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. 

Granted, even during the years in which the Odyssey or Sienna led the category, the Chrysler/Dodge twins combined for superior market share. We also know that these vans are fleet favourites, assisting in the generation of volume outside of a retail environment. Moreover, competitors produce higher transaction prices, especially the Odyssey, while the Grand Caravan is geared towards value-minded family buyers.

But the news that these twins combined to finish the months of March, April, May, June, and September as the two leaders of the category is pertinent given FCA’s intentions for their Ontario-assembled vans and the recent growth in the category.

2011 Chrysler Town & CountryAfter five consecutive years of decline ending in 2009, overall minivan volume grew 7% in 2010, 3% in 2011, and 13% in 2012, then declined 4% to a two-year low last year. Minivan sales in 2014 are up 6%, meaning the category is on track for its best year since 2008, when the Odyssey’s two-year reign began.

We published a chart just last month looking at the increased market share of the twins in 2014, rising from 44% during the first eight months of 2013 to 49% this year. With three-quarters under our belt, the Town & Country and Grand Caravan now own 50% of the market, up from 45% a year ago. Town & Country volume is up 19%, a near 18,000-unit improvement. Grand Caravan sales have improved by 12,501 units, a 14% jump. Jointly, their sales are up 17% to 212,411 units, 13.7% of Chrysler Group’s year-to-date volume, up from 13.4% at this time a year ago. (Including the Ram Cargo Van, they account for 14.1% of all Chrysler Group sales.)

Resting on laurels is genuinely thought to be a bad idea. These vans are in need of an update, and their consistently held status of sales leaderboard top dogs hides the fact that so much of their appeal comes down to price. (And Stow ‘N Go!) They’re the least efficient vans in the class. Their second rows aren’t as comfortable or as spacious as the seats in, for example, the Sienna. They don’t offer eight-passenger seating.

Nevertheless, it would be easier to understand FCA’s decision to severely alter the Town & Country/Grand Caravan model structure if the trend was heading in the opposite direction, as it did in 2011, when their market share decreased to 41.7% from 45% in 2010. On the other hand, should an automaker stick to tried-and-true product plans in a category that’s declined in size by 48% over the last decade, even if that category is showing moderate signs of renewed health?

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66 Comments on “Chrysler Twins Rank First And Second Among Minivans In 2014...”


  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    On a recent trip to Florida, I rented a Grand Caravan to haul the family and their large amount of stuff around to the theme parks for a week. I have to say I was very impressed with it. The Pentastar engine had nice power for merging in traffic and we averaged 29 mpg according to the on-board computer.

    It was enough to change my hard stance on these vans. I bought a 1999 Caravan in 2001 and it was the single worst vehicle I have ever owned. It used to stall on off ramps after driving at highway speed for a 1/2 hour or more. No one could figure out the issue. That was just one of the may problems. I had much better luck with the Mazda MPV that replaced it. I swore I’d never purchase another Chrysler product after that.

    I still haven’t bought another Chrysler, but I actually considered a GC the last time we went car shopping. It must have made an impression.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Bunkerman, ANY minivan is a great family hauler — we have two in my extended family. The reality kicks in at trading time at some point down the road.

      Notice I’m not making any recommendation although I clearly have my own favorites in minivans. This is so you can do your own due diligence and research them to the extend that satisfies you to make your choice confidently both for now, and for five years down the road.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    I want to thank the minivan buyers for choosing Chrysler because, when I’m stuck behind a Pentastar, it is likely to actually get up and go when the light changes, whereas ye olde Swagger Wagon will be incapable of getting out of its own way, and Honda Odyssey drivers have a bad habit of trying to kill me. (Including the one that went airborne and flew over the hood of my Malibu.)

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Honda Odysseys can fly? Now that’s better then an AWD option ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      SpinnyD

      You certainly haven’t ever been behind me in my Seinna then, It will absolutely “get up and go”, I’m usually the one running ahead of traffic everywhere we go and that’s with 219k miles on a 2004 model. I’ll put it up against any van Chrysler or Dodge makes. And it’s way more comfortable than those awful “Stow-n-Go” torture devices ever were.

