Minivan; Built in USA, Canada
  • 3-door van
  • 3-door van
  • transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,400 – $3,800*


1996 Dodge Grand Caravan ES


1996 Dodge Grand Caravan ES


1996 Dodge Grand Caravan


1996 Dodge Caravan interior


1997 Dodge Grand Caravan SE

Pros:
  • Acceleration (3.8-liter)
  • Antilock brakes
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Ride
Cons:
  • Fuel economy
  • Road noise
  • Wind noise

This assessment is simple: Caravans and their Chrysler-Plymouth cousins rank at the head of their class, just as their predecessors did.

Overview

Dodge and Plymouth launched totally redesigned minivans in spring of 1995 as early ’96 models, again named Caravan and Voyager, respectively. More aerodynamic in shape, Caravans could be equipped with a sliding door on the driver’s side–a minivan “first.” Center and rear seats have cleverly innovative, built-in “Easy Out” rollers to ease their removal. Minivans came in standard (113.3-inch) Caravan and long (119.3-inch) wheelbase Grand Caravan body styles, each holding up to seven occupants. Dodges offered four price levels: base, SE, LE, and ES. Chrysler’s Town & Country is the plush cousin, though also similar in structure. Dual airbags and antilock braking were standard at first, but ABS shrunk to an option on base minivans during the 1996 model year. All models were front-wheel drive during their first season. Base engine was a new 150-horsepower, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with dual overhead cams. Three V6s were available: 3.0-, 3.3-, or 3.8-liter. The smaller two came with a 3-speed automatic transmission; the larger two, with 4-speed automatic.

Yearly Updates

1997 Caravan
All-wheel-drive models arrived in 1997, optional only on Grand Caravans above base-level. AWD Caravans got 4-wheel disc brakes, while front-drive models kept the front-disc/rear-drum setup. Low-speed traction control became available for LE models.
1998 Caravan
For ’98 the 3.0-liter V6 is mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission, and the 3.8-liter V6 gets a 14 horsepower boost to 180. Other changes include seatback hooks for plastic grocery bags and automatic headlights on ES models.
1999 Caravan
Caravan saw a host of revisions for ’99. They included a cargo net between the front seats and an available “auto-manual” Autostick transmission with 17-inch wheels and tires. Child safety seats now had to be ordered with the second-row captain’s chairs, and the new Sport package for the ES featured a revised grille, fog lamps, and a body-color rear spoiler.
2000 Caravan
A new Sport model joined the lineup, which replaced an SE AWD model and came only with the extended-length Grand Caravan body. All-wheel drive was standard on the Sport model, which contained the 3.8-liter V6, load-leveling suspension, fog lights, and a rear spoiler. Base models gained a standard cassette player and air conditioning. Dealers could install a new Rear Seat Video entertainment system, with VCR and 6.4-inch display screen.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive

Dodge buyers had a choice of four engines: a 150-horsepower 4-cylinder, or any of three V6 powerplants. A 3-speed automatic transmission went into Caravans with the 4-cylinder or the smallest V6, but others got 4-speed overdrive automatic. All-wheel drive became available for 1997, but only in upper Grand Caravan models. V6s gained horsepower in 2001.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/148
Engine HP 150
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 167
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
3-speed automatic

20/26

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/181
Engine HP 150
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 176
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
3-speed automatic
4-speed automatic
19/25
18/26
ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.3/201
Engine HP 158
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 203
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

18/24

19.2

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.8/230
Engine HP 166
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 227
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

17/24

17.7

Road Test

These highly impressive second-generation Caravans are a clear step ahead of the hugely popular 1984-95 minivans. Among other bonuses, you get more space in all seating positions. Design features included a lower dashboard and larger windows for improved visibility, and a 1.4-inch lower step-in height for easier entry and exit. A driver-side sliding door also helps on that latter score. The new dashboard has a more user-friendly layout, putting most controls within easy reach of the driver. Illuminated markers for the power window switches and other controls make them easier to find in the dark.

The innovative removable seats are handy, but each seat weighs about 90 pounds, so it might take two people to lift one in and out. You also get an assortment of storage bins, nooks, and crannies for stashing miscellaneous items. Performance with the 3.3-liter engine is adequate in daily driving, but the 3.8-liter is better yet, giving the Caravan enough power to pass and merge easily. Gas mileage should run 15-17 mpg in the city, and just above 20 on the highway. The 4-cylinder engine has nearly as much power as the 3.0-liter V6, but both are taxed by a full load of passengers.

