By on June 29, 2019

fca

The Dodge Grand Caravan isn’t dead yet, but minivan buyers in the market for a low-end people mover will have a new option come 2020. Earlier this week, FCA announced the reintroduction of the Voyager — a nameplate that began life as a full-size Plymouth van in the 1970s before morphing into a front-drive minivan for 1984.

Following Plymouth’s death, the Chrysler brand fielded a short-wheelbase Voyager model until 2003 in North America, with Grand Voyagers (LWB Town & Countrys) serving overseas until 2016.

While FCA doesn’t intend the new Voyager to be a cheap, bare-bones stripper, it will replace the lower-rung trim levels of the Pacifica, giving fleet operators something to consider once the Grand Caravan shuffles off into the afterlife.

For the record, FCA claims the Grand Caravan will stage a return for the 2020 model year, reports. The model’s discontinuation date is not yet set in stone.

Offered in L, LX, and LXI versions (the latter trim serving as a fleet-only model), the Voyager’s presence means the elimination of the Pacifica L and LX trims. Rumors still abound that the Pacifica will add an all-wheel drive option in the near future in the hopes of stemming the exodus of minivan buyers to the crossover realm.

What can you expect from a Voyager? Well, fleet buyers can look forward to leatherette seats, with L and LX customers receiving cloth chairs, FCA’s familiar Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 (287 horsepower, 282 lb-ft), a nine-speed automatic, a 7-inch touchscreen running the company’s Uconnect 4 infotainment system, and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

fca

FCA’s Stow ‘n Go second-row seating will only be available to fleet buyers, where the chair-hiding feature pairs with standard remote start and rear-seat sunshades. All other buyers have access to an optional Stow ‘n Place roof rack, rear-seat DVD player (LX only), and SafetyTec Group driver-assist features. That bundle includes rear park assist with stop, blind-spot monitoring, and Rear Cross Path detection.

As for pricing, FCA’s keeping that under its hat for now. The 2019 Pacifica line starts at $28,730, with the Grand Caravan starting a couple hundred dollars lower (assuming you’re unable to wrangle big incentives from the dealer). Expect a similar, or perhaps slightly lower, floor price for a vehicle FCA bills as a “a no-compromise minivan at an unbeatable value.”

News of the nameplate’s resurrection comes on the heels of this spring’s announcement of a September shift cut at FCA’s Windsor, Ontario minivan plant. Through the end of May, Pacifica sales fell 29 percent in the United States. The Grand Caravan, which still outsells its more modern stablemate by a wide margin, saw its volume drop 15 percent in the first five months of 2019.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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72 Comments on “Now, Voyager: Fiat Chrysler Blows the Cobwebs Off an Old Minivan Nameplate...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Sounds like a good move

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Why not just keep the Caravan name? Doesn’t that have the most brand equity?

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        It’s a Dodge nameplate. They could facelift the Pacifica and sell it as the Dodge Caravan.

        • 0 avatar
          Steve203

          “It’s a Dodge nameplate. They could facelift the Pacifica and sell it as the Dodge Caravan.”

          That would fight the pavement ripper image FCA is building for Dodge. Chrysler is being fitted with a “people mover” image, so a low buck, low performance, minivan fits Chrysler better.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    For the past few years, Chrysler has only sold 2 models of cars, the 300 and the Pacifica. Now they sell three :)

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Am I right to assume that this means the Pacifica is due for a new generation and the Voyager will carry largely similar sheet metal as the triplets did back in the day?

  • avatar
    honda1

    And then there were 3, and still nobody cares.

  • avatar
    WhatsMyNextCar

    Badge engineering. Yuck. This is an awful idea.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I thought it was more decontenting

      • 0 avatar
        WhatsMyNextCar

        Right.
        The Plymouth Neon was a decontented Dodge Neon.
        The Plymouth Acclaim was a badge-engineered decontented Dodge Spirit, itself a decontented LeBaron.
        The Plymouth Voyager was a badge-engineered decontented Dodge Caravan, itself a decontented Town & Country.

        This is badge engineering. They should have just left it a Pacifica and take the trim level off the base model.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Thanks for clarifying all of that

          “This is badge engineering. They should have just left it a Pacifica and take the trim level off the base model.”

          … and called it Plymouth, hey wait

        • 0 avatar
          iNeon

          All neons were the same. That was the whole point of the exercise. Why pretend to make different cars when neon was so good? Neon was damn-near artful in it’s marketing and introduction and shifted the paradigm before shifting the paradigm had been copy-written and made a lifestyle.

          Why didn’t you mention the Chrysler neon if you’re an expert in badge-engineered Chrysler models?