  • avatar
    Slave2anMG

    I have had several of the T&Cs as rentals lately…and by choice. They’re actually pretty darn nice vehicles for covering a lot of interstate miles. I put nearly 1,800 miles on one in less than a week, averaged nearly 28 mpg at 75+ mph including running down the West Virginia Turnpike and its hills. I like them.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    “They’re the least efficient vans in the class.”

    Really? According to whom? In the real world, we (and everyone else that owns one) gets an easy 28 mpg at extra legal freeway speeds. And I even cracked a 30 mpg average on a 1,000 mile trip on secondary roads at 60-65 mph. The best my Mazda 5 ever got on the hwy is 31-32, and the T&C is a lot more vehicle in every way.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      Official MY2015 EPA ratings:
      Quest: 20/27/22.
      Odyssey: 19/28/22.
      Sienna: 18/25/21.
      Sedona: 18/25/21.
      DGC and CT&C: 17/25/20.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        The point was ” Real World ” numbers. And yes, the DGC and CT&C has been getting better ” Real World ” MPG numbers over japanese brands.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          If there is actual data showing that the FCA minivans get better mileage, please share.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “the DGC and CT&C has been getting better ‘Real World’ MPG numbers over japanese brands.’

          Did a Toyota run over your dog or something?

          You clearly have an anti-Japanese fetish, which is the only aspect of the real world that appears in your comments on this website.

          • 0 avatar
            VW16v

            Pch. Toyota and other Japanese brands have made some good vehicles.
            But I see things as they are and do not live my life as a sheep. And think Jesus himself came down from the heavens and built every Toyota. Example Dodge and Chrysler are building vans that get more MPG then other makes as per the people posting on this topic.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            VW16v,
            If you – or anyone – has actual data (not someone’s anecdote about their mom’s minivan), actual data that contradicts the data which Tim posted, then please share.

            Otherwise, all I see are insults and hyperbole. If you don’t like the Sienna, then don’t buy one. No one is twisting your arm.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “But I see things as they are and do not live my life as a sheep.”

            Could have fooled me.

      • 0 avatar
        koshchei

        Breaking 30mpg is very easy on the GC and TC. Higher than that gets tricky though.

      • 0 avatar
        mcarr

        I don’t know why the EPA ratings on the DGC and CT&C are not higher. It seems more and more vehicles can’t achieve their EPA hwy rating in the real world going downhill with a tailwind, and here we have ones easily beat it by 10-12% with no special driving technique employed. Certainly if they could’ve gotten a better number on the EPA test they would be using that.

        Maybe Odyssey owners can chime in and let us know if they actually get 28 mpg as a regular occurrence or even beat that. I would like to know.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          We had a real-life comparison test between a ’10 Routan that my Mom owned and the ’10 Odyssey that my Great Aunt owned next door. Even with the old 4L and my Mom’s lead footed driving style there was no difference between the two.~18 around town, ~24 on a long trip. The new Pentastar is more efficient than the old 4L boat anchor by a country mile.

          I suspect that Honda’s cylinder de-activation pays dividends on the EPA test that don’t hold up in the real world, especially with any load in the van. Not sure if the ’10 had that or not, it was a fully loaded top spec example. Got traded for a new Impala, Great Aunt is a stout, short woman who had trouble climbing up into the van. A good Maine woman, as we say up here, warmth in the wintah, shade in the summah.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            The people on Fuelly aren’t seeing any magical improvement in mileage for the Pentastar. 2012 was one of the worst model years for Town & Country fuel economy.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Everyone I know who has had both sees 4-5mpg better on the highway out of the new V6. Only makes sense, much more modern engine. Not much in it around town though, maybe 1-2mpg. Which is actually not bad when you are starting in the high teens at best.

