By on September 14, 2017

FCA Windsor minivan assembly Dodge Grand Caravan 2011 - Image: FCA

Fiat Chrysler will idle production of both the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan for over a month in autumn. But with the latter model seeing impressive sales in the United States last month, can FCA afford to hit “pause” on assembly?

Not really, but that doesn’t matter — the Grand Caravan has to meet updated U.S. safety standards if Dodge wants to keep selling them. Unfortunately, FCA only has a 19-day supply of the minivan in reserve after an exceptional August depleted inventories. On the flip side, Chrysler’s objectively good but slower-selling Pacifica has a 108-day vehicle surplus. Wait, that’s also bad news.

At least the line workers at FCA’s Windsor Assembly Plant have have some time off to look forward to.  (Read More…)

By on September 14, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe Grande sliding doors - Image: Chevrolet, FCA, The Truth About CarsWould a minivan with all-wheel drive, added ground clearance, and wheel arch cladding ever stand a chance of being called an SUV?

It’s not so far-fetched. There was a time when the Subaru Outback was perceived as nothing more than a wagon, but times changed.

What about the other way around: does the Chevrolet Tahoe Grande’s sliding doors necessitate a minivan designation for America’s top-selling full-size SUV? In other words, is a full-size SUV with sliding doors no longer an SUV?  (Read More…)

By on September 5, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey - Image: HondaIt’s all about product, they say.

Product, product, product.

When in doubt, add product.

New product, they say, will reinvigorate the American midsize sedan category. New product, one might have imagined, would provide an ample boost to America’s minivan segment.

Yet in August 2017, only the third month on the market for Honda’s fifth-gen 2018 Odyssey, overall minivan sales increased for just the second time in a year despite another sales decline from that very same new product, the Honda Odyssey.
(Read More…)

By on August 22, 2017

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Limited - Image: ChryslerEight years ago, American consumers, businesses, and governments acquired only 10.4 million new vehicles.

Sound like a lot? The U.S. auto industry generated an average of 16 million new vehicle sales in the five years leading up to 2009; 16.3 million annually over the last half-decade.

With the overall market’s collapse, it’s not surprising to hear that very few minivans were sold. Claiming only 4.3 percent of the industry’s volume, minivans collected only 448,000 sales.

At the current rate of decline through 2017’s first seven months, this year won’t be quite that bad. But it’s on track to be almost that bad, and the worst year since. (Read More…)

By on July 19, 2017

2014 Fiat 500L Exterior-003

Each week, TTAC’s basic car correspondent Matthew Guy brings you an Ace of Base article. Matt’s carefully selected examples are base models which tick many desirability boxes, proving you don’t need thousands of dollars in engine upgrades, brakes, pieces of trim, or tech packages to have good and enjoyable transportation. Overall, the Ace of Base series is positive and uplifting, presenting us with the best of the best of base. The other half of the basic coin is being ignored, however, and that’s where you come in.

Today we seek your nominations for the new vehicle which best represents a Waste of Base. 

(Read More…)

By on January 11, 2017

2015 Dodge Grand Caravan red Detroit skyline

(Update: A previous version of this story stated that the Honda Odyssey was the top-selling minivan in the U.S. in 2016. The number one spot actually goes to the Toyota Sienna.)

After being granted a stay of execution, the Dodge Grand Caravan’s hazy, undefined lifespan remains a controversial topic in Auburn Hills.

The Moses of minivans continues to trundle off Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Windsor, Ontario assembly line, alongside its far-more-advanced Chrysler Pacifica stablemate. Compared to the tech-laden Pacifica, the venerable Grand Caravan offers an acceptable level of content at a lower price point, and its reprieve was in keeping with FCA’s tendency to keep money-making models around for extended periods of time. Together, the two models span the segment’s price range.

The unavoidable question for FCA is: how long can the Grand Caravan stay in the lineup? (Read More…)

By on November 14, 2016

FCA Windsor minivan assembly Dodge Grand Caravan 2011 - Image: FCA

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Windsor, Ontario, minivan factory will reportedly suspend Dodge Grand Caravan production in mid 2019.

Seats delivered from Magna International’s Integram Seating facility to the minivan assembly plant will no longer be delivered as of July 2019, according to a letter sent from Magna to Unifor. Automotive News Canada suggests that the Grand Caravan will be replaced by a crossover.

Budget priced, the Dodge Grand Caravan is currently America’s best-selling minivan. Together, the Grand Caravan and its Chrysler siblings own 45 percent of the U.S. minivan market. On its own, the Grand Caravan generates 56 percent of all Canadian minivan sales. (Read More…)

By on September 15, 2016

2017 minivans Quest Sedona Caravan Pacifica Odyssey SiennaA long ways from the 1.1 million minivans sold in 2005, U.S. sales of sliding-door people carriers are on track to rise to a nine-year high of more than 600,000 units in calendar year 2016.

