By on June 19, 2013

2011_Chrysler_Town_&_Country_--_03-24-2011 (1)

It appears that the Chrysler Town & Country has won the minivan Hunger Games, as the latest report from the Windsor Star claims that the T&C will be the lone minivan offering from Chrysler when the next generation van goes on sale in 2015.

The subject of which van would survive has been a constant source of speculation for industry watchers. Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has issued a number of conflicting statements, stating one brand would get a new larger crossover. It turns out that Chrysler will be getting a van, and a crossover, while Windsor’s assembly plant will some new product as well

Chrysler has not said publicly which of the two vans would be discontinued or when a new van would be launched. However, CEO Sergio Marchionne has said that the plant will get a new global platform, capable of producing a variety of vehicles, including a sedan as well as a small van for international export.

The new crossover is said to be reminiscent of the Chrysler Pacifica in that it’s a large crossover ostensibly with three rows. There’s been talk of Dodge axing the Durango, and a Chrysler crossover would give dealers a way to retain Durango customers, while also beefing up the brand’s current 4-vehicle lineup. The loss of the Durango and Caravan would hurt Dodge in the short-term, but the two don’t exactly fit with the brand’s “sporty” image. Then again, neither does the Journey, but that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere either. One market that would feel the sting of the Grand Caravan’s demise is of course, Canada. The Caravan is a perennial best-seller in The Great White North, and the T&C would have to dip a lot lower in its pricing range to fill the void left by budget entries like the $18,995 Caravan Canada Value Package and better equipped mid-level trim ranges (for comparison, the T&C starts at just over $30k in Canada).

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59 Comments on “Latest Rumors Out Of Windsor Point To Dodge Grand Caravan’s Demise...”


  • avatar
    Rental Man

    Mercury said it would not be getting a new Sable or Mountaineer.They also said they were not killing the brand. They just dried it up.
    TTAC Death watchs were out for Suzuki, Mercury, SAAB.
    Is TTAC launching the Dodge Death watch soon?

    • 0 avatar
      stars9texashockey

      And recent reports say that Dodge won’t get an Avenger replacement either.

      RIP Dodge.

      • 0 avatar
        Pig_Iron

        But wait, what about the rumoured Dodge Barracuda?

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          The Barracuda will actually be under the SRT brand, alongside the Viper…so there goes that as well. And even if the Journey soldiers on, there’s only so long that Chrysler Group can keep peddling a ho-hum-looking crossover (although the Volvo XC90 begs to differ). If these rumors are true, Dodge will indeed be left without much of a portfolio.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    This makes a lot of sense to me. Dodge is an aggressive brand with a muscle car heritage, gun-themed car names, and crosshairs on the grills. The brand’s tagline should be “DODGE THIS, M———-!”

    Minivans just don’t belong in that brand.

    The Viper and the Charger belong this brand. Sensible family transportation does not belong.

    Chrysler can sell sensible family transportation, though.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Though, if the Viper, the Charger, and the Caravan are all still K-Cars, then it wouldn’t matter what you called them.

      A K-Car by any other name…..

    • 0 avatar
      200k-min

      But isn’t Chrysler supposed to be a “premium” brand? I know it’s laughable and even less upmarket than whatever Lincoln thinks they are, but the point remains Chrysler sees itself upmarket. I just don’t think the marketplace sees minivans as upmarket. Granted what a new loaded up Odyssey or Sienna costs I would consider them premium.

      What is the non-fleet sales on both T&C and Caravan sales? I thought they’d just kill off the line entirely. I literally see dozens of Honda/Toyota minivans for every one Chrysler that’s actually carrying kids. All the Chrysler variants seem to be fleet vehicles run by people like painters or electricians, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        MLS

        Kill off the minivan line entirely? Get a grip. Surely you don’t actually believe Toyota and Honda’s non-fleet sales are “dozens” of times greater than Chrysler’s.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Judging by the number of $40k minivans I see in the parking lot of my office, there must be a market for high-end minivans.

        I don’t know what the minivan market looks like, but it’s fairly easy to imagine that the minivan market consists of only premium, fleet, and used/cheap buyers. If the segmentation actually looks like that, selling new Grand Caravans under a “premium” brand to individual buyers makes sense.