            Much depends on whether mom or dad is driving typically. Every woman I know drives like gas (and brake pads) is free, from my favorite partner in crime to my sainted Mother.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            CJinSD, the Pentastar is not all that efficient of a V6. We are lucky to get 15mpg on the highway cruising on trips in our 2012 Grand Cherokee.

            Probably all that weight holds down the mpgs. Imagine powering a fully loaded RAM 1500 with that same 305hp Pentastar V6, or a fully loaded T&C with 8 passengers as dead meat. It’s still a squirrel trying to haul an elephant around on its back.

            The beauty of the Pentastar is in the brilliant engineering and execution of its design. It is clearly the best engine that has powered the vehicles from the Chrysler subdivision of Fiatsler, ever!

            But the Pentastar has its own limitations.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            Consumer Reports saw 27mpg highway on the Sienna (FWD), T&C, GC, Sedona. The Oddy got 31mpg on their test. AWD Sienna was 25. Quest was 24. City, the Chrysler Twins drug up the rear at 11mpg. Sienna was best at 14mpg. The rest were 12 or 13. Consumer Reports numbers tend to be bookend numbers. The highway number is about the best you could ever expect and the city number is about the worst.

            So, for all the teeth gnashing, physics wins at the end of the day. All big, heavy vans get about the same mileage you’d expect out of a big heavy van.

          • 0 avatar
            mcarr

            “2012 was one of the worst model years for Town & Country fuel economy.”

            For 2013 the recommended oil for the T&C changed to 5w20 from 5w30. Not sure what changed with the engine, so I’m guessing that decision was made to improve fuel economy slightly. I know Mazda did the same trick to eek out as much mpg’s as possible.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            mcarr, the spec for the 2012 Pentastar in our Jeep Grand Cherokee was 5W-30 but I changed the oil to Castrol 10W-30, the first oil and filter change I did in my driveway.

            Did it because my wife has a lead foot and cruises at more than 85mph on the desert highways.

            The way I figure it, a little thicker oil at start up….. maybe a little less wear in toto.

            I don’t care about mpg or the price of gasoline because driving beats walking any day, IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      TCragg

      I just returned from a 4700 km trip from London, ON to Anna Maria Island, FL in my 2010 VW Routan with the old 4.0L V6. Overall fuel economy was 8.7 L/100 km (27 mpg US), and that was with A/C on, driving through the hills and mountains of KY/TN, 4 passengers, and a full load of luggage. I run Michelin Defenders at 38 PSI, and averaged 118 km/h (73 mph) on the trip. The van has 160,000 km on it. On a trip across the prairies last year, averaging 100 km/h with no AC, I saw numbers in the low-8s (over 30 MPG). I understand that the real-world economy of the Pentastar is similar to the 4.0L, with the advantage of more power and a more pleasing engine note.

    • 0 avatar
      dswilly

      Our 2012 Routan with the 3.6 gets 28+ easy on the highway @ 80mph. I was averaging 31 on a trip to Colorado and back from KC until a Eastern headwind knocked it back to 29.5 for the trip.

  • avatar
    mjz

    I think eliminating the Dodge Grand Caravan is going to be a decision they will regret later. While the new Chrysler 200 is picking up steam, it is still not selling as well as the old 200/discontinued Avenger combined did. I think this will be the case with the new minivan as well. Time will tell.

  • avatar
    Rday

    In 2002 I looked at the Dodge Grand Caravan and the Honda Odyssey. They were both priced about the same. I bought the Dodge because it was domestic. Two years later I had to sell the van to get a pickup to pull a trailer for one of my lines. I sold the Dodge with 80K on the odo for $8000. The same Odyssey with similar miles would have sold for $15K. I am very reluctant to buy domestic again after taking that beating. What a bunch of crap Dodge turned out. Ended up having to have shoulder surgery due to the arm rest in the dodge.
    Looking at a commercial van and my girlfriend says that she does not want a Ford. She had a very bad experience with them. I have owned just about every common brand and I am reluctant to buy domestic too. Too bad those assholes in Detroit feel completely comfortable screwing over the American public whenever they want to. What goes around comes around. The Japanese are deeply indebted to Detroit for making their sales growth so much easier. So are the Koreans. Who would have thought 50 years ago that greed and corruption could have brought down our auto industry so quickly. Pretty incredible.

