I’m looking for a base minivan from around 2012 for around $ 15,000. I’m not a fan of the look or price of the newer Honda Odyssey. A Dodge Grand Caravan sounds like a good deal, but I also like the Nissan Quest. – Terry, Kelowna, BC
The Dodge Grand Caravan and Nissan Quest have more reliable – and more expensive – competitors. But both the Caravan and Quest offer good value, critics say.
The Caravan is the best seller in Canada, with nearly 47,000 sales in 2015. The Toyota Sienna is second with almost 14,000 sales and the Honda Odyssey is third with over 11,000 sales.
Chrysler’s Town & Country was essentially the identical twin of the Caravan, but it comes standard with more features – two power sliding doors, a rear view camera, and a power tailgate – for around $ 10,000 more. For 2017, it was replaced by the Pacifica MPV.
A base 2012 Toyota Sienna LE has an average used price of $ 20,675. A base 2012 Honda Odyssey costs $ 23,379.
Consumer Reports gives the Sienna excellent used car reliability expected for 2012. Honda’s is average.
2012 Dodge Grand Caravan SE
Fifth generation: 2008-present
Average price: $ 14,676 (Canadian Black Book)
Motor: 3.6-liter V6
Transmission / drive: six-speed automatic / front-wheel drive
Fuel economy (liters / 100 km): 13.7 city; 9.4 highway
In 1984 print ads, Canadian magician Doug Henning placed three tigers in the back of a Magic Wagon – Chrysler’s nickname for the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager.
Now Plymouth is long gone, but the Grand Caravan is not yet gone – and the Stow ‘N Go folding seats make it easy for these tigers to fit in.
Another magic trick? The base Grand Caravan is also cheaper – new and used – than the competition. “It doesn’t have any posh appeal, but a dime saved is a dime earned,” said Michael Vaughan, then Globe Drive contributor, in 2012. “The design has been cleaned up, the new interior is the best ever. and it even has a lot new engine.
Edmunds.com liked the versatile rear seat setups, welcoming cabin, and handling, but lamented that the ride wasn’t as smooth as its rivals, that there was limited driver legroom. and only seven seats compared to eight for the Odyssey and Sienna.
It’s also less reliable than the Odyssey and Sienna. From 2010 to 2013, Consumer Reports gave the Grand Caravan its worst rating for expected used car reliability. The complaints included abrupt gear changes and premature brake wear.
Consumer Reports also complained about fuel economy and complicated radio controls – although it appreciated the cargo flexibility and standard safety equipment.
There has been a major recall from Transport Canada – over 100,000 2010-14 Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country vans have been recalled to replace a rear vent window switch on the driver’s door that could catch fire if liquids were spilled there.
New, the base price was $ 27,995 before rebates.
2012 Nissan Quest S
Fourth generation: 2010-13
Average price: $ 16,137 (Canadian Black Book)
Motor: 3.5-liter V6
Transmission / drive: continuously variable transmission / front-wheel drive
Fuel economy (liters / 100 km): 12.6 city; 9.6 highway
Nissan eventually ditched its Quest after slow sales – it sold less than 700 in 2013. But critics thought it was worth it.
“I find it to be the most interesting to watch.” Vaughan said, comparing it with the competition. “I like this wraparound rear window in dark tinted glass; it hides the pillars of the roof. I love its bold 260 horsepower V6.
Vaughan wished the Quest had seats that sunk under the ground like Chrysler’s.
“If you drive a box on wheels, you want to be able to turn it into an empty box on wheels,” Vaughan said.
Jeremy Cato, Globe Drive contributor at the time, called the quest “very functional”.
“We’re talking about a giant box with endless headlights, cup holders and storage compartments, good seats and all kinds of high-tech features available,” Cato said. “Even the starting model has soft-touch materials all around and a nice mix of colors and textures.”
Consumer Reports liked the ride, powertrain, fuel economy, plush interior, and fold-flat seats. But he said the Quest wasn’t as nimble as it could be on the road.
Consumer Reports gave the 2012 Quest its worst rating for expected used car reliability.
Approximately 1,500 quests 2011 and ’12 were recalled to reprogram the engine control module after a problem with the fuel pump control program could cause the engine to stall when driving at low speed downhill with less 1/4 of the fuel tank.
New, the Basic Quest started at $ 29,998 before discounts.