Report: Dodge Grand Caravan Sticking Around

For all you Dodge Grand Caravan lovers out there, your worst dreams may not be realized after all! Despite Dodge brand chief Tim Kuniskis’ 2014 announcement that the Grand Caravan would be dropped from the lineup in 2016, Autonews.com reports that that may not be the case.

So before you go running out to your local Dodge dealers in Miami, read below about the changes (or the potential lack thereof) coming to the Dodge brand…

Dodge Grand Caravan

Grand Caravan Staying Put?

According to internal company documents, Fiat Chrysler will continue production of the Grand Caravan until at least the 2017 model year. The 2016 model will begin production this August, and it will last until August 2016. At that point, the manufacturer is set to begin building the 2017 model, with production scheduled to begin on August 23, 2016.

Based on those dates, it seems unlikely that Grand Caravan production would end in 2016. However, as Vellequette notes, that could just be an indication of a (very) short 2017 model run.

In May, 2014, Kuniskis announced that Chrysler would be dropping the Dodge Gran Caravan in 2016, with the executive citing a desire to “purify the brand.” How were they attempting to do that?

Chrysler would be the brand competing with the Toyotas and Fords of the world, while Dodge would be focused on designing sporty, performance-oriented vehicles (like the three-row crossover they were planning on using to replace the Grand Caravan). Clearly, the Grand Caravan wouldn’t fit into this mold, but it appears that Chrysler may have some different opinions regarding the minivan.

In fact, it may have been a misunderstanding from the beginning. At the Fiat Chrysler Automobile Investor Day in 2014, CEO Sergio Marchionne told the crowd(including CarAndDriver.com’s Andrew Wendler), “I never said the Caravan nameplate was going away.” When asked to elaborate, Marchionne replied, “I think you’ll be pleased with the decision.”

2016 Grand Caravan

Not many details have been released regarding the 2016 Grand Caravan. We’ve learned about the larger, flatter design, allowing for more cabin space without compromising the vehicle’s sleek look. The minivan will still have it’s class-leading power, as the 3.6-liter V6 engine can produce 283 horsepower.

Sergio Marchionne CEO

Safety features are often a priority for prospective minivan buyers, and the Grand Caravan doesn’t skimp out. There’s dual front airbags, blind-space monitors, parking sensors, rear mix-path recognition… the list is practically endless.

Buyers also have the option of customizing their minivan with all of the latest technology, including a 40 GB hard disk, bluetooth capabilities, USB ports, and multiple nine-inch video graphics array screens. Even if it is the minivan’s last year in production, Dodge will still be operating under the same mind frame: their customers deserve the best.

Offering 17 city and 25 highway mpg, the minivan is estimated to cost in the vicinity of $21,000 (for the basic package) and $30,000 (for the R/T models).

History of Grand Caravan

Ford Motor Company employees Lee Iacocca and Hal Sperlich came up with the idea for the minivan back in 1974, but it was promptly rejected by Henry Ford II. The duo eventually moved on to the Chrysler Corporation, where they combined to create the ‘T-115 minivan,” which would eventually become both the Grand Caravan and Voyager.

Based on the Chrysler S platform, the Grand Caravan was originally introduced back in 1987. Since then, it’s been the highest-selling minivan in the United States. The Honda Odyssey recently took the top spot on the list of best-selling minivans, which could confirm the company’s declaration that the market for such a vehicle is declining.

1987 Grand Caravan

What About the Town and Country?

The Grand Caravan will be built alongside the updated version of the Chrysler Town and Country, which is set to being production on February 29, 2016 at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plan in Windsor, Ontario. That version of the Town and Country will be a 2017 model, with the 2016 model being produced on a short run from early-August this year to mid-February.

Speaking of the 2017 Town and Country, AllPar.com has some details on the future minivan. Instead of the standard 3.2-liter V6 engine (as seen in the Jeep Cherokee), this minivan will feature a Pentastar V6 engine to compensate for the extra weight. Additionally, the Town and Country will feature a 948TE nine-speed transmission, which will produce an insane amount of torque. This will also reportedly be the first nine-speed automatic transmission available among minivans.

2016 Grand Caravan

Among the most exciting details of the 2016 Town and Country is the reported hybrid version, while will be capable of an estimated 75 gallons per mile.

The Future of Minivans

As Vellequette points out, extended production of the Grand Caravan would mean that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles would be able to fill minivan requests for fleet customers, while at the same time continuing sales in Canada. The Grand Caravan is tops among minivans in America’s hat.

In the United States, however, minivan sales have dropped across the board. Due to restrictions placed on fleet sales (as a result of the Windsor, Ontario plant’s three-month shutdown), Grand Caravan prices fell 51-percent this year.

Of course, the higher-ups were generally pretty tightlipped in regards to the story, with a company spokesman saying, “While we’ve announced the Grand Caravan will eventually be the minivan that goes away, we’re not going into more detail at this time.”

Dodge Grand Caravan Minivan

For Grand Caravan lovers, this would likely fall under the ‘any news is good news’ category. Hoping to see your other favorite discontinued Dodge vehicles make a return? You’re out of luck with at least the Avenger, as production has officially ended, and the car’s “successor” has already been named (the Chrysler 200).

In regards to the Grand Caravan, you may have additional time to purchase the stylish minivan. Similar to any retired vehicle, the demand for the minivan will likely skyrocket when it’s officially been pulled off the market. Unless you’re holding out for the 2016 or (potential) 2017 version, you should head down to Kendall Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram in Miami, where they can hook you up with any of your favorite Dodge models.