When the Dodge (Grand) Caravan debuted for the 1984 model year, it was a trendsetter- every auto manufacturer from every country wanted in on the market. The minivan, which was originally based on Chrysler's "K" Platform, was the brainchild of the late Lee Iacocca, and offered the versatility and passenger-carrying capabilities of a larger station wagon with the fuel economy and maneuverability of a smaller sedan. But after five generations, Dodge is finally laying the Grand Caravan to rest after the 2020 model year.
You see, as Americans move towards crossover SUV's, minivan sales have been on a decline. When the fifth-generation (and latest) Dodge Grand Caravan made its debut for the 2008 model year (eleven years ago), Dodge sold a healthy 163,145 examples of its latest minivan. However, in 2015 (the last reported number that we were able to find), Dodge only sold 61,981 Grand Caravans, most of them being sold to rental fleets. In fact, even the Grand Caravan-based Dodge Journey crossover SUV sold 99,873 examples in 2018, even with a basic design that dates back to a decade ago. But the Journey provides the same amount of practicality with better fuel economy at a slightly lower price point.
In 1984, a base Dodge Caravan, with no options, had a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $9,109 (this amounts to approximately $23,000 in 2018 dollars). A base 2019 Dodge Grand Caravan SE, without options, has an MSRP of $27,040, and a 2019 Dodge Journey SE FWD with has an MSRP of $23,645, and is one of America's most affordable midsize crossover SUV's. All 2019 Dodge Grand Caravans are powered by the venerable 3.6L Pentastar VVT V6 gasoline engine, which is FlexFuel-capable to run on E85 Ethanol in addition to regular gasoline, and produces a healthy 283 horsepower and 260 lb. ft. of torque (in comparison, the base 1984 Dodge Caravan was powered by a 2.2L Inline Four-Cylinder (I4) gasoline engine from the "K"-Car producing a good-for-the-time 96 horsepower and 119 lb. ft. of torque). All Grand Caravans use the Chrysler 62TE six-speed automatic transmission (in the past, the Dodge (Grand) Caravan also offered a manual transmission option), and are Front Wheel Drive (FWD) (Dodge also sold All Wheel Drive (AWD) version of the (Grand) Caravan in the past). The base 2019 Dodge Grand Caravan offers a decent amount of standard equipment for the $27,040 entry price, including a U Connect 430 touchscreen infotainment system with a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, U Connect Bluetooth technology with wireless stereo audio streaming via A2DP, a six-speaker audio system, cloth seating surfaces, eight-passenger seating (the SE is the only Grand Caravan that offers seating for eight passengers with a second-row bench seat, as all other models offer seven-passenger seating with "Stow-'n'-Go" second-row bucket seats), power windows and door locks, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, a rearview backup camera system, a cruise control, the aforementioned 3.6L Pentastar VVT FlexFuel-Capable V6 gasoline engine and 62TE six-speed automatic transmission, traction and stability controls, dual front and front and rear side SRS airbags, front and rear air conditioning and heater controls, and much more. The midlevel Grand Caravan SE Plus adds aluminum-alloy wheels, second-row "Stow-'n'-Go" bucket seats, power-sliding rear doors, a power rear tailgate, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and the option for a rear DVD and Blu-Ray entertainment system. The top-of-the-line Grand Caravan SXT adds luxury leather-trimmed seating surfaces with microfiber suede-like inserts, dual heated front bucket seats, a power-adjustable front driver's bucket seat, remote start, a security system, and other luxury and convenience touches. There's also a top-of-the-line Grand Caravan GT (nee R/T) that's only available to fleet buyers, and adds a nine-speaker premium amplified surround-sound audio system with rear-mounted subwoofer and a 506-watt digital amplifier, GPS navigation with SiriusXM Travel Link, and Gloss Black accents on the exterior.
So with the Dodge Grand Caravan being discontinued after 2020, what will replace it in the affordable minivan segment? Sister brand Chrysler already offers the Pacifica, which was introduced for the 2017 model year and also offers a Plug-In Hybrid variant, but for 2020, Chrysler will be reintroducing the Voyager name to the United States (last seen for the 2003 model year), and will be relegating the lower trim levels of the Pacifica (L and LX, as well as a fleet-exclusive LXi trim level) to the Voyager, which should start around the same price as a base 2019 Chrysler Pacifica L. More "Value-Added" features, such as a rear seat entertainment system, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and available "Ultra-Tec" leatherette-trimmed seating surfaces (available only on the fleet-exclusive LXi trim level) will be available on the new Voyager. Will you miss the Dodge Grand Caravan? Let us know in the comments down below!