 3 months ago and it is as solid as the day I bought it.

  • larsonjs

    Why is it you can’t allow people to enjoy their vans? Did you mom fail to nurse you or something. You act like you’ve been weaned on a dill pickle.

  • pbug56

    I guess you never heard about the class action lawsuit on the 1999-2001 Ody trannies. And yes I have an 02 Ody, I have a Honda rebuilt trannie, gotten before I found out that these are rebuilt to only last 36k miles. Shortly after, I told my dealer I planned to add an external cooler and filter, and was advised it would void my warranty (even though they would protect the trannie from heat and debris). BTW, while still under the 100k warranty, I told the dealership that the trannie was running quite roughly, and was told – no code, no problems. Post warranty, codes showed up, thousands charged to ‘replace’ the trannie.

    BTW, Jasper and other firms do rebuilds of these trannies with modifications to fix the original defects, and much higher quality materials for the rebuild itself. Long warranties, unlike Honda.

  • Mike Schlee

    Safety ratings were taken into account with the scoring. The Sienna has a four star rating compared to the Odyssey’s five star rating.

  • Kiya Lee

    It would help if you knew what trolling actually was. protip: trolling is from fishing.

    Trolling is purposely saying something to get a response. Bringing up the Quest in a discussion about the Odyssey, Sienna, and Caravan is trolling, replying with “lolworthy” is trolling.

    again, why is a 16 year old on a article about minivans? Was that other guy right, that you’re upset nobody is talking about your precious nissan?

  • TK

    I can verify that my 02 odyssey had one transmission go out at 27k, and the second at 99k. In the middle they had the recall to add an oiler to the fifth gear, but that had nothing to due with the failures. Honda did nothing and lost me as a customer. We now have an 03 and 09 sienna.

  • tommco

    I disagree. Although I own a Toyota Sienna (and am very happy with it, by the way), I’d have to say that mere market share shouldn’t dictate whether a vehicle is included in a review or not. It’s not as if Nissan is some obscure brand or is somehow an unworthy competitor, so I think it would serve the auto-buying public well if the Quest was included in the review.

  • Bill Johnston

    Maybe Honda will open their peanut butter filled ears about the lack of engine power now that the anemic 248 HP V-6 has been publicly exposed as being weak. Addition of the 6th gear as standard in the tranny only made it worse. Engine badly needs a torque and horsepower boost especially if the Ody is used in hill country. This vehicle is such a cash-cow for Honda that they haven’t paid attention to this deficit.

  • Shiratori90

    I’m a Honda/Subaru guy, so yeah, the joke is on you.

    Trolls keep on trolling…….

  • Kiya Lee

    what happened to your nissan in the past 3 months?

  • Shiratori90

    Yeah, no. I don’t own a Nissan, so your sad, weak sauce joke is on you.

    Trolls will keep on trolling…………