        Or, maybe I just don’t get out much….. :-)

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        That likely depends on where you live and if the Toyonda brands are favored there. Around here, it’s literally 20:1 in favor of the Chrysler vans, no matter the use. The Chrysler vans have a stranglehold on the minivan marker as a whole as well.

        As to Chrysler being a premium brand, they’re more premium than Dodge, however Oliver Francois has said that they don’t intend to push the Chrysler brand into premium territory like Lexus for example. I believe they’re trying to grow it as a mainstream brand.

        • 0 avatar
          Rental Man

          Toyota has the market cornered with AWD. The Northeast preffers Non American brands in nearly everything but Trucks. NJ NY CT likes leasing the Odyssey & Sienna. They also preffer them with Leather because it is a cross between Luxury and function where it is an easier cleanup. Dealers like the Leather vans as used cars because wear & Tear Abuse on cloth.

          Go to Florida and the Mopar Vans are everywhere. Some base, some loaded rental van.
          Middle America likes a $21-26000 van with long finance deals and more dealerships to service it, So you see lot’s of them out there.

          • 0 avatar

            Spot on. Here in the the leafy burbs north of NYC, you see OddySienna all over. No one who is not a tradesman or immigrant drives a Mopar Van. Go a bit north of the city, to fringe commuting range, and you see them all over. I think it is missing the target here. I recently crossed Westchester and ended up slowed by a delayed “school day” I thought I was at a car show for $60k SUV type vehicles-a long line of Q7, X5, Cayenne, Range Rover, and a few MDX holding up the bottom. Only the maid would have a mopar van in this area.

            Sad, too because my Father in law has had two of them and they are pretty indestructible. The first one had a Mitsu transaxle and the second was Chryco.

            The simple fact mama don’t wanna drive a minivan means the lacrosse gear is tossed into a truck costing twice the amount.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Sounds like an excellent area to take up carjacking and the fine art of B&E.

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        You obviously live in another, very different place than I do. The Chrysler vans sell very well here, vastly outnumbering anything else. There are a lot of Oddysey’s here, some Toyotas, but I would bet the Caravan/T&C’s outnumber all of the others combined. There are at least 3 on my (Short) street alone, all carrying kids and dogs.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I see quite the opposite–far greater numbers of *non-fleet* Chrysler Group minivans than Toyota or Honda ones. The Sienna isn’t that popular, and I can go three days or more without seeing one of those new “dustbuster-shaped” Quests. The Pentagon company could easily stop making minivans and instead capitalize on the allure of large crossovers (a la GM and, to some extent, Ford)…but Ford and GM’s minivans were absolutely horrid and they should have quit long before they did. Chrysler Group’s minivans actually focus on catering to the American lifestyle as best as possible, and at more-affordable prices than the competition. The MY2011 facelift/redesigns were superb and made them that much better. It would be a shame to see all of that minivan-making expertise go down the drain in lieu of yet another giant crossover, but if the market dries up for such vehicles, it would also be a shame to keep making them.

        I do think that Chrysler could drop the Town & Country and instead field a stylish Enclave/JX35-competitor—and charge the same money for it, too—whilst keeping the Caravan.

  • avatar
    ash78

    I’m a little disheartened by this rumor — the Dodge brand may be moving more “butch,” but the Caravan brand has a serious legacy as the first modern minivan, while the T&C is an awkwardly named offshoot of that. A compromise might be to just keep the Caravan name under the Chrysler umbrella, but that could get confusing (then again, Chrysler’s brands have frequently shifted car names between them)

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      You shouldn’t be disheartened. Chrysler dropped the entire Plymouth line, and before that, the DeSoto line, and things still went on their merry way. Dodge will stay around – just not their minivans.

      I hope that Sergio and the Fiat Board have enough presence of mind to bring to market a cheaper version of the Chrysler minivan, a niche now held by the Dodge minivan.

      And in spite of trying to position the Chrysler Division of Fiat as Premium, I don’t know if many people will actually buy into that one. Chrysler a premium brand? That may work outside of America, but in America people roll their eyes at such pretentiousness and visions of grandeur.

      It’s true that winners like the 300, 2013 RAM and 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee truly are outstanding on their own, and the sales reflect that, but there exists a much larger market of potential buyers who cannot afford to pay these jacked up prices for gussied up interiors.

      But that’s what makes America so great! We have a choice. It used to be we only had a choice of three from Detroit; bad, worse and worst. Thankfully those days are over and done with.