  • avatar
    cartunez

    Yeah not sure who is grumbling about the mileage cause going from Florida to KC with 4 adults and their respective luggage we got slightly over 28 mpg with avg mph of 78.

  • avatar

    What is the point it is going to end up as a Fiat anyway.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    So like I have said for about a year now. The new direction they go may increase transaction prices a small amount however the volume will never be replaced. IMO complete idiots. If I where 30 years younger I would go back to college and become a CEO so that I can run a company in the ground and get a 40 million dollar severance package.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Subjectively, they’re not bad cars, however they are in need of an update. Maybe the availability of a 3.0L diesel, just so they could claim top fuel economy even though everyone in the real world would buy the gas engine.

    • 0 avatar
      mcarr

      I think the 3.0 diesel would be an interesting option. Honestly though, I’m looking forward to seeing what the Pentastar 3.2 and 9 speed auto will do. I’m going to bet 30+ mpg easy in real world mileage.

    • 0 avatar
      koshchei

      Since the 2011 revamp, they’ve gone from poor to excellent. :) I agree on the 3.0L diesel. They’re all made in Ontario, but only the Europeans get the 3.0.

      As fas as the need for an update, I know that it’s in the cards anyway, but the only thing that really desperately needs an overhaul is the transmission — the 62TE is reliable, but not very refined.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    For this segment, you really need to address the fleet sales. The Chrysler twins have been about half fleet (mostly rental), while Honda has virtually no fleet and Toyota keeps its fleet to about 15% or less.

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      He did mention them…If u are looking for a break out then I guess he expects you to look it up yourself.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      If the Fiat twins are only half fleet, then that means they’re selling more retail units than Honda is.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Yes. At $18K.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Which is a heck of a deal. Though real world is more like low $20s to low $30s. Having had both in the extended family at the same time, I cannot for the life of me see how the Honda is worth 2X the Caravan.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            The AVP goes for $18,995 + tt&l in my area. No foolin”. No paddin’. And no BS!

            But if you look remotely like you are doing well in life, you’ll have a very hard time getting a salesman to show you an AVP.

            If you’re young and struggling, or appear to be, that’s the first people mover they will show you at the dealership.

            Been there, done that. Both my daughter and daughter-in-law went through it before buying their minivans.

          • 0 avatar
            Chocolatedeath

            “I cannot for the life of me see how the Honda is worth 2X the Caravan.”
            Its a better van but not buy that much.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            The difference appears at trading time. Sienna and Odyssey retain a lot of their value (on paper) and facilitate buying a new one much more easily because of the greater ‘down’ (on paper).

            Buying a used Sienna or Odyssey is going to cost the potential buyer a great deal more than buying any Fiatsler minivan of that same vintage and mileage, wear and tear.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @HDC

            Only in comparison to MSRP. Which is likely pretty close to what you paid for the Honda, and fantasy land for the Chrysler. And even MORE fantasy land for the Routan back in the day. Yeah, my Aunt got $5-6K more than my Mom when the vans were traded in, but she paid *$15-16K* more upfront. And it was nicer, but not THAT much nicer, and the Honda is UGLY. I liked driving the Routan much better, the Honda was much softer. And with the revamp, all the Chrysler vans seemed to get the VW suspensions settings. Both were about the same reliability wise while they had them, a couple small warranty items each.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            krhodes1, you are right. For people who don’t have the extra to spend, the difference at buying time is very important.

            The AVP remains an excellent value.

            I haven’t needed a minivan but my daughter and daughter-in-law do.

