2007 Dodge Caravan Performance
The Caravan delivers what most consider a car-like ride, although some are concerned with braking ability. Most critics recommend upgrading to the 3.3-liter V6 engine and avoiding the noisy 2.4-liter four-cylinder that prompted Kelley Blue Book to say, "Unless you think a 1972 Pinto was really fast, we doubt you'll be happy with the 2.4-liter engine. Minivans hauling families need a V6, so spring for the SXT and avoid a serious case of buyer's remorse."
Engine performance may present a challenge for Caravan buyers on a budget. The four-cylinder is almost unanimously disparaged by reviewers, who recommend the more expensive V6 option. Consumer Guide reviewers claim that the four-cylinder "feels even more lethargic than our test model's 11.3-sec 0-60-mph time suggests."
Acceleration and Power
The Caravan SE comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 150 horsepower at 5,100 rpm, which most consider underpowered. Automobile Magazine paints the picture: "Woefully unsuited for minivan duty, the overworked four meets a four-speed automatic transmission and coughs out 150 horsepower and 165 lb-ft of torque." The 3.3-liter V6 engine is available as an upgrade on SE models. Edmunds echoes reviewers' near-unanimous recommendation that buyers avoid the four-cylinder: "While the four-cylinder base engine provides adequate power for daily errands and commuting, it can get buzzy and loud at higher speeds. We recommend upgrading to the V6, which is superior when hauling people or cargo at speed."
The Caravan SXT comes standard with a 3.3-liter V6 engine that most find capable for the Caravan's workhorse hauling tasks. The V6 produces 170 horsepower at 5,000 rpm. Kelley Blue Book finds, "The SXT's more potent 3.3-liter V6 offers a much better choice. Though somewhat raucous under full throttle, the V6's pick-up is good as long as you are not loaded down with passengers and gear." Similarly, Automotive.com reports, "Models equipped with the 3.3-liter V6, have enough power to climb hills without breathing hard, and merging onto the freeway doesn't give you visions of your life insurance salesman."
Both the base four-cylinder and the V6 get an EPA rated 17 miles per gallon (city) and 24 miles per gallon (highway). The Caravan's fuel economy is right there with the rest of the minivan pack -- neither outstanding nor terrible.
Handling and Braking
Most test drivers report a generally "car-like" ride, which Kelley Blue Book calls "exceptionally smooth." The Caravan glides over most road bumps with little discomfort for passengers. According to Car and Driver, Dodge "scored well on that point -- ride quality is close to Toyota supple -- but the Chrysler is a floaty boat on the interstate, particularly on windy days."
The standard-length Caravan drives like a car in part because it's about the same size as a typical car. In fact, the Caravan is a full 10 inches shorter than the full-size Dodge Charger sedan and even a hair shorter than the mid-size Dodge Avenger sedan. Edmunds points out another benefit of the shorter-than-average wheelbase: The Caravan is "among the easiest vans to maneuver and park."
While few would recommend taking a Caravan out on a Formula 1 track, most test drivers report acceptable steering and handling. Consumer Guide experienced "fine around-town maneuverability and steering feel" and Automobile Magazine reports that, "Steering is accurate, albeit typically overboosted, and body control, while hardly sporty, is at least predictable."
Next to the base four-cylinder engine, the Caravan's braking is its most disliked performance feature. Edmunds calls the brakes "weak" when compared the Mazda5 and Kia Sedona, and Consumer Guide warns of "noticeable nosedive in sudden stops."