In last year's major minivan makeover, Chrysler cut the number of powertrains in the Dodge Grand Caravan from two to one, and retuned its handling for a slightly better road feel. It's still not the equal of the Odyssey in that regard, but the Caravan acquits itself as well as you might demand from any minivan.
Every Grand Caravan gets its power from a 283-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6. The "Pentastar" six is now found in most Chrysler products, and it's a well-conceived powerplant, with good midrange responsiveness and torque. It's not quite as smooth as other big-six minivans, but it produces 86 more horsepower than Chrysler's old 3.8-liter V-6, and 30 hp more than the briefly available 4.0-liter Caravan. It feels substantial, and doesn't have some of the boomy echo that the same pieces produce in other Chrysler products. Straight-line acceleration is brisk, and fuel economy is still above the class average, at 17/25 mpg, thanks to a relatively smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission.
Handling is nothing remarkable, but for a nearly 300-horsepower vehicle, there's very little scrambling going on through the Caravan's front wheels. (All-wheel drive? It's been gone from the lineup since 2008.) Ride quality is almost cushy compared to rival vans, but even with retuned shocks, the Caravan bounds more than it needs to over strings of low bumps. It's more content to smother, which makes its handling a neat metaphor for the kind of parenting minivans are built to support.