          This Voyager is FCA’s way to protect the value of the Pacifica brand— but you aren’t clever enough to have been topical, and chose to dive into a time machine to redefine 2019 in 1992 terms. Do you remember the other Pacifica?

          Seems FCA learned from that DCX mistake.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Actually the Neon was the laziest effort in badge engineering. Same car just sold by both Dodge and Plymouth. Don’t even bother to engineer any badges for it

          • 0 avatar
            iNeon

            That is not neon’s story— the two of y’all will not re-write history.

            Neon was a wildly-successful product built by Chrysler corporation. The car helped reignite the horsepower wars we’re still fighting- no competing car was bigger, faster— more modern or profitable when neon was released.

            Neon changed small cars.

            Neon was sold under the same name by planning- the car was ground-breakingly good. Front-end and interior styling so popular— they were slid right-on-over to the w203 MB C-Class after the merge. Bustle-back rear styling that brought us the Bangle-butt.

            Neon was significant. Do not diminish that to feel superior. Jack Baruth— as loathe as I am to use another’s endorsement to further my point— races/d a neon— and they sparred well-above their class, besting cars like the ‘legendary’ Acura Integra, Honda Civic Si and the Toyota Celica.

            All Chrysler Corporation neons— no matter the brand or trim— were built to destroy the competition. And they did for a short while. DCX neons didn’t.

            Point of all of this?

            Neon was so good it is one of the reasons we have better Civics and Corollas today. She played her part so well and I will not allow that redefined to negative ends.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I’m sorry, Mr. i Neon, I had forgotten how crucial the Neon was to the evolution of the automobile

            Thank God Dodge developed it, or was it Plymouth? It was Dodge, right? Wait, it was Plymouth, I think

          • 0 avatar
            The_Guru

            Neon was paradigm shifting for small cars, FOR Chrysler. For you to pretend its what made Civics and Corollas better is a flippin joke.

          • 0 avatar
            iNeon

            This is your warning, Sociopath. Step back and re-evaluate with whom and how you’re exchanging facts.

            Neon was never badge-engineered. Neon was a single vehicle sold under 3 brands—

          • 0 avatar
            iNeon

            No car exists in a vacuum, Guru. Both Honda and Toyota saw neon as a small car threat. This is documented and fact.

            It was that popular and profitable. Noble little cars.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            OMG, you mean the Neon was a Chrysler TOO?

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            Uhh, do you have anything to cite that “Neon styling slid over to W203” thing? Because that all sounds a step too far.

            I do agree that the Neon was significant, it was a clear effort for a domestic brand to take small cars seriously, and it was competitive, if somewhat hamstrung by their efforts to make something that would be profitable on a budget. However, the W203 started design in ’95, and is very clearly carrying through themes started on the W210 E-Class and R170 SLK. Unless you can cite a specific quote from someone, it’s an absurd statement, and at best, they’re products with a shared era, that would naturally have similarities from being designed in similar environments.

          • 0 avatar

            The amazing thing about the internet is that you can find people who have very strong opinions for and against 25 year old subcompacts.

            (I’m mildly pro-neon, in that my dad had one when I was a teenager and it was a decent car)

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Let’s not forget that the Neon was also the bases of the wildly popular PT Cruiser

          • 0 avatar
            iNeon

            Maymar- neon was released in 1994 as a 1995 model and achieved instant success.

            Proof of cross-pollination is in your own essay.

            Neon was released to much fanfare and even higher profits. It— along with the other wildly-successful Chrysler Renaissance cars…

            *brought-about a merger of the two companies we’re discussing*

            Neon was the standard-bearer. There was no better compact car to benchmark when the w203 began design- after neon went public— and the two companies were one-and-the-same three years prior to w203’s release.

            I think we’re not supposed to do this self-identifying thing— but I do have a degree in Art History and facts is facts.

          • 0 avatar
            tankinbeans

            Lie2Me, I can’t tell if the remark about Neons being badged as Chryslers as well was sarcastic or not (I have a hard time telling online), but it certainly did carry the Chrysler badge overseas. Never in the United States as far as I know. European versions even had amber turn signals.

