By on February 5, 2019

At this point in history, minivans have become an acquired taste. Just like fine scotch and the silkiest of smooth jazz, there are those who appreciate the minivan and those who don’t — likely due to some tragic flaw within their genetic makeup.

However, Fiat Chrysler still gets the minivan and, as a reminder to normal people everywhere that they also still sell them, has seen fit to release celebratory editions of the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan. Proud to issue a refresher that Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly Plant gave the world its first modern minivan back in November of 1983, both of FCA’s family haulers receive special 35th Anniversary Edition models for 2019.

Granted, the math isn’t perfect. But you can’t waste time celebrating a segment that’s only slightly healthier than your average retirement home resident. 

The 35th Anniversary edition adds some unique badging and all-black leather interior with “Cranberry Wine” contrast stitching. If you purchase the Pacifica Touring L, FCA will also include 18-inch wheels, a memory driver’s seat, and an overhead DVD player from the Mopar catalog.

Though you can always step up the trim line to get the Touring Plus’ dual-pane sunroof and memory driver’s seat, or hop into the Limited for a set of bigger wheels. Hybrid models receive smaller wheel options, but the special edition incorporates FCA’s Premium Audio Group — adding a baker’s dozen of Alpine speakers and Uconnect 4C with navigation and a 8.4-inch display.

However, those interested in the present-day classic that is the Dodge Grand Caravan will be pleased to learn it receives some unique upgrades of its own. Special 35th Anniversary Edition Models receive a gleaming chromed grille and 17-inch aluminum wheels in addition to the special badging and seats materials.

SE trims also receive “Stow ‘N Go” second-row bucket seats and a diver’s chair with power adjustments, while SXT Caravans bundle in the Driver Convenience Group package (heated front seats, heated steering wheel, second-row window shades) and adds navigation.

FCA’s blacked-out S Appearance package can be added to any 35th Anniversary Edition Pacifica or Pacifica Hybrid. However, the same cannot be said for the Grand Caravan, as it comes with that sparkly new grille.

Alright, so there really isn’t much going on here outside of the badging. However, depending on how these special editions are priced, you might be picking up equipment packages at a discount. These could also make for neat collectors cars for those uninterested in seeing a return on their initial investment. The 35th Anniversary Edition Pacifica and Grand Caravan are said to begin arriving in dealerships this summer, with pricing to come shortly beforehand.

[Images: FCA]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

55 Comments on “Fiat Chrysler Celebrates 35 Years of the Minivan...”


  • avatar
    JimC2

    Bring back the carbureted 2.2 for a limited availability special anniversary edition!!

    I should start one of those wethepeople dot org petitions, har har.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      And the five-speed manual!

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      And the faux wood trim!

    • 0 avatar
      Conslaw

      I think a lot of the negative feelings toward minivans today stem from the 2.2 and 2.5 liter Chrysler days. 100 horsepower with a 3-speed automatic transmission made those vans slow. Today’s vans, all of which have at least 250 horsepower and at least 6 speeds on their transmissions, aren’t slow at all.

      • 0 avatar
        MrIcky

        The 2.2 and 2.5 engines are not at all what created negative feelings. Minivans sold very well back then and were pretty well loved even with the anemic engines. The negative feelings are because they simply aren’t cool. Parents want family haulers that don’t make people assume they have a family, or at least that they do something ‘lifestyle’ beyond parenting.

        At least that’s my opinion based on my observations.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Probably correct regarding ‘image’. However endemic transmission problems with the Chrysler product warned off many a buyer/return customer.

          Since the development and tooling costs associated with producing the Grand Caravan are long since amortized, why doesn’t FCA spend some money on better parts and a better warranty? If buying a GC came with greater ‘peace of mind’ I believe that they would attract far more consumers. Even if it meant increasing the MSRP slightly.

          • 0 avatar
            EGSE

            Those Ultraglide automatics sure gave Chrysler a black eye. While it was probably underdesigned for it’s use, there’s anecdotal evidence that changing the transmission fluid regularly usually resulted in trouble-free ownership. I do it on the 4R70W in my Ford truck as well as the many Torqueflites I had.

            At one time a major manufacturer of electronic test equipment bought fleets of Dodge minivans for their field reps. I thought it was an odd choice but the reps liked them. When a rep took me to lunch he explained they received “severe service” maintenance, whatever that is. After three years and about 120k miles the vans were swapped out and sold to their employees who were on a waiting list. The transmissions never gave them any trouble while the reps drove them; I’m thinking a drain/fill must have been part of the service.

