Ace of Base: 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan SE

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
ace of base 2017 dodge grand caravan se

Over the last few years, FCA’s long-term product plans have been, um, fluid. A great amount of “will they or won’t they” speculation is directed to the venerable Grand Caravan. The nameplate which invented a segment is a perpetual resident of the proverbial chopping block. Yet, sales remain strong.

Why? Well, the central tenet to this Ace of Base series is value, and a base model Grand Caravan has it in spades. Dodge minivans might be as cool as a dad in socks and sandals, but this SE brings a lot of value to the school zone.

Undoubtedly, FCA keeps the Grand(daddy) Caravan around simply because it sells exceptionally well and has likely paid for its tooling several times over. Last calendar year, the grandest of caravans outsold the Pacifica nearly two-to-one — compare the tallies of 127,678 to 62,366 sales. The spread in Canada is even more lopsided: that same year, FCA sold 20 GCs for every Pacifica that left the showroom – 51,513 and 2,560 units respectively.

Studying the specs, ’tis easy to explain the Grand Caravan’s popularity. It’s a cheap way to get into a 3.6-liter Pentastar-powered vehicle. Shoehorned into everything from Chargers to Wranglers, this is an engine which somehow manages to marry decent fuel economy, low running costs, and nearly 300 horsepower. Want to endure enjoy a night’s camping? This powertrain allows the Grand Caravan to tow 3,600 lbs. There are plenty of hard-sided camper trailers in that weight class.

Seventeen-inch hoops on el-cheapo steel wheels aren’t the smallest tires in the world but the 225/65 size is easy to find at retailers and is often some of the cheapest 17-inch rubber available. Dodge generously offers up no-charge shades of Octane Red and the alarmingly named Contusion Blue instead of penalizing base model buyers with 50 shades of grey.

Tri-zone climate control allows sullen teens to set their own temperature in the rear compartment while parents enjoy their own meteorological spaces up front. Whatever mom and dad choose will be wrong anyway. The dashboard houses an infotainment unit which includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen, a backup camera, and a 28GB hard drive big enough for at least 5,000 of Raffi’s best MP3s.

A couple of 12-volt outlets pepper the interior and, as a father who’s cleaned up errant eggs after a drive home from the supermarket, I can tell you that the Grand Caravan’s grocery bag hooks are sorely underappreciated. The steering wheel adjusts for reach and rake. It is not leather wrapped at this price but does feature audio controls.

Dodge’s build & price tool displays an MSRP of $25,995, but that figure can accurately be labelled as FAKE NEWS. Many dealers are pushing brand-new 2017 Grand Caravan SE models for less than $18,000. While it is true many of these advertised specials stack rebates on top of each other like Dagwood stacking sandwich ingredients, it would surprise the tar out of me if the average transaction price of a base Grand Caravan is over $20,000.

One particular dealer in Michigan has Grand Caravan SEs advertised for $17,343. To put that in perspective, the new-for-1991 Caravan, which pioneered several minivan firsts such as integrated child safety seats and a driver’s side airbag, would have had to sell for a mere $9,650 to equal the 2017’s value proposition when adjusted for inflation. A well-equipped 1991 Caravan SE, powered by a 3.3-liter V6 and taking 10.8 seconds to reach 60 mph, stickered for $18,437.

Viewed through that lens, this machine is a remarkable value. So long as the Grand Caravan escapes the executioner’s guillotine, it earns its spot on our Ace of Base list.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in American dollars absent of freight and available rebates – extensive rebates, in this case. As always, your dealer may sell for less … much less.

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2 of 33 comments
  • Pbx Pbx on Aug 30, 2017

    Currently at a Victoria Dodge dealership for a 2017 GC SXT: Dealer MSRP Price $42,060 Dealer Price $23,716 You wonn't have to work too hard.

  • JDG1980 JDG1980 on Aug 30, 2017

    I may be wrong, but I think this is the cheapest new vehicle that can haul 4x8 sheet goods (barring the use of a roof rack, utility trailer, or other add-ons). You won't be getting a new half-ton pickup for under $20K unless you're a fleet buyer, and of course all the full-size SUVs are much more expensive than that.

  • YellowDuck Thank goodness neither one had their feet up on the dash....
  • Zerofoo I learned a long time ago to never buy a heavily modified vehicle. Far too many people lack the necessary mechanical engineering skills to know when they've screwed something up.
  • Zerofoo I was part of this industry during my college years. We built many, many cars for "street pharmacists" that sounded like this.Excessive car audio systems are kind of like 800 HP engines. Completely unnecessary, but a hell of a lot of fun.
  • DedBull In it to win it!
  • Wolfwagen IIRC I remember reading somewhere that the Porsche Cayenne was supposed to have a small gasoline-powered block heater. There was a loop in the cooling system that ran to the heater and when the temperature got to a certain point (0°C)the vehicle's control unit would activate the heater. I dont know if this was a concept or if it ever made it into production.