Dodge Grand Caravan Is Dead, Will Go ‘n Stow In That Minivan Graveyard in the Sky

It’s long been known that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to move the ancient Dodge Grand Caravan minivan to the back burner, and let the van fade into the sunset and leave the Chrysler Pacifica and Voyager as the group’s only minivan options. Well, vanatics, that day is here. Will the Dodge Grand Caravan live to see the 2021 model year? Nope. The model is officially being discontinued, with production phasing out by May at the Windsor, Canada assembly plant that builds it.

Goodbye, Boxy Blandness

The news comes courtesy of the union representing workers at FCA’s Windsor facility, where 1500 workers will be affected by the Grand Caravan’s departure. (FCA confirmed to us that the Dodge Grand Caravan is being discontinued and production is winding down.) With the Dodge van out of the picture, FCA will rely on the recently created Chrysler Voyager, which is essentially a low-spec Pacifica sold at an attractive discount, as its budget minivan offering. The Pacifica, meanwhile, is upgraded for 2021 with fresh styling, newly available all-wheel drive, and a plush Platinum trim level.

On sale in the same basic form since 2007, the Grand Caravan soldiered on through a design renaissance period of sorts for minivans in general. Heck, when the current Grand Caravan debuted it used a pushrod V-6! That is how old this thing is! Eventually, that old lump gave way to the modern corporate Pentastar V-6 that’s found in nearly every large FCA product today. Meanwhile, during the same 13-year period, the Honda Odyssey got progressively more luxurious, the Toyota Sienna took a weird swerve toward sportiness, and Chrysler’s Pacifica name resurfaced on the Town & Country’s sleek, tech-addled 2017 replacement. Even as the segment passed the Grand Caravan by, it stoically remained boxy, uninspiring, and at the back of the pack.

Stow ‘n Go and Other Usefulness

Where some see lackluster design and performance, savvy parents saw selling points. The Grand Caravan’s hard interior plastics and simple surfacing made cleaning up children’s messes a snap. It also proved exceedingly durable. Have you ever watched kids interact with their surroundings when they’re strapped down, like, say, to a high chair or in a stroller? Yeah, they flail a lot and bang on things. Who’d want to sully their fancy leather-lined Honda Odyssey’s interior with that kind of abuse? Other highlights of the ol’ Dodge include a surprising amount of ground clearance, which makes the van decently adroit on two-tracks leading to campsites or when engaging in light off-roading. (In fact, this author once piloted a borrowed a current-gen Grand Caravan down a bumpy, craggy shaft into a limestone mine hundreds of feet below ground and didn’t scrape a thing.)

Last but not least, this Grand Caravan continued to utilize the state-of-the-art Stow ‘n Go seating option that debuted near the end of the previous generation model’s life. The setup allows the second-row seats to fold flat into cubbies hidden in the floor; when the seats are raised, those cubbies turn into, well, usable hidden storage cubbies. The feature lives on in the Pacifica and Voyager and remains a standout in the segment, where many competitors still force owners to remove seats from their minivans entirely for a flat, open cargo floor when hauling large items.

While it’s sad to see this workhorse go, perhaps it is sadder that Dodge has no plans to replace the Grand Caravan. That effectively kills off the storied nameplate, which dates back to the 1980s. And with the Town & Country name gone, too, Chrysler’s lone link to its original minivans is the oddball Voyager. Hey, nothing lasts forever, and screaming deals on brand-new Grand Caravans will only survive as long as those vans stick around on dealership lots. We suggest that if you’re in the market for a bargain van, head to a Dodge dealer—we’ve seen plenty of these listed for absurdly low prices, even a few for under $20,000.














The post Dodge Grand Caravan Is Dead, Will Go ‘n Stow In That Minivan Graveyard in the Sky appeared first on MotorTrend.

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