Through the first eight months of 2016, year-over-year minivan volume is up 19 percent in the United States, though an industry-wide slowdown stalled the minivan sector’s expansion in August.

More than a year after a plant shutdown in Windsor, Ontario, enabled retooling for a new generation of Chrysler MPV product — and severely cut into fleet sales — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles currently owns 45 percent of the American minivan market, up from 33 percent in the first eight months of 2015.

A portion of the credit for FCA’s resurgence belongs to the all-new Chrysler Pacifica, a direct Town & Country replacement that we’re testing this week. After forming only 25 percent of Chrysler brand sales at this stage of 2015, minivans are suddenly responsible for half of all volume at the fading Pentastar brand. (Read More…)

By on September 1, 2016

2017 Jeep Wrangler boasts LED headlamps.

Upgrades are coming to several Fiat Chrysler Automobiles models, with the automaker announcing it will ditch some of the worst headlights in the industry.

No previously unannounced products are mentioned in FCA’s 2017 model year changes, but many models will receive new equipment. In the case of the Dodge Grand Caravan, which soldiers on in the shadow of the new Chrysler Pacifica, the new year comes with a new price. (Read More…)

By on August 18, 2016

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, Canada (May 16, 2014) - An all-new Nissan Micra has returned to the Canadian landscape. This is a fun car, packed with details and more value than what is available in other small cars in the market. Its key attributes were on display in Montreal as the brand hosted a welcome-back event for the car., Image: Nissan Canada

Grits and poutine aren’t the only divisions betwixt us.

Celine Dion and two-year election campaigns aren’t the only factors that enable Europeans to tell us apart.

Catastrophic illness-induced bankruptcy and wait-time-fostering universal healthcare aren’t the only hallmarks of our unique approaches to public policy.

There are wildly divergent vehicular tastes between the United States and Canada, as well. (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2016

sinkhole

Sinkholes, nature’s version of the Morlocks, are fascinating and scary things. They appear out of nowhere, swallowing up homes and vehicles like a muddy repossession agent.

A massive sinkhole currently devouring a major downtown street in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, caused commuter chaos, ruptured a water and gas main, flooded a partly constructed underground LRT station, and took the life of an innocent Dodge Grand Caravan.

The model might have been spared by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, but this vehicle wasn’t. Ottawa was last in the sinkhole news in 2012, when a man (and his Hyundai Accent) was gobbled up by a malevolent freeway.

Let this be a lesson to all drivers: the Earth is hungry.

See video of the meal after the break. (Read More…)

By on May 19, 2016

2016 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT Plus

Production of the world’s most recognizable minivan might not end next year after all.

If a report published by the Windsor Star is correct, the Dodge Grand Caravan will see its lifespan extended until 2019, all thanks to delayed plans for a Chrysler Pacifica-based crossover.

The Star quotes John McCabe, president and CEO of AutoForecast Solutions, who claims Fiat Chrysler Automobiles got cold feet about building a new crossover at its Windsor assembly plant. (Read More…)

By on December 22, 2015

30th_Anniversary_Minivan_Windsor_Assembly_Plant

So I got up behind a Dodge Grand Caravan the other day and I started thinking about my youth. This is because, in my youth, the Dodge Grand Caravan was an acceptable vehicle to drive, and not something you were stuck with when Enterprise ran out of full-size sedans.

There are two reasons for this: 1. Back in the day, the Dodge Caravan didn’t really have any competitors, so we didn’t really know that there were better options out there. Honda had the hinged-door Odyssey. Toyota had the weird-ass Previa. It was a mess; more importantly, 2. There were so many different versions of the Dodge Caravan that you were pretty much stuck buying a Dodge Caravan even if you actively avoided buying a Dodge Caravan.

(Read More…)

By on March 6, 2015

2014_Dodge_Grand_Caravan_RT_1198940

Although the Chrysler Town & Country will be FCA’s main minivan nameplate going forward, the Dodge Grand Caravan will stick around longer than many people have expected.

(Read More…)

By on October 20, 2014

2015 Dodge Grand CaravanOnly twice in the last six years have one of the Chrysler Group’s minivans been America’s top-selling minivan. America’s best-selling minivan in 2008 and 2009 was the Honda Odyssey, which also led the segment in 2013. The Toyota Sienna was America’s best-selling minivan in 2011.

Yet through the first nine months of 2014, not only is the Chrysler Town & Country America’s top-selling minivan, but its twin, the Dodge Grand Caravan, ranks second in the class, 8431 sales ahead of the third-ranked Odyssey. The Chrysler and Dodge haven’t finished a calendar year as the two top-ranked minivans since 2005.  (Read More…)

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