            Friends who believed in the “lifetime fluid” fiction got 75-90k before the tranny gave it up and as you pointed out Chrysler usually lost them as a customer.

      • 0 avatar

        Don’t forget the 2.6L Mitsubishi 4-banger! My parents first minivan was a blue ’85 Caravan that had that motor. It was followed by the ’88 Grand Voyager, ’98 T&C, and ’02 T&C. After that all the kids were out of the house and a minivan was no longer necessary.

  • avatar
    jatz

    The perfect car in its original form factor. Now dying from obesity in solidarity with its original buyers.

  • avatar
    NoID

    I’ve always loved the copy/paste front end on the first gen.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I’ve got to hand it to Lee Iaccoca, despite his faults at least twice in his life he nailed the right product at the right moment, the Mustang and the Dodge Caravan. The funny thing about these two great successes is that people didn’t even know they wanted them. I think that’s the truest success in the auto industry, give the people what they don’t even know they want

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Don’t forget the Lincoln Mark Series…

      Ford LTD…

      Granada and it’s silly marketing…

      Heck let’s look at the Mustang II, we make fun of it but danged if it didn’t sell like hotcakes.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        True on all accounts, but others were already making a “personal luxury coupe” when they came out with the Mark III

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        The Mustang II, that gave its front suspension and rack and pinion to countless street rods and other project cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Masterofalltimespaceanddimension, sort of

        Amen.For as maligned as the Mustang II was/is, it guaranteed the survival of the Mustang. Even as a place-holder. The Mustang had grown into a nearly Torino-sized car that lost nearly everything that made it special. People forget, or did not know that the 1974 Mustang II doubled the sales of the 1973 Mustang.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      Those “Lightning in the Bottle” moments are definitely hard to reproduce. How many vehicles were big successes like the Mustang; creating a whole new class – the pony car – from out of thin air. Or the Minivan; no one knew they needed a smaller FWD version of the big ol’ full-framed thing.

      And going back to the 70s- who knew that massive coupes like the Monte Carlo or the Lincoln Mark series (among many) would be a thing?

    • 0 avatar
      kefkafloyd

      There’s also the K-car, which the minivan owes a part of its existence. A nice Reliant automobile!

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    currently renting a new pacifica and traveling long distance, i have made a few notes as to why i would not buy one as my next family car.
    the most frustrating thing is the center vagueness while at highway speed. it reminds me of my truck rentals, a little. i am always swinging the wheel left or right to catch the drifting and that little nothingness bothers me.
    noise. i hate noise. and for a rather loud guy, having my wife in the rear chair always asking me what i just said angers me.
    controls. controls should be intuitive. i should not have to risk my life with a drifting van searching for where the temp buttons are…and then have the fan sloooowwwly change speeds.
    nothing is where it should be or is hidden inside somewhere…just clicks away.
    and why is the ignition button SO CLOSE to the radio volume nob!!>?

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      How how different peoples’ impressions can be of the same vehicle. I similarly rented a Pacifica for a long highway haul and came away quite smitten. Awesome highway mile eater that held the road well, and I don’t recall excessive road/wind noise, just the sweet scream of that Pentastar on onramps.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        gtem

        ” just the sweet scream of that Pentastar on onramps.”
        OMG!
        Please…the only screams I heard were from my wife, which is normal.
        The 6 doesn’t scream…just is always trying to please the tranny late and often panicky and over gear jumping decisions.

    • 0 avatar
      Chetter

      The only thing that irks me is I think the transmission dial is too close to the radio volume dial. Otherwise I think they did a good job with the ergo-dynamics.

    • 0 avatar
      lost1

      I have owned an 2018 Pacifica for a year now and I do not have any “center vagueness”, the vehicle very quiet, perhaps the on board noise suppression is drowning out your “loudness”. If you take time to read the owners manual or take a good look at the area under the beautiful high res. display you will find manual temperature and fan controls that can be adjusted without taking your eyes off the road. The ignition button is nowhere near the radio volume dial.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      We rented a sedan one time visiting my MiL and it happened to be the same make/model as what she had. The rental was all over the road while hers was not. I suspect the rental had hit a curb or something and was out of alignment.

      Did your Pacifica not have the radio controls on the back of the steering wheel?

      I only drove one with the big screen and everything was intuitive with that one, but the dial shifter could have had a better placement.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        never had an issue with the radio as i never used. the only comment on this was the location of the engine button next to it.my van is relatively new at 5.600 miles.
        lots of tire noise from the front wheels.
        i have owned perhaps 5 minivans through the years. loved them for family utility.
        i like this one…just would not buy it as my next car.
        i am hooked on power and driving standards.

