Dodge Caravan For Vanlife: 10 Reasons Why It’s the Best

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Considering the Dodge Caravan for Vanlife?

With stealthy looks, inexpensive upfront costs, & cheap conversion kits, the Dodge Caravan is a good option.

But how does it stack up against other popular Minivan models like the Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona, & Honda Odyssey?

In this post, we’ll find out.

Here’s everything you’ll learn:

10 Reasons Why Vanlifers Like the Dodge Caravan

The Dodge Caravan is cheap to maintain, inexpensive, & comfortable – but is it the best option for vanlife?

Here are 10 reasons why vanlifers like the Dodge Caravan:

  1. Inexpensive Used: Out of the Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, and Dodge Grand Caravan, the Grand Caravan is the cheapest to purchase (by a lot). You can find used Dodge Caravans for as little as $9,000.
  2. Great for “No-Build” Builds: Many Dodge Caravan owners opt for a “no-build” build. They remove or stow the seats, and put in a comfy mattress for an instant campervan–no tools needed.
  3. Very Stealthy: The Dodge Caravan looks like a regular passenger minivan, so no one will suspect you’re sleeping in it.
  4. Fits in Any Parking Space: Unlike larger vans the shorter wheelbase of the Caravan means it can easily fit into almost any parking spot.
  5. Stow ‘N’ Go Seats: The stow ‘n’ go seats are probably the Dodge Caravan’s best feature. The seats tuck fully away under the floor, so you can add a temporary or semi-permanent conversion build right on top, then pull the seats back up when you need them.
  6. Inexpensive Conversion Kits: A few companies including Roadloft offer Dodge Grand Caravan conversion kits that you can easily install yourself. These go for around $5,000.
  7. Powerful Engine: The Grand Caravan’s engine is robust enough to carry a bunch of passengers, or a heavy build.
  8. Great Handling: Owners say their Grand Caravan has excellent handling–great for windy back country roads.
  9. Cheap Maintenance Costs: Because it’s a Dodge, the Grand Caravan is cheaper to maintain compared to the Toyota Sienna, and Honda Odyssey.
  10. Comfortable Front Seats: The front seats of this van are super comfy. That’s a great feature for long road trips.

7 Reasons Why Vanlifers Dislike the Dodge Caravan

As with every vehicle, there are downsides to the Dodge Caravan.

Here are 7 reasons why vanlifers dislike the Dodge Caravan:

  1. No New Options Available: Dodge stopped manufacturing the Grand Caravan in 2020, so if you’re looking for a sparkly new minivan, take a look at the Odyssey or Sienna instead.
  2. Poor Acceleration: Owners say the Caravan can have trouble getting up to highway speeds fast enough.
  3. Doesn’t Come in AWD/4WD: The Dodge Caravan only comes in FWD, which means it may have trouble maneuvering in the snow, and on unpaved roads.
  4. May Require Repairs: Since most Caravans on the market are at least a few years old, they might require more repairs compared to a brand new van.
  5. Outdated Look: The Grand Caravan’s exterior hasn’t been updated in a while, so it’s not very fancy-looking on the outside.
  6. Bad Gas mileage: The Grand Caravan gets a combined 21 MPG, which is lower than the Odyssey, Sienna, and Sedona.
  7. May Not Last a Long Time: Grand Caravans with over 100,000 miles tend to have major issues. They don’t last as long compared to Odysseys and Siennas, which can last 200,000 miles in some cases.

 

6 Amazing Dodge Caravan Van Builds

With Stow ‘N’ Go Seats, stealthy looks, & great handling, the Dodge Caravan provides a good platform for designing a layout… but which is the best?

