The Dodge Caravan, which started this whole minivan movement back in 1984, continues to show off its versatility by not only coming in two different sizes (regular and Grand), but by offering each size in a variety of trims levels (including optional all-wheel-drive on the Grand Caravan). This year Dodge will be selling a 20th anniversary edition (no more teeny-bopper years for you, Dodge Caravan!) called the SXT that will have special goodies included.
Price for a 2004 Dodge Caravan in the US ranges from $21,795 to $24,850 while the Grand Caravan ranges from $23,470 to $33,945.
The Inside Story:
The outside styling of the Caravan remains fresh but once you step inside it shows some of its age. You can choose from second row captain's chair or a bench but the 2004 Dodge Caravan's third row doesn't fold flat. Because of the variety of trim levels, safety features change considerably from level to level. But we find it unacceptable that the lowest price Caravan doesn't include (even as an option) antilock brakes. Front airbags are standard for front seat occupants, however.
Under the Hood:
The regular Caravan offers two engines: a four-cylinder generating 150 horsepower while the 3.3 liter V-6 makes 180 horsepower. Both engines will return 18 city/24 highway. The Grand Caravan also offers two engines: the same 3.3 liter listed above and a 3.8 liter V-6 generating 215 horsepower. It should return 18 city/25 highway.
4-speed automatic transmission is standard across the entire Dodge Caravan line.
Bumper-to-bumper: 3 years/36,000 miles. Powertrain: 7 years/70,000 miles.
Should you Buy a 2004 Dodge Caravan?:
No. We would skip the 2004 Dodge Caravan and look at the models being sold by Toyota, Nissan and Honda. This probably won't be a long-term answer however, since the Caravan is getting a total makeover for 2005. We expect it to compare better with competition and be a better buy than the 2004 model lineup. Contrarian view: at the end of the year, the 2004 models might be at bargain prices allowing a great bang-for-buck ratio.