      • 0 avatar
        ash78

        I don’t disagree with any of that, and I’m impressed by selected parts of ChryCo’s new strategies. I’m thinking more in terms of branding. As un-sexy as it is, dropping the Caravan name is almost like dropping Cherokee from the Jeep brand entirely. It’s iconic.

        Cherokee purists will now explain to me how this already occurred with the Liberty’s intro :D

        Car sub-brands count for a lot. Taurus was finally revived by Mulally. What if Honda said “No more Accord”?

        I don’t buy into the Chrysler = Premium notion, either…in fact, I find very little differentiation between Caravan and T&C that couldn’t be accomplished with trimline adjustments in a single brand

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          ash78, one of things Fiatsler could do is to feature a minivan line aimed at the budget-conscious and name it the Chrysler Caravan and/or Grand Caravan, as opposed to their T&C as their top-of-the-line minivan.

          BTW, I own a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit as my wife’s daily driver and I’m impressed that it turned out to be on par with our 2008 Highlander Limited which used to be her daily driver.

          It’s amazing what wonders Daimler and Sergio@Fiat have done for what was once Walter Chrysler’s baby. I would recommend the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee to anyone in the market for that type of SUV/CUV, but only in the 4X4 version with the Pentastar.

          My son owns a 2012 SRT8 Grand Cherokee and it is a monster that will spin all four wheels at the same time and burn rubber for an eighth of a mile trying to get traction, or drift around a track with all four wheels slinging dirt. IOW, not for the every day commuter.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            If Sergio is intent on starving Dodge the way Plymouth was starved, a budget short bed Caravan would work as a Jeep globally, with a long bed available in NA. Once Chrysler and Fiat merge, they’ll have too many brands, especially in the mid-price field.

            With Maserati slotted to do battle with Mercedes, Alfa vs. BMW/Porsche, Fiat taking the city car niche, and Ferrari in a supercar class of its own, there’s no room at the inn for Chrysler, Dodge and Lancia to all share the mid price field: only one can survive. The Chrysler brand has more cache than the other two, and keeping it as part of the Fiat Auto Group’s name keeps the fiction that it’s still an American car company.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Lorenzo, I watched a documentary on CNBC some time ago that dealt with Sergio and his approach to managing a global auto manufacturer.

            I was impressed. Sergio is one sharp dude! Don’t let the country-boy demeanor and humble bearing lull you into believing that Sergio is a slouch. He’s not!

            I am certain that all of what we can dream up as outsiders passing judgment on Sergio’s companies, has already crossed Sergio’s mind, and if it hasn’t yet, it sure will presently.

            My guess would see an expansion of Jeep vehicles globally, even with some fancy badge-engineering under Italian nameplates, and ditto with Chrysler vehicles. That’s already happening now.

            RAM will continue, mostly in North America, but Dodge will go the way of the dodobird and Plymouth in the not-too-distant future.

            IMO there’s no need for the duplication of effort on Dodge. Like Mercury added zero to Ford, Dodge adds nothing to Fiatsler.

          • 0 avatar
            nrd515

            Sounds like a great daily driver to me! If I had big bucks, I would have one.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            As I said, I think the best solution might be for Chrysler to instead drop the Town & Country and replace it with a crossover as upscale as the Enclave and JX35, perhaps at a slightly-cheaper price, and predominantly-FWD so that it wouldn’t cannibalize the Durango’s sales. Depending on the hard points, it may even be possible to utilize the minivan platform for this, or modify it slightly. As nice as the Enclave and JX35 are, I still find them both to be awkward-looking. If Chrysler could work some of the 300′s styling magic and more-bang-for-your-buck pricing into this new crossover, it’d probably be a runaway success.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      My money is on this – you will see the new 2015 Chrysler Caravan right alongside the Town & Country. $18K T&C’s don’t make much sense, and it won’t cost them anything to have both. There aren’t any stand-alone Dodge dealers, are there?

      • 0 avatar
        yesthatsteve

        Most of ‘em got shed in the bankruptcy. An inner ‘burb near me once had stand-alone Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep dealers along a short stretch of road, all owned by the same family. All three of those franchise agreements disappeared, along with dozens and dozens of decent jobs.

