heres how the third gen dodge ca
Altair Club Cars Heres how the third-gen Dodge Caravan became the standard for minivans in the 90s and 2000s

Heres how the third-gen Dodge Caravan became the standard for minivans in the 90s and 2000s

Watch the Caravan Part 1 episode here:

Back in 1996 chrysler introduced the third generation of its caravan voyager and town and country minivans with a ground up redesign that embraced the much more rounded and jelly bean car styling of the 90s gone was any connection to its former k-car roots and introduced new features that forced all of its competition to continue to play catch-up just like they did

With the first gen minivans in 1984. this is a story of the third and later generations of the plymouth voyager chrysler town and country and finally the dodge caravan which managed to live the longest finally ending production in 2020. this is my old car foreign so if you haven’t watched my earlier episode on the first and second generations of the chrysler

Minivans i have a link in the description to that one where i talk about my own experience with a second gen 1994 caravan yeah that experience was far from good but mostly because it was just me wishing for a much more fun car to drive we got a minivan because like many new parents back then it was the best type of vehicle to own later my wife would get a third

Gen caravan which he liked a lot until a particular event occurred that i will mention later the third generation of the chrysler minivans like i noted in my intro shared nothing with its predecessors chrysler had already gotten a head start with much of the rest of their lineup prior to 1996 in regard to their new styling direction the most notable being their lh

Sedans launched in 1993 which were a complete departure from the boxy sedans chrysler had become far too well known for in the 80s the trend continued with cars like a dodge and plymouth neon and halo cars like the dodge viper it was also soon to be a new era for chrysler becoming daimler chrysler in 98 and the minivans are one of the key elements that encouraged

Daimler to merge and sadly later try to take over chrysler but well before cars like the neon hit the market the new minivan design at chrysler began in 1990 it would end up being the most expensive new platform chrysler had ever produced up to that point at a cost of 2.8 billion us dollars back then ford was in the process of redesigning its aerostar minivan

With a target date to reach production by 1994 and potentially could lead past chrysler for the first time in the minivan market remember it’s in the back seat general motors had already introduced their dust buster vans by 1990 which although sold relatively well were still being outsold by chrysler’s then older boxy and far less futuristic looking minivans

Toyota also had head start with his 1990 previa but like the gm vans its polarizing looks but also its unusual mid-engine design weren’t for everyone and honda was behind most everybody else not yet having any minivan available in 1990. as chrysler was doing their market research and what potential buyers wanted in their next minivan a popular request was the

Option of a driver’s side sliding door early on chrysler saw this as a potential game changer something where ford’s research surprisingly didn’t match the preceding arguments for sliding doors on both sides were brought to you courtesy of the new dodge caravan and technically chrysler’s third gen minivans wouldn’t be the first to offer a driver’s side sliding

Door as nissan offered their stanza wagon in the 1980s ah the new 1986 nissan stanza wagon the only wagon with dual sliding doors he didn’t call it a minivan despite having sliding doors on both sides that may be because it stands a wagon what’s much smaller in fact too small to have a third row of seats by 1990 nissan redesigned the stanza wagon to become the

Access that’s with two x’s instead of two c’s which did have a third row but it was still smaller than the chrysler minivans and most people in the us likely never saw one as sales were so poor that it only lasted one year although canadians had it for five more years so although chrysler couldn’t officially lay claim to being the first minivan with a driver’s

Side sliding door when it came to market in 1996 it quickly became a major talking point among the automotive press which to me at the time made it all the more surprising when i spotted new caravan and voyager models without the driver’s side sliding door that’s because that door was an option initially across multiple trim levels although later the missing

Door was only on the base models those models also often didn’t have tinted windows so you can clearly see that they use the same window glass with or without a door but at least chrysler offered it and its popularity caught ford off guard and making them seriously regret not offering it on their new windstar minivan that replaced the aerostar for 1995. as a

Stop gap in 1997 ford increased the length of the driver’s door and allowed the seat to fold forward to gain access to the rear seat from that door although it really only worked for children to fit through the additional sliding door didn’t arrive until the windstar’s second generation released in the summer of 1998. soon after that chrysler finally made the

