Dodge Emphasizes Its Move Toward Performance As It Kills Off the Grand Caravan and Dodge Journey (Finally)
Dodge discontinued the Grand Caravan and the Journey for 2021by Ciprian Florea, on LISTEN 04:23
FCA announced that Dodge will end production of the Grand Caravan after the 2020 model year. The iconic minivan traces its roots back to 1983 when the Caravan made its debut and started the whole minivan craze in the United States. The Grand Caravan goes into the history books as the best-selling minivan in the U.S., with almost 123,000 units sold in 2019. The decision, which seems a bit weird, comes as Dodge decided to focus on performance models.
The Dodge Grand Caravan is America’s most iconic minivan
Development of the Dodge Caravan began in late 1977 when Chrysler wanted a vehicle that could provide seating for up to eight people while offering the comfort of a car and being small enough to fit in a standard-height garage. The Caravan debuted in late 1983 for the 1984 model year and became a popular choice, selling more than 130,000 units per year in its first three years on the market. Sales took off even more in the late 1980s, surpassing 200,000 examples per year. Plymouth also launched its own version of the minivan, the Voyager, in 1984. Sold with a range of four-cylinder end V-6 engines, the Caravan was redesigned in 1990, when Chrysler introduced the Town & Country using the same underpinnings and design.
The second-gen model was produced until 1995, also with four-cylinder and V-6 engines. The third-generation model broke cover for 1996, this time around also with a longer wheelbase version called the Grand Caravan. Dodge continued to offer both SWB and LWB models for the fourth-generation (2001-2007), but the fifth-gen minivan debuted as a Grand Caravan variant only in 2008. That’s the Grand Caravan we know today, as Dodge made little changes to the minivan since then. The Plymouth Voyager was discontinued in 2000, while the Chrysler Town & Country was replaced by the Pacifica in 2016.
The Caravan remained a popular nameplate in the 1990s, with sales averaging almost 300,000 units per year from 1996 to 1999. The 2000s saw sales drop below the 250,000 mark and eventually hit 176,000 units in 2007. From then on, the Grand Caravan averaged around 130,000 examples per year and remained America’s best selling minivan, despite solid competition from Honda and Toyota.
With 122,648 units sold in 2019, the Grand Caravan represents 29 percent of Dodge’s sales volume for the year, which makes the decision to discontinue the minivan a bit puzzling.
Dodge is also discontinuing the Journey - Finally
The Grand Caravan isn’t the only vehicle that’s going into the history books at the end of the 2020 model year. The minivan will be joined by the Journey. The SUV is just as old as the current-generation Grand Caravan, having been introduced in 2008 and completely forgotten about with next to no updates over more than a decade. It’s based on a platform co-developed with Mitsubishi that FCA stopped using in any other vehicle in 2017. The Journey sold 74,686 units in 2019, its slowest-selling year since 2011. Between them, the Grand Caravan and the Journey represent more than 38 percent of Dodges sales volume in 2020.
Dodge will only offer three models for the 2021 model year
With the Grand Caravan and Journey discontinued, Dodge will have only three vehicles in dealerships starting 2021: the Charger, Challenger, and the Durango. This isn’t uncommon within the FCA group, with brands like Chrysler, Ram, Fiat, and Alfa Romeo also selling four or fewer nameplates.
Can you still buy a minivan in the U.S.?
Although the Grand Caravan will be gone for good, you can still choose from a handful of minivans. The Chrysler Pacifica is the obvious choice if you want an FCA-made minivan, but it’s a bit more expensive. However, the less expensive Pacifica trims are available as the Voyager, a model that pretty much fills in for the Grand Caravan. Other options include the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, and the Kia Sedona.