        Eventually, the Dodge store was bulldozed for an IHOP, the Jeep store for a gas station, and the Chrysler store for an ALDI and Chipotle. The family now runs a small used lot further down the road.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Chrysler – upmarket vehicles only, 300-platform to build on.
    Dodge – Ram, Durango, Dakota, Charger, Challenger, Viper.
    Plymouth – Fury (formerly 200), Valiant (formerly Dart), Voyager (formerly Caravan).

    There, Chrysler, I fixed it for you.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    They’re all superfluous. Within a short amount of time, there will just be Chrysler dealers, selling Ram, Dodge, and Chrysler models. Even some very small towns have both Dodge/Ram and Chrysler dealers, and it doesn’t make any sense.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Here in Detroit, the home of giant Crysler dealerships that will finance anyone with a pulse, even on a ventilator, Jeep/Chrysler/Dodge/RAM have been combined in almost every dealership. I can’t think of a dealership around here that has only one or two Chrysler brands, besides Fiat.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I think Chrysler is creating a problem where one doesn’t exist. Minivan sales are down from their heyday, but between the GC and the T&C, Chrysler sells a whole lot more minivans than anyone else, and that’s with a product that, to put it generously, is not clearly superior to its competitors. The “Man van” package works better on the Grand Caravan than on Grandma’s Town & Country. I bet if you looked at the age demographics of the buyers for each of these vans, there would be a hump around age 30 for the Grand Caravan, and a hump over 50 for the Town & Country. It will be harder to sell both demographics with one model. After the Grand Caravan is gone,think of the buyers that will rent an entry-level Town & Country and will cross that model off their list because of a lack of features even though high-zoot models are easily available at the dealership. Seven years ago I bought a Dodge Grand Caravan instead of a Chrysler Town & Country because I liked the fake carbon fiber on the Dodge, and I didn’t like the fake wood on the Chrysler. IF the Dodge had not been available with its different interior, I likely would have bought from another manufacturer.

    • 0 avatar
      Rental Man

      Toyota has sold massive amounts of the nearly Base 8 pass Sienna LE to Rental Fleet over the years with one or no power doors. Chrysler would dump crazy amounts of loaded vans with Leather Nav & DVD players at Hertz and Avis. Only Enterprise would really buy the strippers. No one got confused with the fact that like every other car you can get these van very basic or ultra loaded when they went to the dealerships to get themselves one.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    I don’t doubt that dealers will likely (if they aren’t already) be Jeep/Dodge/Ram/Chrysler/SRT with a separate network for Fiat/Alfa Romeo/(and sometimes Maserati?).

    It seems like most new products are being redirected away from Dodge and into Chrysler, Fiat, SRT, and Alfa Romeo. What does this leave Dodge then? the Dart, Charger, Challenger, and Journey? A sports car/sedan boutique brand would make sense, but then again, the Viper has been given to SRT now. If that is the future vision of Dodge, then sure, this move makes sense. If Fiat were serious about making Dodge a mainline brand, then they should have kept the Caravan and moved the T&C to be a crossover. I think both the Chrysler name and Town and Country could have made that transformation from minivan to crossover pretty well.

    As for the bargain basement Caravan in Canada. Looks like the 500L is there to save the day! woot woot!

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I didn’t want to say this earlier, but IMO the Dodge brand, like Mercury, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn, Plymouth and DeSoto is redundant.

      Sergio can juggle production around, if he and the BoD want to, so that Dodge vehicles can be rebadged under the Chrysler brand, eliminate what is duplicated in both lines, and then drop the Dodge brand name altogether within five years, or not later than 2018.

      That’s not very far away. I remember discussions in 2009 about what Chrysler would bring to market in 2013 after it had been bailed out and pimped out to Fiat with a healthy bribe. So, five years? Sergio could restructure the entire Chrysler subdivision of Fiat and shape it to his liking (if he stays on that long).

      Problem is, people will want to retire, a dilemma that Ford will face shortly with Mulally and Fiat will also experience at some point with Sergio. Not everyone is like Iacocca and Whitacre, both who stayed active for very long.

      What we need in today’s industry is the right stuff. Not the ripe stuff.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        It appears that with announcements like this that they’re aiming to reduce redundancy, but not eliminate the Dodge brand. There are products in the pipes for Dodge, and they won’t simply be rebadged Chryslers.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      You make an interesting point. The prices of the 500L and VP Caravan are close to each other, but look at how much more vehicle you get with the van. Seems like a no brainer, and that’s likely why they sell so damned many.

