Gas Mileage in a newer mini-van

We bought a 6-month old (2008) Dodge Grand Caravan SE 3 months ago. Research told me it should get 17 mpg, but we’re only getting 14. Help! Fluids are fine. Tire pressure on door says it should be 36, but on tires says 40. Would that affect mpg? Van had 1880 miles when purchased, now has 10,270.

Door rules, use 36, maybe 38. Make sure you measure it first thing in the morning with a high-quality dial gauge, before any driving. Driving habits and traffic have huge impact on your mileage.

Your mileage is just right if you have a flex fuel Caravan and use E85. It is low for a gasoline version. What transmission is it - 4-spd or 6-spd? The EPA estimate is 17 MPG for the 4-spd and 16-MPG for the 6-spd. But that’s for the EPA city circuit. You could certainly get worse mileage if you do a lot of stop-and-go driving.

The tires show the maximum pressure. The door label shows the recommended pressure. These are different concepts.

Those mini vans haven’t really been mini for years. They morphed into bloated maxi vans. While 14 mpg isn’t good, if you are driving mostly in town, have some hills to climb, and tend to start quickly and brake hard you’d be lucky to get 14.

It is all about the driver, the vehicle, and the area you are driving around in. Since you got the car new there is likely little wrong with the vehicle. It is a big, heavy, boxy, non-aero dynamic shaped vehicle.

It can also depnd on how you drive and how much you carry.

Plus, how the mpg is calculated.

I have a 2000 Caravan, and the mileage is not great. Interestingly - when I have it really loaded up with heavy things I get better mileage - probably because it then sits lower to the road so there is less wind resistance? Or maybe I drive more slowly and evenly with a heavy load on. Many car dealers are now coming out with wagons again, which is great if you have to haul lots of kids but don’t want to spend too much on gas. The caravan definitely gets better highway mileage, which is mainly what I bought it for (drove from coast to coast last summer).

In addition to the factors already stated, your fuel economy will vary based on:

  1. your driving style.
  2. your altitude.
  3. the ambient temperature.

So don’t worry too much about a few miles per gallon. The “17 MPG” figure is an average. Some will get more and some will get less. If nobody got less than 17 MPG, the average would be higher and you would still be getting less than the average.

How are you measuring the 14 MPG?