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Is the Caravan really that bad?

I’m looking for a car to carry 2 adults, 2 senior citizens, and a kid in a car seat – 3 rows and easy entry seems like a must, so SUVs seem out and minivans seem in.

Due to budget we’re looking used, trying to stay in the $10-15K range, which means we’re in the 2012-2016 and 60-100K range.

I’m trying to decide if I should focus only on Toyota/Honda or if Chrysler isn’t that bad?

I’ve heard some generic horror stories about unreliable Caravan’s, but is this justified or just an epigenetic bias against Chrysler minivans?

My gut says stick to Honda, we have a late model CRV and we’re happy with it. My last car, an 03 Civic, never needed a repair other than maintenance in the 60K miles I owned it.

I bet an older, higher mile Honda costs more than a newer/lower mile chrys for a reason

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Just like any used vehicle have a mechanic look at it and hope for the best . You don’t say how often you will need this vehicle .
But you might want to look at a new KIA Sedona van . Sure , it will be around 30000.00 for the lower trim but full warranty , better loan rates and will not have 100000.00 mikes on it with possible sketchy service in the past.

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I have owned five minivans from 1991 to the present: A 1990 Ford Aerostar, a 2000 Ford Windstar, a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander, a 2011 Toyota Sienna, and my present ride, a 2017 Sienna. IMHO, if you have driven one minivan, you’ve driven them all. The only minivan that had a major repair was the Ford Aerostar. It had to have a new engine, but fortunately was still under factory warranty. The 2011 Sienna had to have the water pump replaced at 90,000 miles-a $975 repair as the engine had to be raised. My son still has the 2006 Uplander he bought from us. It now has about 240,000 miles on the odometer with no major repairs. Consumer Reports indicated the Uplander had a below average repair record, but this hasn’t been our experience.
I have never been able to work with our local Chrysler dealer which is why I never owned a Chrysler or Dodge minivan. I did have a rental Dodge Caravan for a week. It was either a 2015 or 2016. I thought it was fine,. although it wasn’t my first choice. The rental agent at Enterprise asked me if a Dodge Caravan would be o.k. I said I would prefer a Duke Ellington Caravan. He shot back at my request and informed me that only a Sophisticated Lady was allowed to rent a Duke Ellington Caravan. The Dodge Caravan did transport me and my fellow musicians with their instruments around for a week.
If I needed a minivan and found a Dodge Caravan at the right price and a mechanic’s inspection gave it an o.k. I would buy it.


I’ve had no out of ordinary problems with the caravan and the Town and Country I currently drive. It now has 240,000 miles. My opinion only is that Toyota and Honda seem to be better built. But saying all that, anything can and does fail. All you can do is your best to make the right decision. If you don’t have the vehicle pre inspected you haven’t done your best.

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14 Dodge Grand Caravan 3.6 liter, brakes, tires and plugs and 1 faulty oil filter cooler assembly that a lot of 14’s had which was covered under the powertrain warranty . We are at just about 100000 miles now and nothing major so far . Been a pretty good car and we have taken it from upstate NY to Florida and back every year since 14 for vacation .

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Buying used, a Honda or Toyota will cost you a lot more. Some years of the Honda had a lot of transmission troubles. I had a couple of Mopar minivans just because their seating position fit me best and I also frequently tool the seats out and hauled plywood or drywall and the earlier Toyota were less than 4’ between the wheel wells.

My wife and I made an 8600 cross country trip in a Plymouth minivan that had 85000 miles, climbing every mountain and camping in every national park or forest service campsite we encountered.
Van ran fine the whole trip even at 12,600 ft elevation in Rocky Mountain Park or at 115 degrees crossing Nevada and Utah.

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I really appreciate all the hands on feedback here!

Sounds like Dodge isn’t always a disaster, and could be OK if the price is right and I have a mechanic give it the OK. There just seem to be so many of those in my market vs the Japanese brands, I suspect it’s a lot of off lease and maybe some fleet, so I feel like it’s easier to negotiate on them because there is inventory out there for sale.

This is going to be a second vehicle for us, so it’ll get less use vs our CRV which I commute in, but when we’re using it I need it to be reliable as I’ll have a baby and old folks in it, and will be ~200 mile trips to family visits.

When the Caravan first came out back in the mid 80s my insurance agent bought one right off the bat and put something like 300k miles on it over 15 years.

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Shoulda called your wife. She’s a sophisticated lady.


@jtsanders. Mrs. Triedaq prefers SUVs. The last time we rented a vehicle, the rental agent asked if a Dodge Journey would be o.k. I told him that I would prefer a Sentimental Journey. “Sorry” he replied. “It’s already been rented to Doris Day”.

My Sophisticated Lady rented one of those for a week.
It got terrible gas mileage and insurance was through the roof.
Figured out it made more financial sense to buy a ticket and Take the A Train.

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I can’t speak about the reliability of the more recent Caravans, but I’d like to own one or a Pacifica. However, I can tell you about my experience with our family Caravan.

There have been rumors and grumblings about reliability issues with Chrysler cars and vans, but I’ve owned and operated, let me count… eight, Chrysler vehicles and have never had an unreliable or problematic one and loved every one of them. To me, the Asian car reliability myth is still alive and well. Anyhow, back to our Caravan…

I prefer to buy used cars, but back in 1996 I must have gone nuts for a minute because I bought a new vehicle! It was a 96 Caravan. My 25 year-old daughter was a baby in a child seat when we picked it up. It has hauled our 2 kids to soccer games, gone on vacations every year, hauled building materials (including 4X8 sheets), an upright piano, a double door refrigerator, and pulled trailers, etcetera.

Now the trusty van is semi-retired in Florida, but is still a daily (almost every day) driver, hauling beach chairs, coolers, inflatable kayaks, bicycles, golf clubs, sometimes up to 7 passengers, you name it.

It is still as reliable as ever and still an easy, fun to drive vehicle. I will probably have to replace it some day, but who knows? And if I do, I be lost without a mini-van. I’d buy a Caravan or Pacifica. Keep your SUVS.

:palm_tree: :sunglasses::palm_tree:

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Owning a 2012 Odyssey and having lurked on chat boards about them for years, they have plenty of their own issues. Poorly implemented VCM, shuddering TC, Expensive motor mount issues, oil consumption problems that crop up around 100k…I would treat them the same as any used vehicle. There’s no guarantee just because it’s a Honda or Toyota. Maybe you have better chance at good outcome but don’t count on it…

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I am on my 4th Chryco mini van, Plym, Dodge, T&C, now a Dodge. Great service from all of them. Unless Fiat/Puegot really mess up I would buy another in the future. Older vans had undersized brakes so I had some warped rotors, but not outrageous. There is the TIMP (computer) problem for certain years, I have not had that problem.

As others have said have a mechanic check it out before you buy it. If you are willing to go up in price a bit check out Enterprise car sales, many to be had for about $20k.

full disclosure: I have a 99 Town&Country (3rd Gen, just shy of 200K miles) that still gets about 25 mpg on the highway

the question involved a 5th Gen Caravan, and an additional resource is this forum