2009 Dodge Grand Caravan Performance
This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.
Auto critics find that the Grand Caravan performs well, but are most satisfied with its SXT trim, especially when equipped with an optional 4.0-liter V6 engine. Other trims have a difficult time lugging its hefty curb weight, let alone a full cargo load.
Acceleration and Power
While the Grand Caravan's base-trim Cargo Van and SE feature a 3.3-liter V6 engine mated to a four-speed automatic transmission, the SXT comes equipped with a 3.8-liter V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. However, a 4.0-liter V6 is also optional for the SXT. According to the EPA, the Cargo Van and SE net a city/highway fuel economy of 17/24 mpg (11/16 mpg with E85). Meanwhile, the SXT achieves 16/23 mpg with the 3.8-liter engine and 19/27 mpg with the optional 4.0-liter.
Test drivers report that only the SXT provides enough power to scoot around town with a full load. Its six-speed transmission is also a major plus.
- "Both the 3.8 and 4.0-liter engines offer sufficient power for around town driving, with the 4.0 providing much needed extra boost for merging and highway passing. With both these V6s the transmission is quick to shift as needed, but can change gears harshly at low speed." -- Consumer Guide
- "The 3.3 has flex-fuel capability, meaning it can run on E85, but that's the only nice thing I can say about it -- its 175 horsepower is nowhere near enough for the 4,321 lb. Grand Caravan. ... The optional 251 hp 4.0 liter engine is the only one that maintains a safe margin of passing power with a load on board, but it's only available on the upper-level SXT." -- About.com
- "The new six-speed automatic transmission is a first in a minivan, and should provide both good acceleration and good gas mileage, though figures aren't yet available." -- Cars.com
Handling and Braking
Overall, test drivers report that the Grand Caravan is an adequate handler, but prefer the SXT for its stiffer suspension.
- "Ride and handling remind me of the outgoing Caravan. The ride was so soft that I expected the handling to be terrible, but when the straight roads turned curvy I was surprised at how well the Grand Caravan clung to the pavement. ... Grand Caravans with the 4.0 liter engine get stiffer suspension and steering systems, and while the steering isn't much better, the ride is noticeably different -- firmer, more buttoned down and much more car-like." -- About.com
- "Caravans with the 4.0-liter V6 include a sport suspension that is not available on other Caravan or Town & Country models. With the sport suspension, impacts are more readily felt and some body quiver is noticeable over broken surfaces." -- Consumer Guide