The 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan rides well in all forms and has surprising handling, but the 4.0-liter V-6 is the clear winner here. The sport-tuned suspension on SXT models and upgraded brakes throughout the model lineup will help improve overall performance.
Kelley Blue Book says that "for an additional $630 and no sacrifice in EPA fuel economy figures," you can get the more powerful 4.0-liter V-6, which serves “up 251 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque,” Motor Trend notes. CNet reports, “The EPA rates the Grand Caravan with the 4-liter V-6 at 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. We averaged around 17 mpg overall, with our mileage dipping well below 16 in the city.” Consumer Reports observes, “The 3.8- and 4.0-liter engines are a bit noisy and not very fuel efficient,” but Car and Driver calls this version of the 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan a “strong performer.”
Kelley Blue Book points out the midline 197-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 has much more ferocity, showing "no problem transporting the medium-size loads to which we subjected it." It comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, a first in the minivan class; Automedia says of the new gearbox, “it operates so smoothly that gear changes are barely noticed.” In driving this version, Autoblog finds nothing special about its power: “While it drove alright for a vehicle that weighs around 4,300 pounds, it's no tire-smoker, that's for sure,” they report.
Cars.com points out that the smaller 3.3-liter is only offered with a four-speed automatic, too. The gear selector itself “looks like a center-console shifter but is located high on the dashboard, to the right of the gauges,” they note, to make it easier for drivers to select gears manually. This engine/transmission combination is good for 24 mpg on the highway, not much more than the next-largest engine. It is flex-fuel compatible, though.
Autoblog calls the Dodge Grand Caravan a “smooth rider,” and Car and Driver notes, “brake-pedal feel is superb.” Automedia agrees: “Ride quality in a Dodge Grand Caravan SXT is outstanding, at least on smooth pavement.” They also observe that it has “more confident handling than before, with especially positive steering.”