      Still, the minivan market doesn’t necessarily have a bright future, as crossovers are en vogue. If you look at the market for people haulers from Chrysler, the demand hasn’t really shrunk though. They used to make the shorty Caravan, then whittled the van models down to a single wheelbase and introduced the hot selling Journey which made up for the lost SWB Caravan sales.

      So I suspect they’re going to extend that strategy now by offering a slightly different fragmented product to capture more buyers. Especially those who turn their nose up at minivans, but will gladly drive the same vehicle with more SUV like styling and conventional doors.

      • 0 avatar

        Honest question: SUV styling I get. But do people really hate sliding doors so much? What’s the problem with this kind of door? Though I’ve never had a car with this kind of door, and I’ve heard that maintenance can be required for this kind of door more frequently, I’d not hesitate for a second to buy a car with sliding doors.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          I agree, sliding doors are tremendously useful. The only problem with the concept of minivans is customer perception, they’re out of fashion. Many people have gravitated toward more trendy CUVs/SUVs in recent years, even if they are more expensive and less useful.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        I’m not sure about today, but when launched the Journey nowhere near equalled the sales of the SWB van. If memory serves, the SWB van sold almost 100,000 units per year even towards the end.

    • 0 avatar

      If the 500L can’t carry multiple hockey bags, it won’t replace the Caravan. And no, I’m not being facetious either.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Spot on.

        I think you could probably put a 500L INSIDE a Caravan, so it seems unlikely you could put 5 hockey players and their gigantic dufflebags in a 500L.

  • avatar
    donnyindelaware

    this is all crazy i hope this is not true. how can they do this and keep all there sales up give dodge the van and let chrysler have the suv if your not going to let chrysler compete with lexus and benz atleast let them compete with buick and acura they can do that im sure of it

  • avatar

    Since we’re discussing the future of Dodge here, I’ll chime in. From my perch if Dodge went away tomorrow, no big loss. The cheaper base cars could become Fiats, the mid-size to full Chrysler (minivans too), and at the very top and as a credible lux offering Alfa Romeo. The trucks would all be RAMs, the CUVs/SUVs Jeep. The Viper could be turned into a Chrysler or, just maybe, an Alfa Romeo. I don’t know if it makes any sense, but Mr. Marchionne does have a problem with all these brands. Guess we’ll all just have to wait and see.

  • avatar
    cartunez

    Problem with minivans is they lack great color choices and auto manufacturer really don’t wanna push them because they get more money from the people who should get a minivan but feel more manly in a SUV. My sons are involved in every sporting event possible and they needed the room a minivan provided – so thanks to Jack B for a great review of the T&C I drove and bought one and I love it – Great gas mileage and even with my heavy foot going from Florida to Missouri every tank fill-up took me 470 miles before I had to refill. Great ride and all the toys for 28K out the door taxes and tags

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    Let’s fill ‘Studios’ with multiple 500 iterations nobody wants and dump a well-known volume seller. Makes lots of short and long-term sense.

  • avatar
    canddmeyer

    Marchionne is making a giant mistake if the DGC goes away.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    I think this is a serious mistake. I recall reading an article published sometime after the Plymouth Voyager went away and a low-price Chrysler was cooked up to sell to the returning Plymouth customers. According to the article, a significant number of customers did not want the low-price Chrysler (or the Dodge Caravan for that matter) and instead went to Kia and Hyundai.

    I know people think they can just fold up the Dodge brand and their customers will just buy a Chrysler, but in the irrational world of brand image and customer behavior, that isn’t always the case.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    I certainly hope minivans don’t go away. I have a couple of Newfies
    (Newfoundlands for non-dog people) to haul around to shows and various types of working trials; my Ody has plenty of room for both dogs and all my gear. I runs great and gets good gas mileage–in my case a CUV or an SUV would be useless.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I had three largish dogs when I had my Caravan back in 1985 and it was a great way to cart them around. I took the back seat out and put it in the basement, it was just a place for the puppy I got the day after I bought the Caravan to hide out and eat the carpet without us noticing. Not chew it, eat it, including the sound deadener stuff. Other than some odd FWD handling issues and a total lack of power, I liked it ok. I replaced it with an ’88 S10 Blazer that at least could merge on the freeway without any drama.


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