Quieter and even more carlike than before, these minivans handle more like large sedans than vans, rolling along with a stable, comfortable attitude. Caravans hold the road well and lean moderately in tight turns. Road and wind noise grow obtrusive at higher speeds, but otherwise these minivans are great for long-distance cruising.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1996 Dodge Grand Caravan ES 3.3-liter

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 4
40%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 4
40%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
60%
Cargo Room - 9
90%

Other

Value - 8
80%

Total: 59

Specifications

3-door van
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
113.3 186.3 75.6 68.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
146.2 20.0 7
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.8 38.1 41.2 35.8
3-door van
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
119.3 199.6 75.6 68.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
172.3 20.0 7
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.8 38.5 41.2 39.8
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Caravan 3-door van

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 70
Injury 74
Theft 61

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: Transmission may shudder when accelerating from a stop, thump when coasting down to a stop, or slip when shifting. (1996)
Blower motor
Description: Blower motors make a whine in low and second speed. (1996)
Blower motor
Description: Blower motor quits working and a new resistor and wiring repair kit is required. (1996-97)
Brakes
Description: The antilock brakes may activate at speeds under 10 mph due to one or more faulty wheel speed sensors. (1996)
Dashboard lights
Description: The instrument cluster, minitrip computer, and/or compass may show incorrect information or go completely blank due to a bad relay for the heated backlight. (1997)
Doors
Description: Sliding door and/or liftgate power locks fail to lock or unlock both manually or electrically. (1996)
Engine temperature
Description: Reprogramming the powertrain control module might correct overheating. (1997-98)
Radiator
Description: The radiator fan may run after the key is turned off, or may not run, leading to overheating because the fan relay attaching screws break and the relay overheats. (1996-97)
Rough idle
Description: Rough running in 3.3-liter and 3.8-liter V6 might be due to broken pedestals in the cylinder heads. (1996)
Rough idle
Description: Vehicles equipped with a 3.3-liter or 3.8-liter V6 may lose power and/or buck and miss. Problem can be fixed by disconnecting the knock sensor. (1996-97)
Vehicle noise
Description: A thud or thump, which comes from the rear when accelerating or stopping, is caused by fuel sloshing in the tank. A foam pad and strap kit does not always fix the problem. (1996-97)
Wipers
Description: Windshield wipers come on by themselves or fail to stop when the switch is turned off due to a problem with the multifunction switch. (1996)

Recall History

1996
Description: Fuel-tank rollover valve can allow fuel to pass into vapor canister, resulting in potential for leakage and fire.
1996
Description: Static charge could cause spark as tank is being filled; vapors could ignite.
1996
Description: On a few minivans, bolts holding integrated child seat modules to seat frame can break.
1996
Description: On certain minivans, fuel can leak from tank at interface of fuel pump module attachment.
1996 w/bench seats, built at Windsor plant (“R” in 11th position of VIN)
Description: Rear-seat bolts can fracture; in an accident, seat could break away.
1996-97 w/integrated child seats
Description: Shoulder-harness restraint on child seat can be difficult to release when latch plate becomes contaminated.
1996-98
Description: The clockspring may have been wound incorrectly, resulting in illumination of airbag warning light and possibly causing the driver’s side airbag to not function. Dealer will inspect and replace affected parts on vehicles with 70,000 miles or less.
1997
Description: Certain master-cylinder seals will not seal adequately, allowing hydraulic fluid to be drawn into power-assist vacuum reservoir; brake-warning lamp will then illuminate.
1997
Description: Wheels on small number of minivans were damaged by equipment used for mounting.
1997 w/Goodyear tires and steel wheels
Description: Tires were damaged, and may lose pressure suddenly.
1997
Description: The D-pillar mastic sound-barrier patch could loosen and drop into the seatbelt assembly, rendering it inoperative.
1998 w/integrated child seats
Description: Shoulder-harness webbing was incorrectly routed around reinforcement bar; can fail to restrain child properly.
1998-00
Description: Driver’s airbag on some minivans may become disabled due to a failed clockspring in the steering-wheel hub; airbag warning lamp should illuminate.
1999
Description: The front-seatbelt retractor does not comply with the requirements of the standard. If the retractor does not work properly, it will not adequately protect occupants in the event of a crash.
2000 w/3.3-liter & 3.8-liter engines
Description: Seals on fuel rails can degrade, allowing an underhood fuel leak, which would increase likelihood of vehicle fire.
2000 Caravan and Grand Caravan
Description: Certain vehicles are missing certification labels about maximum tire load capacity. Dealers will distribute labels.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.