Here are 6 of the coolest Dodge Caravan ever:

 

Build #6: No-Build Dodge Caravan with Floor Bed and Storage

  • Highlights: This no-build Grand Caravan has everything you need for a quick weekend trip, or full-time vanlife–no tools required. On the floor is a large comfy bed. Owner Amanda has installed some carts for storage, DIY window coverings, and even a portable toilet.
  • Van: 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Owner: @amanda.yantos

 

Build #5: Ultra Unique Grand Caravan Build that Folds Away When Not in Use

  • Highlights: This smart minimalist build has sleeping room for two–one on the platform bed, and one on the floor under the platform bed. The van also has cooking space and a simple gravity-powered water system. When not in use, all of these elements fold away under the floor.
  • Van: 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Owner: @stink.pickles

 

Build #4: Grand Caravan with Outdoor Kitchen and Convertible Dinette

  • Highlights: This Dodge Caravan conversion kit from Roadloft features a large dinette area that folds down into bed. From the rear of the vehicle is a pull-out kitchen space with a sink, stove, and fridge. The conversion kit fits any Dodge Caravan from 2008 to 2020.
  • Van: Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Owner: roadloft.com

 

Build #3: Dodge Caravan Conversion Kit with Front Dinette and Rear Kitchen

  • Highlights: This smart Dodge Caravan conversion kit includes a front dinette that folds completely away into a large bed. The rear kitchen area is separated from the front with a short wall of cabinetry. The kitchen includes a large fridge, countertop space, and a sink.
  • Van: Dodge Caravan
  • Owner: freewaycamperkit.com

 

Build #2: Dodge Caravan with convertible Bed, Hanging Desk, and Indoor Kitchen

  • Highlights: This DIY Dodge Caravan build somehow packs it all in. It has a large bench seat, which slides down into a bed. The indoor kitchen has a sink, and room for a stove. The coolest feature, though, is the hanging desk, which is attached by rope to the ceiling of the van and sits right in front of the bench seat.
  • Van: 2004 Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Owner: @mybackpackerlifeblog

 

Build #1: Foldable Conversion Insert for Grand Caravan

Grand Caravan conversion with foldable insert camper kit

  • Highlights: This conversion kit from Tool Path Design is an insert, and can easily be installed and removed from the van. It comes with a platform for a full sized bed, and a kitchen in the rear. The kitchen has a simple gravity-powered sink, a fridge, and room for a camp stove.
  • Van: Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Owner: @toolpathdesign

 

Cost, Dimensions, & Fuel Economy

Now that you know a little more about the Dodge Caravan, let’s see how it stacks up against Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona, & Honda Odyssey.

 

Dodge Caravan Cost

Cost: Dodge Caravan vs Toyota Sienna vs Kia Sedona vs Honda Odyssey

ModelNewUsedPrice
Dodge CaravanN/A$9,000Check Price
Toyota Sienna$35,385$23,956Check Price
Kia SedonaN/A$22,998Check Price
Honda Odyssey$37,490$25,895Check Price

 

Dodge Caravan Dimensions

Dimensions: Dodge Caravan vs Toyota Sienna vs Kia Sedona vs Honda Odyssey

ModelInterior HeightInterior Length (cargo)Interior WidthExt Length
Dodge Caravan39.3 inches62 inches50 inches202.8 inches
Toyota Sienna37.5 inches60.5 inches50.5 inches204 inches
Kia Sedona39 inches62 inches52 inches203 inches
Honda Odyssey38 inches65 inches48 inches205.2 inches

 

Dodge Caravan Fuel Economy

Fuel Economy: Dodge Caravan vs Toyota Sienna vs Kia Sedona vs Honda Odyssey

ModelCityHighwayCombined
Dodge Caravan17 MPG25 MPG20 MPG
Toyota Sienna36 MPG36 MPG36 MPG
Kia Sedona18 MPG24 MPG21 MPG
Honda Odyssey19 MPG28 MPG22 MPG

 

Conclusion: Is the Dodge Caravan Right for you?

There are a lot of reasons to like the Dodge Caravan: It’s inexpensive, easy to drive, & stealthy – but it may not be for you.

Biggest factors:

  • Inexpensive to Purchase and Maintain
  • Stow ‘n’ Go Seats Make it Perfect for “No Build” Builds
  • Poor Gas Mileage
  • Not as Reliable as the Sienna or Odyssey

So should you get one?

Maybe! If you’re in the market for a minivan for vanlife and have a tight budget, the Dodge Caravan is a good option. With the cheapest upfront cost of any newer minivan, the Dodge offers similar value as the Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona, & Honda Odyssey for thousands less. However, if you can afford the Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey, they are more reliable.

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