Though its former Swivel 'N Go picnic-table option is gone--the table's no longer an option, at least--the Dodge Grand Caravan has one of the most inventive seating systems in all of minivan-dom, putting the emphasis on carrying up to eight passengers of all ages.
Utility is the key to the Grand Caravan and its three rows of seating, and adults will feel comfortable in the front five seats. In all models, the front bucket seats have ample space in every direction, though the cushions themselves could use a little more firmness in the place of their slightly spongy texture.
There's also excellent space in the second row of seats. On the base model, it's a bench with in-floor storage bins, but on all other versions, the second row of seats are fold-away units that tuck into those bins when not needed, leaving a flat load floor. It's a feature no other van offers, other than the Chrysler Town & Country, now that the Nissan Quest has abandoned its nearly identical arrangement. On these "Stow 'N Go" seats, the cushions are a little flatter than in some other vans, but these seats fold completely into the floor at the flip of a lever. When they're in use, their storage spaces are useful as covered, secure stowage for a vast amount of cargo, even before you get further back in the cabin.
The Grand Caravan's third-row seat is still useful for smaller adults, but it's primarily geared for kids. It also folds out of sight when needed--by power, if you pay for that option. We do lament the Swivel 'N Go back seats and the pop-up picnic table they brought with them, but the space and excellent use of it remains intact.
We'd also opt for the movable, and removable, "super console" that's on the Dodge's options list. It adds many cubic inches of covered space between the seats--it's a virtual Tupperware for music players, spare change, even the odd French fry gone rogue. On a meta level, it's a box within a box. What's not to love about that?