Driver’s side’s lighting door standard as by then it was the overwhelmingly popular choice chrysler also made improvements to the rear seat design to make them easier to remove the second and third row bench sheets had wheels which would pop into place when the seats were unlatched from the floor my wife’s caravan had this feature and admittedly it was clever

But it still didn’t address the biggest issue which was still needing two people to lift the seat up and out of the car the third gen was also engineered from the start to offer all-wheel drive as an option and still maintain the same floor height as the front wheel drive model and although i said that this generation of the minivan was a ground up redesign it

Didn’t mean they couldn’t share parts with other models do the caravan’s tail lamps look familiar if so then you also remember the first generation dodge durango which used the same tail lamps they also didn’t change out the engines from the second gen minivans at least for the v6 offerings and they borrow the 2.4 liter four-cylinder from the chrysler cloud

Cars the stratus cirrus and breeze i drive a dodge stratus which in the minivan offered almost the same performance in fuel economy as the v6s the same minivan continued to be available in europe van ended as the chrysler voyager since the dodge and plymouth brands weren’t marketed there but it looked like the dodge caravan and it was offered with a 2.5 liter

Four-cylinder turbo diesel this was the only engine that may have had a chance to be paired with a manual transmission for the minivan as chrysler debuted a concept in 1998 called the voyager xg which tried to compete oddly enough with more active outdoorsy crossovers in addition to the manual the xg also tried to look more sporty by sharing the same 17-inch wheels

That were on the plymouth prowler specifically the prowler’s front wheels not as 20 inch rear wheels so it never went beyond the concept the third gen minivans also introduced more differences between the dodge and plymouth models dodge was marketed as a more up level and sporty version as i noted before my wife had a third gen caravan and it was a sport model

Complete with a spoiler on the rear hatch it was the last dodge she ever owned however thanks to transmission failure before it reached 50 000 miles i suspect some of you will leave comments that the same happened to you the voyager was marketed as the value model which was the trend that plymouth was following in the 90s base models for both brands had gray

Plastic bumpers and door handles but you could go all the way to the es model on the dodge that even offered leather seats the town and country remained the highest trim offering although at the start in 1996 the driver’s side sliding door was optional in 1999 dodge experimented with an all-electric version of the caravan called the epic which stood for electric

Powered intra-urban commuter intended only as a lease vehicle for fleets in new york and california the fx 28 12 volt batteries could only go about 80 miles on a single charge at a time when there was no electric vehicle recharging network other than what the fleets installed on their own property only a few hundred were made before production ended in 2001 and

Most of the epics were crushed at the end of their lease to avoid any future liability just like gm did with its ev1 for the same reason the third generation was also the final for the plymouth voyager as the entire brand was being shut down during the 2000 mile a year at that point i figured it would be the end of the voyager name at least in north america but

With a three liter 150 horsepower v6 engine it has 36 times the cargo space of a porsche 911 but instead the voyager name moved to the chrysler brand and sold alongside the town and country i found this an odd decision at the time since the chrysler brand was marketed as the upscale division but now it was selling rebads base model voyagers by 2001 chrysler’s

Competition started to catch up in terms of offerings and design gm was a few years into their post-dust buster aravans the chevy venture pontiac montana and oldsmobile silhouette as was ford with their second gen windstar sister division mercury still had their villager shared with a nissan quest toyota had gone more mainstream with her toyota sienna and the

Odyssey was becoming one of honda’s most popular models in fact my wife’s caravan was ultimately replaced by an odyssey but chrysler didn’t want to mess too much with a good thing and so their fourth generation minivans which began development soon after the third gen went live in 1996 where a moderate rework of the third gen dodge grand caravan the best minivan

Ever maintaining the same general shape and look as their predecessors with the biggest visible changes being bigger grills headlamps and tail lamps sure let’s hide under the minivan great idea but the fourth general probably best be known for a feature they introduced in 2004 called stow and go seating which is only available in the long wheelbase models the

Idea of folding seats into the floor wasn’t a new concept as the odyssey offered it for its third row but for chrysler making it work for both the second and third row was a first for any minivan the development cost around 400 million us dollars not just for the seats themselves but to rework the entire underside of the van to accommodate the folded seats the