            About 10 years ago there was a story on TTAC about a barn find with something like 100 Chrysler Neons.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            No, I wasn’t being sarcastic, I did not know that Neons were sold as Chryslers as well as Dodge and Plymouth, just not in the US

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            I knew the (original) Neon was the real deal when they started getting modded like the Hondas and Acuras. I lived in Atlanta in the 90’s and you could see the shift away from “tuned” Honda products to Chrysler products. It warmed my crusty midwestern heart to see this.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            The Neon didn’t make Hondas or Toyotas better quality wise…they were a bit crude with respect to NVH, assembly, and with that 3 speed auto, but they did bring more performance to the table, especially with respect to base motors and I think the Japanese upped their game there as a result.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Japanese base motors…I only recall a single motor in the Neons back then.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I’ll agree with Art here. The Neon certainly didn’t set any quality or refinement standards (although in the right hands they can last a very long time), but certainly the bar for performance was raised. The 1st gens weighed around 2400lb and were packign 130hp in a BASE 2.0L SOHC motor, 150hp from the optional DOHC 2.0L, while still managing very impressive MPG. Handling too, the neon was right up there with the Hondas.

  • avatar
    Mackey

    Just a guess, but I feel like the “Town and Country” name was (in Chrysler’s eyes) too valuable to keep attached to a minivan when the real profitability and cache these days is in SUVs. If any model name should be applied to a premium people mover, it should be the T&C. Replace it with other familiar name(s), let it sit for a couple of years, then apply it to a Chrysler branded version of the up and coming Jeep Wagoner/Grand Wagoner…

    Not sure why they saw fit to once again confuse their consumers by applying different model names to different from levels of the same vehicle- I can see it for fleet use only, but not for a retail customer seeing them side by side on the lot.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I can’t see how mini-van sales can be profitable for Fiatsler since the bulk of buyers would opt for SUVs/CUVs from Dodge and Jeep.

      And if a person/family could only afford to have ONE vehicle, there simply is no substitute for a stripper CrewCab RAM truck. I see a lot of those with young military families on the nearby military bases.

      Even more popular than the stripper CrewCab RAM trucks with young military families in MY area, is the not so stripped CrewCab Nissan Titan S. One hell of a deal that does it all, if you can only afford ONE vehicle.

      • 0 avatar

        Between the Pacifica and the Caravan, FCA sold about 250.000 minivans, which is about half of the minivan market.

        http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2019/01/minivan-sales-in-america-december-2018/

        Sure, minivans are a niche, but FCA is owning that niche. They are still popular with certain segments of the population – rentals, fleets, families with lots of kids.

        Sure, they aren’t as profitable as the RAM 1500, but they are way more profitable than anything with a Fiat , Alfa, or Maserati badge in total sales.

        • 0 avatar
          jalop1991

          Let me tell you, there is NOTHING like a minvan. NOTHING.

          One of the problems, though, is that minivans last forever. Someone is driving my 02 Odyssey; I replaced it with an 07 just a couple of years ago, and my wife has no desire to give it up. We pack it up and take 4 people to the beach for a couple of weeks, and it’s effortless. No one is buying a new minivan because of breathless marketing telling him he NEEDS a new van, and he’s not out there seeking a replacement.

          No, minivans just…are, and they keep on doing it. My 12 year old Odyssey has 53K miles on it (I bought it used 2 years ago with 33K on it!) and will go forever. It works, it’s comfy, the air blows cold, and there you have it.

          I’ve looked at the Pacifica, and I’d love to have one, but nothing’s told me that I must spend $45K to replace the old Odyssey.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            $45K? Pacificas start at $27K. You don’t need $20K worth of options

            I like minivans and Chrysler wrote the book on minivans. If I needed a minivan the Pacifica would be at the top of my list, especially when it gets AWD. I just have no use for a minivan

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      I agree, from a marketing standpoint the Chrysler T&C should compete directly with the Escalade, more modernized with more features at the same price. And be better looking, and ride like a true $90K car. Not a difficult task.

  • avatar
    The_Guru

    I cant wait for the widebody version 15 years from now.

  • avatar
    Steve203

    Makes a lot of sense. There must be a significant cost in keeping two different minivans compliant with changing regulations. iirc, the plan from the beginning was to offer a decontended Pacifica to replace the Caravan. By resurrecting the Voyager name, they can keep the Pacifica’s image as the higher priced model. Meanwhile, the Caravan does not fit the pavement ripper image FCA cultivates for Dodge, so it is deleted.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Isn’t the Dodge Caravan the Number 1 selling minivan in the US? If so FCA doesn’t want to give up the sales it generates. It makes sense to replace the aging Caravan with this van instead of just discontinuing vans. I still see a fair amount of newer Caravans on the road and by the time this new model reaches the market the tooling on the Pacifica should be either paid off or about paid off. Makes sense to use the Pacifica platform.