  • avatar
    jatz

    ” Iaccoca, despite his faults at least twice in his life he nailed the right product at the right moment”

    And he nailed them at opposite ends of the 18-34 demo, often for the same people.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Flawed as they might be in certain quality metrics, my wife and I found that FCA vans still had the ‘special sauce” features and overall feel that set them apart from others in the running. A removable front seat center console (to create a pass through to the back seats) while still retaining functional cup holders in the dash, the stow and go seats, the upright ergonomics and handsomely styled dash ended up winning us over.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      My Millennial boss’s wife is a minivan-ophobic of the highest order, and yet thanks to her impressions of her sister’s vehicle, a Pacifica is near the top of her list when the lease on her Journey comes to an end. (They needed a quick and cheap replacement for an Acadia with a bad timing chain and a bunch of other things that came up at once.)

      With a third child on the way in just a couple weeks, something like this will give them a wider range of options to carry the entire family. (I don’t know if their oldest daughter is into a booster seat yet, but having sat in the back seat of his GMT900 Avalanche a couple weeks ago with two seats stuffed in there, that’s gonna be tight any way you cut it. Their oldest can sit in the third row of the Journey, but then the cargo-carrying ability goes to nothing without a roof carrier.)

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    This brings back the memories – my best friend in HS was a year older than me so got his driver’s license before I did. So I spent many a months riding around in his brother’s borrowed 1968 Cadillac. That boat was a beast and, compared to the slo-pokes of the 80s, felt kinda quick. Or at least with a big fat torque which gave the impression of speed.

    But those days passed when he showed up at my house in a new gold /& wood-sided Dodge Caravan that his parents bought. It was a real letdown compared to the Cadillac. Going to the school dances in that wasn’t quite the same thrill.

    Eventually he got his own car, a 340 powered Valiant that was a real sleeper for the era.

  • avatar
    jatz

    “FCA will also include 18-inch wheels”

    And the kidz inside have sleeve tats and XX-Large Nike sweats that don’t need the drawstrings.

  • avatar
    PM300

    I am a childless 30 year old and I’ll admit the “blacked out” Pacifica’s make me look twice. A coworker just crossed 230k miles on an 09 Town and Country with the 3.8 boat anchor motor. Original owner/original engine; they change the oil every 10-15k miles with Amsoil and generally maintain the car to spec at the dealership or Belle Tire. The trans needed a rebuild around 180k (under warranty; RIP to the Chrysler unlimited mileage warranties) but other than that the body has held up well, the interior doesnt seem that worn. I’m always impressed how well it has held up.

    • 0 avatar
      d4rksabre

      Childless 32 year old here. My parents have been buying Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth vans since their first Plymouth Grand Voyager in 1997. Between them and my brother and I there have been, let me count on my fingers here, 6 vans of various generations. All of them were/are excellent vehicles.

      I should note that my father thinks his ’17 Pacifica is the worst of the bunch. It’s not bad, but he says it handles like crap compared to the 2001 T&C he was driving before that. Vans have gotten a little bloated.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        I am the opposite. I think the Pacifica rides and drives better than any generation of minivan my parents had, and they started at the beginning 35 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

      That unlimited mileage powertrain warranty is the biggest reason why my folks are still holding onto their ’07 Town & Country. I expected the transmission to drop out well before now – as it had on one of their two prior Chrysler minivans – but it’s still hanging in there at 130K.

  • avatar
    Chetter

    Dad had an ’89 Voyager, a ’91 Grand Voyager and a ’97 Town and Country. Never thought I’d have one until the 3rd kid arrived. Now I’m a proud owner of a ’17 Pacifica. Great car.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    I’m definitely NOT on ‘team minivan’ by any means. That said, with the overall design language and the blackout trim, the Pacifica is about as attractive a minivan as one can hope for. If FCA ever gets a Chrysler CUV based on it, or the defunct 200 that captures this styling, theyd have a winner.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’ve been a registered minivan fan since 1996, when we got our 96 Grand Voyager with the 3.3 4-spd auto. It was awesome for 9 years, then died of a mysterious electrical fault.

    #2: 05 Odyssey – terrible, ended with a lemon law suit in less than 2 years.

    #3: 98 Grand Caravan – 3.8 4-spd auto. It was old when I got it for cash, it served its purpose for 3 years, then it *also* died of a mysterious electrical fault.