Only drawback was that all-wheel drive models were no longer available daddy just had to get a motorcycle give me funny huh as there simply was no way to incorporate an all-wheel drive rear axle and driveline with the stowed seats by 2008 the minivan market had significantly changed from its roots in the 1980s crossovers and suvs have become far more popular

And both ford and gm had abandoned minivans for the north american market chrysler themselves try to gain a foothold in the crossover arena with the pacifica but it wasn’t nearly as popular with less competition chrysler introduced a fifth generation grand caravan in town and country which had reverted back to a more boxy design and also only offered a long

Wheelbase model hence the name of the dodge model hey come on let’s go for riding the new this time around chrysler needed to play catch-up with his japanese competitors by offering power windows in the second row sliding doors it also offered more entertainment options for the second and third rows and even the second row could be optioned to rotate so that

It face the third row it would continue to be sold in europe as the chrysler grand voyager and later was even marketed there under the lancio brand but the oddest addition to the mix was the volkswagen routan introduced in 2008 as a slightly re-bodied caravan thanks to a partnership between diameter chrysler and volkswagen that began in 2005. it was a way for

Volkswagen to re-enter the u.s and canadian minivan market without the cost of engineering a new model themselves when parked alongside the caravan the family resemblance wasn’t hard to miss so much of the buying public wasn’t fooled it didn’t help that one of the most popular caravan features the stow and go seats weren’t available on the routan from the factory

And instead just had the storage spaces where the seats would have folded into and yet the routan cost several thousand dollars more than a caravan yet despite these faults the most bizarre thing volkswagen did was to hire brook shields to star in a mockumentary as well as follow commercials that suggested the introduction of the routan had triggered a new baby

Boom or as they called it the routan boom i’m brooke shields and this is the routan boom of course they probably thought it would be hilarious but today knowing how poorly the routan sold it’s a bit cringing to watch now every day in our country more and more people are having babies simply for german engineering is this the next baby boom yes i suspect brook

Shields isn’t exactly proud of it by 2012 after selling only 15 000 or less per year routine production ended and any remaining were sold over the next couple years as fleet models what about the routan made you decide to have a baby i’m sorry well you’re having this baby to get the minivan from volkswagen aren’t you this is a hidden camera show back in the 80s

And 90s chrysler really didn’t have much concern that they’re japanese competitors in the minivan segment would ever amount to a challenge but as the fifth generation caravan made it to the 2010s it became a common occurrence that both the odyssey and siena outsold it hey connor have a little dignity buddy in 2013 chrysler began planning its replacement although

At that time only considering a new version of the town and country by the mid-2010s the dodge division was trying to emphasize their role as chrysler’s performance brand and the caravan didn’t fit that image so it stays appeared numbered although honestly the dodge journey which they consider to be a replacement for the short wheelbase caravan didn’t fit the

Sporty image either foreign 2016 chrysler replaced the town and country with the pacifica whoever drives it must be really handsome and a hung an all-new minivan there was nothing like this short-lived crossover that had the same name a decade earlier how long have you been there with the introduction of the pacifica chrysler’s plan was originally to have the

Caravan be discontinued that same year but by then the caravan with its current generation having been in place for eight years was still selling over 100 000 units a year and with all the retooling and design costs of the 5th gen being fully paid for continued caravan sales simply met more profit as a result the caravan lingered on until the 2020 model year

Ranking it as the second longest running nameplate in dodge’s history second only to the charger which is still in production as a recording of this video in 2022 although chrysler brought back the voyager name for a lower content version of the pacifica its minivan heyday is probably in the past thanks to millions of them being sold this is one old car that

Has a better than average chance of still being seen on the road today they will never be my favorite type of vehicle to drive and as i made clear in my first caravan episode but based on the comments i have gotten clearly i am in the minority when it comes to the love of minivans especially the caravan hello thanks for watching if you like this video click

The like button and subscribe to my channel look at that coke that barely fits in there if he wants to own a car from the 80s to mid-2000s that you rarely see your day and would like it featured in a future episode leave a reply in the comments or contact me at the email shown here see you next time foreign

Transcribed from video
Here’s how the third-gen Dodge Caravan became the standard for minivans in the 90s and 2000s By My Old Car

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