Vehicle Comparison: 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan vs. Toyota Sienna
A Consumers Digest Best Buy, the Dodge Grand Caravan returns for 2011 greatly improved from just a year ago. Compared with highly regarded entries in the minivan class, like the 2011 Toyota Sienna, the newest Grand Caravan sports better performance, smarter technology and greater overall value.
Dodge bills the 2011 Grand Caravan as the lowest priced minivan in America; a lofty claim certainly, but one holds true, particularly when compared to the newest Toyota Sienna. The Grand Caravan Express (the entry package in Dodge’s Express, Mainstreet, Crew and R/T lineup) starts at just $23,995, while the latest Sienna enters the minivan fray at a heightened $25,060. The top model Grand Caravan R/T raises the starting MSRP to $30,695, but still pales in comparison to the Sienna’s inflated $39,300.
Where the 2011 Sienna is curvaceous and futuro-chic, the Grand Caravan, with its newly restyled front end, is bold and brawny. Attention to detail runs strong in the muscular and sophisticated Dodge, as do a number of versatile features like the powerful crossbar grille, halogen quad headlamps, heated exterior mirrors and available fog lamps, 17-inch wheels and power sliding doors. The newest Dodge also gets the available new class-exclusive Stow ‘n Place™ roof rack system, which tucks away into integrated channels on the vehicle’s roof when unused.
For 2011, the entire Grand Caravan lineup upgrades to a new 3.6-liter Pentastar® V6, which trumps the best Toyota has to offer with 283 hp and 260 lb/ft of torque (the Sienna’s smaller 3.5-liter tops out at 266 hp). With a surprisingly throaty growl, the all-new V6 is the most powerful standard engine in the class, and delivers spirited power through a six-speed automatic transmission. The Pentastar also grants the Grand Caravan up to 25 highway miles per gallon with Flex Fuel capability, which trumps the 24 highway miles per gallon and regular unleaded capability of the Sienna.
Versatility reigns inside the substantially upgraded interior of the newest Grand Caravan. Soft-touch materials (including improved cloth and available leather), a reworked gauge cluster and dash, smart seating and a wealth of class-exclusives give the newest Dodge its most attractive cabin to date. Unlike the Sienna, the Grand Caravan gets a Stow ‘n Go® second row, a pair of one-touch folding captain’s chairs that disappear beneath the floor when not needed (which, along with the folding third row unlocks nearly 144 cubic feet of usable cargo space). The Dodge also gets an available new Super Console, which spans the first and second rows, as well as available heated seats in the second row and an optional heated steering wheel, both class-exclusives.
Dodge owners enjoy small conveniences like adjustable pedals, full-size overhead and floor consoles and an available rechargeable LED flashlight (no such luck with the Sienna). The Grand Caravan also gets an optional nine-speaker premium audio system along with the versatile and innovative Uconnect system, which brings mainstream minivans well into the 21st century with optional voice-activated or touch screen control over the vehicle’s audio, navigation and Bluetooth communication systems. For good measure, the Grand Caravan even integrates an available 30GB hard drive for in-dash digital music storage, a class-leading feature the Sienna can’t match.
For safety, both vehicles get standard measures like electronic stability control, antilock brakes and traction control; systems designed to enhance control on slippery surfaces, tight turns and emergency maneuvers (notably, the Grand Caravan also sees an upgraded suspension, for even greater agility). For 2011, the newest Dodge adds the available Parksense® rear park assist system, the Parkview® rear back up camera, rain-sensing windshield wipers and a Blind Spot Monitoring System. Front, side and full-length side curtain airbags covering all three rows come standard.
Ultimately, it’s a question of value. The top-model 2011 Grand Caravan R/T, priced well below Toyota’s midlevel Sienna XLE, outperforms, out-innovates and simply outpaces the best Toyota has to offer. Why pay more for less?
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