            After their due diligence, and actually looking at the T&C before committing to the separate brands they bought, I think each bought what they were most comfortable with, or had a great ownership experience with.

            Then again, with the Takata air-bag malfunction problem that has permeated the auto industry, who knows what kind of experience they will have now, should that airbag have to deploy for any reason.

  • avatar
    nguyenvuminh

    This is why I check into TTAC, the only auto website that has a healthy discussion about minivans. I personally love them, if only there were more smaller versions out there. Regardless, these things are great in terms of flexibility, practicality, etc. with the minor exception of fuel economy. It’s not very good for a practicality-oriented vehicle. I like the Odyssey and Siennas more than the TC but they’re definitely not worth twice as much.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    The wife has about 3500 miles on her 2014 Odyssey Touring Elite. No issues so far, other than that I wish she’d take it to the car wash now and then.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Tom Kreutzer has a van like that! He could give us a status update if he still worked here.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      What happened?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Dunno, he disappeared just like Steve Lang, Winston, Caroline, and Brendan. And Mark Stevenson, whatever he wrote.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Yeah, a number of contributors and commentors have disappeared from ttac. I noticed that some time ago and made mention of it.

          Could it be that (gasp) ttac is falling out of favor with the B&B!???????????

          Say it ain’t so, Joe!

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I could see a parting of the ways for one or two folks for whatever reason, but methinks somethings up.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I think it has more to do with relations between this site/authors and parent Auto Guide. That’s clearly why Jack is on the way out as well. And why Alex left.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I’m speculating here, but it could just be that ttac is seeking a new direction of ‘truth’.

            That happens to any entity, business or other venture periodically when they try to reassert themselves in a market or re-establish themselves as the pre-eminent authority in some specialty, venture or niche.

            It could also be that Derek and boys and girls at ttac are more closely aligning themselves with the theorists of the academic world and back-room bean counters rather than the gnarly, crusty centurions who actually do/did battle in the arena of the practical real world.

            I don’t know, but I prefer the battle-hardened real-world warriors. And when my reading experience at ttac becomes less than orgasmic, I too, shall remove it from my “must-read” list.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @hdc

            I see it as somebody somewhere in the organization needs to stop being a prick.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            @28

            Agree, someone over at AG has a personality issue.

            @HDC
            Not that I’m saying ALL of those contributors lost were super valuable. Some of them didn’t have much to say.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            CoreyDL, I’m of the mind that EVERYONE’s contribution and comments should be heard even if they are offensive to some.

            People can disagree without being disagreeable.

            It all boils down to the same facts in most cases, but different interpretation.

            You know, like the stock market – one party decides it’s time to sell a stock, another party decides it’s time to buy it.

            Same facts, different interpretations.

      • 0 avatar
        Daniel Latini

        I can’t say what happened with Kreutzer for sure, but I’m guessing life just got busy for him (he was in the process of moving earlier this year). He was contributing to motorcycle.com pretty regularly up through the summer, but even that has dropped off.

        I do miss his perspective.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Me too. His were stories worth reading, especially on a slow Sunday morning over a breakfast on the Patio in the shade of a couple of huge Elm trees.

          That’s my kind of Nirvana.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    @28-cars, You may very well be right. But I did notice this alarming trend set in right after JB left. I suspected that were changes in the wind, like someone had cut the cheese in a crowd but you didn’t know who.

    We all should keep in mind that ttac is now a “for-profit” venture owned by VerticalScope.

    It’s all about the money. And if the opinions and factual experiences expressed on this site are too graphic for the comfort of the sponsors, it will mean less revenue for the owners.

    It’s all about the money.

  • avatar

    In the summer of 2013 my wife was in an accident. The other guy’s insurance co. got us a basic Grand Caravan, which we took on vacation for about 10 days. My daily driver is a 2002 Z28 6-speed, and wow, I could not believe the power, handling, and economy of the GC. So this August I bought a 2014 GC-AVP. Could’ve gone with an SXT, but we tend to be happy with base models.

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