    #4: 09 Sedona – best of the bunch. I’m trying to keep it for another 4 years if I can. It is essentially a truck with a covered 8-ft bed, which can tow and haul 7 people if needed.

    But alas, I have little interest in special-edition vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      My parents’ 1996 Grand Caravan (their third and final Chrysler minivan) had wonky electricals from new. I remember the wipers would cycle on their own every other time we passed an 18-wheeler. Alas it died ~60k from stripped splines at the torque converter input leaving them stranded in the outskirts of Baltimore hours from home. They had it repaired and only drove it long enough for their Honda dealer to get in another 99 Odyssey when those came out.

      I do recall their brand-new 1984 Plymouth Voyager LE “Magic Wagon” in metallic brown w/woodgrain over 2-tone brown vinyl interior. Since 1984 was the first model year, that’s why the 2019s are the 35th anniversary despite the late 1983 launch.

      They also had a 1990 Chrysler Town&Country, the first year of those. It was a VERY early model and still had the Mitsu 3.0 V6 instead of the Chrysler 3.3 that most received. It was a nice van until the shop that replaced the timing belt indexed the cams wrong.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    Strange Van sighting…..
    On The Big Bang Theory, Wolowitz and Leonard went shopping for a minivan and came back with a Lancia Caravan (it had the wankel shape emblems on it)
    It’s a badge engineered Dodge Caravan but says Lancia and was mostly available in Italy.
    I guess Chrysler would not cough-up for product placement.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      https://www.imcdb.org/vehicle_971671-Chrysler-Town-and-Country-2011.html

      Yep it looks like someone put the badges on, unless it was filmed in Europe.

      In continental Europe (not just Italy), the Voyager and 300 were sold as Lancia.

      Whereas in the UK and Ireland, Lancias (Ypsilon and Delta) were sold as Chryslers.

  • avatar
    RS

    I like my 2014 T&C better than the Pickups I’ve had. I only tow the 14′ boat and aluminum utility trailer these days and it does that with no issues. It’s a lot easier getting stuff in and out of the back too. Stow-n-go is awesome.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    The first mass produced US vans were all minivans. The Dodge A100, the Ford Econoline, the Chevrolet Greenbrier and the Chevy Van that replaced it were all dimensionally small vans on short wheelbases that were based on the mechanical components of the big-3s 1960-introduced compact cars. The exception was the Chevy Van, which was based on the Chevy II compact that was a reaction to the Falcon’s success. Over time all the vans grew and their mechanical components were uprated, which has since happened to the so-called minivans too. I’m surprised Dodge never made a 15-passenger Caravan.

  • avatar
    threeer

    (almost) proud owner of a 2016 CG. Not the sexiest, but our adopted daughter participates in showing dogs. Three dogs, all of their gear, three people and luggage, etc…the Chrysler product with the stow-n-go middle seat is a life-saver. It’s the R/T variant, so heated leather front and middle seats (and heated steering wheel, no less), a few nice styling touches with the grey rims and the decent punch of the engine make for a nice highway hauler. That said, I’m dealing with mechanical issues, having already replaced the camshaft and rollers (the dreaded 3.6 engine “tick”) and now it’s in the shop again for severe rough idle/acceleration and near-stalling. I want to truly love the thing, really…I do. It can move things that no SUV/CUV can, and I’m over the need to “look cool” by driving a less-competent SUV (my best friend’s wife steadfastly refuses a mini-van because of the stigma). I just hope it doesn’t completely fall apart on me, as it is critical to our family.

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    The front end of that original Caravan, maybe it’s the photo, but it makes it look like they had designed the lights and grille, but it was so tall they were left with a big gap, so they just mirrored the lights and grille again.

  • avatar
    ceipower

    Where’s the fake woodgrain? Pretty dull anniversary with no woodgrain.
    Cowards!

  • avatar
    thegamper

    My family had one of these, Plymouth Voyager actually. I believe it was the most despised car my family had ever owned. I am guessing it had a base engine as I do recall my father saying it was a 4 cylinder. In any event, I think it was broken more often than running and was traded shortly after for an Chevy Astro.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • mcs: “) attempts to separate the person behind the wheel from the driving experience as much as...
  • mcs: So, the gas stations that can’t maintain tire pumps are going to suddenly be able to keep up several...
  • Steve Biro: I still think, deep down, that EVs are an interim solution… with the real goal being hydrogen. I...
  • Lie2me: Don’t look now, but I think I saw a commie under your bed. Better run
  • Lie2me: That’s called the “Chicago Express” get into the far left lane, hook bumpers with the guy...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber