we rented a 2002 dodge grand caravan sport about a month ago during the labor day weekend. dark blue exterior and dark blue interior, rear air, the usual power windows and doors, etc. 5 passengers and stuff for the weekend.
my parents own a '97 dodge caravan so it was a chance to compare the vans. i agree somewhat with "maw1982" post #1590. the ride & feel of both vans are very similar...except of course the difference in length.
the rental van had bigger front seats but the middle seats seemed smaller and not as comfortable as the previous generation. the 3.3l engine at 180h.p. was ok but i think the 3.8l at 215 h.p. is better for the grand caravan.
i did not like the performance of the transmission though. climbing up the grapevine on hwy 5, it couldn't find gears properly. i remember the traffic was somewhat heavy going up the mountain. when i tried to accelerate 40-45 mph, the van shifted to what i think was 3rd gear but the van wasn't gaining any speed. when i pressed the accelerator harder, the tranny went to 2nd gear (engine screaming of course) and we finally started gaining speed again. it's as if i had no 3rd gear...or at least a useless 3rd gear.
was there something wrong with the tranny? or is it just the way the tranny is made/programmed?
anyway, i wouldn't buy another dodge caravan either. it drives too much like the previous generation.
My wife and I are proud owners of a '02 Caravan 2.4 4-cyl/4A with 8000 miles. It is my 3rd Chrysler and our first van. I have to admit that the build quality of this $16,000 van (what we paid) seems better than my '01 300M in many areas including road noise. The van is simply very quiet, tires most likely a culprit here. My first and only problem with our van is with the A/C "freezing up." After about 30 minutes of driving, the air flow out of the vents seems diminished and the air just isnt quite as cold. We can turn the heat on for a minute, and the cool breeze comes back. My 5-star said it was due to excessive use of the recirc, and that this was a Chrysler problem, but my 300M never gives me such trouble. Any ideas...
#1714 of 2390 6-month report 02 Caravan Sport, New Orleans 6000 miles
Oct 13, 2002 (7:47 pm)
Well, I'm happy to report that we've made it to the six month mark with no appreciable problems. Its been running great and has given us no unpleasant surprises. Here's my little report.
We shopped the greater New Orleans area hitting all of the Dodge dealerships in town (once we had decided on a caravan. It was a near run thing with the Mazda MPV, but, my wife was turned off by the stiff ride). It soon became obvious that all of the dodge dealerships (and I mean all of them) had decided that they wanted lots of markup on these guys. All the minivans (including the eCs) had second window stickers detailing dealer "paint treatments", undercoating, environmental fees, etc. that were not part of the DC window sticker. You'd start trying to deal and they would begin by throwing this $1000 plus second sticker on top of the MSRP and then working very little from there.
We eventually realized that we needed to get out of the city. We went up to Salsbury Dodge City in Baton Rouge and, armed with a printout of the two inventory items that we were interested in (which we got from the dodge website) and our knowledge of what the TMV and invoice pricing of those vehicles were, we were ready to deal. They first offer price was actually where we wanted to be, but, they wanted to get their money on the backend through low balling my trade-in and eating us alive in the loan agreement. After getting up and walking to the door in the lending officer's room twice, with the manager on hand, we worked a deal agreeable to all sides. Those hefty rebates helped, giving us a substantial downpayment when coupled with the trade and a little cash(on paper at least).
Power: The 3.3L v-6 is no race-car engine. It will not make the van feel light or even press you into the seat very firmly. That being said, I have to admit that the engine has performed admirably. It always has sufficient power for our needs, and, it did a great job of toting around 5 grown (and a little overweight) adults, one baby, a weekend worth of luggage and an outlet mall worth of shopping. You could tell that the van was very heavy and it did require a lot of pedal to get moving from stop lights and to climb bridges, but, there was always more power available with normal driving and the engine never seemed overly taxed or noisey.
Having test driven the 4 cyl, I can say that it felt about as out of place in this van as it does in the base model Dakota. It just doesn't have the torque and it sounds like you are abusing it every time you need to take off from a stop light with more than two people in the van.
Economy: The van is still not up to its sticker rating for economy. City mileage is around 13.5 to 14. Highway is much better with a completely loaded van cruising at 78 Mph on flat land with a readout of 20.2 Mpg and 20Mpg at the pump. We have achieved 22mpg at slower speeds and lighter loads.
Fit and finish: We have no major fit and finish complaints. There are some spots on the edges of the doors that are starting to rust a bit, perhaps these were incompletely covered with paint at the factory. They will be brought to the dealers attention at the second oil change. We've had a couple of rubber sliding door bumpers fall off, but, they are easy to put back on and a little glue keeps them there. The paint is eager to chip and you can already see evidence of finger-nail scrapes under the door handles. The front brakes generate lots of brake dust and require lots of cleaning. Still no unusual rattles or squeaks. The van is still amazingly quiet and the tranny is a smooth shifter.
General: Given the opportunity to go back and do everything again, we would probably get a grand caravan sport to get better AC for the back seats and more room in the third row when carrying luggage. The regular caravan really needs some a/c ducts that empty into the main cabin behind the front seats. The second row seats (we have the captain's chairs) should be able to slide for and aft as well. The rear bench needs to be a littl lighter so that one person can safely remove it unless they revise the rear suspension and make the seat fold flat into the floor. Personally, I would prefer a little more power from the v-6, but, that's just wishful thinking.
All in all, its been a good buy. I'll check back in in another 6 months.
Thanks for the report, Joel_in_nola, I bet your mileage will improve a bit more with a few thousand more miles on it, (unless you are a real leadfoot around town!). You may want to check your mileage the old fashioned way to make sure the computer readout is accurate.
SUVs, Vans and Aftermarket & Accessories Message Boards
I'm looking to trade-in my '99 GC ES on a leftover '02 GC ES. I went to look at the '03 Es models after seeing the commercial with the free video system offer. Although the '03 models now ofer a sunroof (about time DC you promised a sunroof in your minivans 7 years ago), They have deleted what I feel to be two keys features that made the GC ES unique from the others models:
17" rims and lower-profile tires
I found an '02 with desired options at a dealer about 200 miles from my home. I'm trying to deal over the phone to save trips (hopefully there will be only one). They said off the bat that i would get at least 2k below invoice of about 33100. How far should I haggle down. I'd really like the price without trade to be under 30k. On top of that, this is the only '02 ES with my desired options between Raleigh NC and Chery Hill NJ that is new and not a demo or manager's car.