We had been thinking that we needed a new car but hadn’t got past the stage of thinking that maybe we needed to start thinking about it some time soon. Maybe.
Then our car was stolen.
We were therefore forced into the world of car shopping against our wills and with no preparation and little time to waste.
However, Dodge, if you want to lend me a Charger or something for a couple of weeks.... ;-)
We quickly decided that, with three kids, if we were going to buy a brand new vehicle, it needed to have at least seven seats so that we had the option of taking a couple of their friends or cousins with us when we go places.
That meant buying either a minivan or an SUV.
My personal favorite of everything with seven seats that we looked at was the Ford Explorer. It was wonderful to drive, had lots of fancy gadgets and made you feel big and strong and secure.
The problem was, although it has seven seats, it is not really very easy to get into the back ones and for ease of passenger use, minivans just beat it hands-down.
So our choices were: Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona or Dodge Grand Caravan and for us, the Dodge won easily.
The Kia was the cheapest and was VERY well equipped but we had some concerns about how well it would hold its value.
The Toyota was great, but Toyota’s dashboard and the area around the front seats just seemed a little less than luxurious which, when spending $30,000 on a vehicle, was essential for us.
The Honda was better than the Toyota but somehow it still just lacked a little something inside. It just wasn’t quite enough for us.
Then there’s the Dodge Grand Caravan.
Comfortable, luxurious, smooth to drive, PACKED with technology and cool features and easier to park than anything I’ve ever driven. We bought the CREW model, which seemed the best equipped for the price.
The one thing that I struggle to remember is that it’s not a car, so it doesn’t quite handle like one
(Yes, I almost rolled it going too fast on the curving slip road from the I-5 to the I-14 the other week – yikes!)
So let’s get down to it.
- First off, it holds seven people fairly comfortably.
- When you don’t want to have all those people in the back, the Stow-n-Go seating simply folds into the floor to give you additional space.
- If you choose NOT to stow your seats in the floor, you have two wonderful under-floor storage compartments.
- The rear seat flips backward so when you go to the drive-in, you can sit on a comfortable seat in the back of the van, with the rear door open, watching the movie.
- Electric side and rear doors are great. Maybe they make me a little lazy, but I like being lazy sometimes!
- We have the Entertainment package option which gives us a 9″ rear DVD screen with wireless headphones. What’s more, when the kids are using the headphones, we can switch to using the radio in front and everyone’s happy!
- Touchscreen radio with voice control. Man, I could play with that thing all day! It’s awesome.
- Reversing camera, fog lamps, roof rack that stows for aerodynamics, gorgeous l.e.d. reading lights and green accent light inside, reclining rear seats, remote door opening, LOTS of cup holders, three-zone temperature control and more other bells and whistles than I can mention make Peter a very happy boy!
- Handling is OK. The steering is a little heavy but the turning circle is awesome so you can get into almost any space that’s wide enough for you.
- The gas mileage we are getting is around 15.8 miles per gallon around town and 25.4 on the freeway. That’s OK… but I’m sure they really could do better.
- It’s a van. Oh, wait, we know that already.
- Back seat could be wider. With two kids in car seats, there’s not really room for a third person back there.
- Ummm…. that’s about it.
$30,000 is more than I ever imagined paying for a car but the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan certainly delivers a lot of bang for your bucks.
My family and I sat and brainstormed last night to try to come up with the negatives about it but apart from a little gripe about the gas mileage and the width of the third-row seat, we couldn’t find anything bad to say.
The DGC gets two thumbs up from all of us.
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