  • avatar
    Rocket

    I fail to see the logic behind this strategy. If the Voyager were going to be exclusively a fleet offering or use a shorter wheelbase, then it would make some sense. But using a completely different model name for lower trims of the Pacifica will only serve to dilute the Pacifica’s sales numbers. What am I missing?

  • avatar
    gtem

    I actually like that “cheapened” simplified rear bumper design. I really like how these look and drive, strongly considered one for our family but the first 2 years have some pretty abysmal reliability/quality marks, even compared to the older Caravan which itself is not exactly a shining star in this regard. Was most spooked by the stop/start acting up on people while at highway speeds.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      All this talk about Fiatsler minivans. I believe there are better out there.

      For instance, my daughter-in-law’s Sienna AWD, and my daughter’s 2013 Odyssey which my wife is currently driving while our daughter is away on vaca for six weeks.

      Fiatsler may sell the most minivans, and McDonald’s sells the most burgers. But that doesn’t mean that either is the best in their own category.

      I can name a couple of burger joints that are better than Mickey D’s, and I already listed two minivan makers that are better than Fiatsler.

      Goes to show, you can’t account for individual tastes.

      Well, maybe if you discount Fiatsler minivans enough, but that still doesn’t make them better.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        Went minivan shopping with some parents recently. We drove everything on the market. The Pacifica is the best of the minivans, and the Pacifica Hybrid is the best of the Pacificas. This is the one thing that company does really, really well, and they are still the leader.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Better? In terms of long term reliability quite possibly. I started my minivan hunt biased towards Siennas and Odysseys, with XLE/EX-L trims in mind (prerequisite with spill-proof leather and heated seats for the wife). 3-4 year old Toyotas/Hondas were all in the $24-26k range. I hated the Odyssey’s interior in terms of dash layout and materials, and the Sienna’s non-removable center console was a major put-off.

        I had rented a Pacifica for work to drive from Iowa to Indiana solo and fell in love. Easily superior interior design and quality to the Honda/Toyota, very solid body, great ride/handling, stow-and-go, got 29mpg cruising at 75-77mph on the highway. But Pacificas too were in the $24-26k bracket for an ex-Fleet Touring L with about 30-40k miles. The black dots from Consumer Reports and on rate of repairs on TrueDelta spooked me.

        I had been poo-pooing the older Caravan/T&C from afar this whole time, have had Caravan rentals a number of times and thought they were OK, but after the Pacifica they just felt outdated with creaky bodies and noisy/crashy suspensions, inferior ergonomics and comfort. Reliability too, it seemed like my brother’s friend with a shop worked on nothing but late model Caravans for any kind of issue: A/C leaks, failed HVAC blend doors, balljoints on 3 year old vans, etc.

        But I couldn’t resist the value they presented. I got my off-lease privately owned 2016 Town and Country Touring L in fantastically clean shape with 34k miles for all of $18k. That’s heated leather seats and steering wheel, rear entertainment, the works. Also the center console is removable to allow easy access from the front row to the back, something only the Odyssey still also offers.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          I remember when both my daughter AND daughter-in-law went shopping for minivans, separately and at different times. And they also looked at the offerings from Fiatsler.

          For whatever reasons they ended up buying what they did. And since we are using that 2013 Odyssey right now as my wife’s DD since our daughter is on her six-week sea cruise, we have no complaints. It is an EX-L and the leather gets a wee bit hot when the van is parked in the El Paso, TX sun for any length of time.

          But ride, handling, low NVH levels, and comfort. That Odyssey has it in spades. Smooth, tight and easy going.

          Ironically, when it is time to trade, both my daughter and daughter-in-law will be replacing these vans with an SUV or CUV.

          I’m guessing here but my daughter may end up with a new AWD Highlander, and my daughter-in-law probably with a new AWD Sequoia.

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    So instead of making a modest investment to refresh the Dodge Caravan’s looks and modernizing its interior, FCA decides to further cheapen Chrysler’s upscale Pacifica minivan by bringing back the nameplate of its cheapest ever minivan to disguise its lack of investment. The only way this makes sense is if the Pacifica is about to be restyled to differentiate it from the so-called Voyager which will soldier on with the current styling.

    And where are the new vehicles? FCA might as well kill Chrysler and send the next-gen Pacifica to Dodge.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Yeah. The Pacifica is one of the few products they have that is legitimately recognized for excellence. To cheapen its brand equity seems dumb as dirt… but never underestimate the ability of FCA to make dumb decisions.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      There’s no way they’re putting any money into the old Caravan platform at this point, they’re going to keep cranking them out and printing cash until a new IIHS safety test gets cooked up or demand finally starts to dry up (I don’t see the latter happening any time soon tbh)


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