Back From the Grave: Grand Caravan Name to Live On - for Some, Anyway
In the Stephen King novel Pet Cemetery, a rural family discovers that burying the body of a dead pet (and later, larger mammals) in the old graveyard out back returns the deceased family member to the clan — miraculously reanimated, yet fundamentally changed.
That seems to be what Fiat Chrysler has in mind for a famously long-running nameplate.
Dodge’s Grand Caravan ceases production in Windsor, Ontario in August, ending an uninterrupted run that began back in 1987, when the model appeared as a long-wheelbase variant of the new-for-1984 Caravan. But it’s not really dying — it’s just switching brands.
Late Thursday, Chrysler Canada announced that, for 2021, the vehicle Americans know as the Chrysler Voyager (speaking of resurrection…) will arrive on Canadian shores as the 2021 Chrysler Grand Caravan.
Both the Voyager, which landed in the U.S. for 2020, and Grand Caravan are nothing more than low-end Chrysler Pacificas spun off as their own models, leaving the higher-end minivan to woo more affluent shoppers. It’s almost endearing that FCA wants to keep a minivan hierarchy alive. Certainly, the Dodge Grand Caravan remained popular even as it neared the end of its life, if for no other reason than its stubbornly depressed entry price and endlessly usable (but terribly unsexy) features.
“We’re incredibly proud to maintain the ‘Grand Caravan’ nameplate exclusively in the Canadian marketplace,” said FCA Canada CEO David Buckingham in a statement. “Particularly here in Canada, that name has become synonymous with affordable, safe and innovative family transportation that the 2021 Chrysler Grand Caravan builds upon.”
Running away from Dodge and into the comforting arms of Chrysler is a longstanding tradition in Canada, as up here, buyers knew the Dynasty as a Chrysler model. While U.S. consumers were still buying the Dodge Neon back in 2000, Canucks were feasting their eyes on the new Chrysler Neon (2000-2002), which later morphed into the annoyingly named Chrysler SX 2.0 (2003-2005).
Arriving in the third quarter of this year, the reborn Grand Caravan comes in, go figure, base and SXT trims, with the obligatory 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and a nine-speed automatic. Pacifica niceties like a third-row Stow ‘n Go split bench and available Stow ‘n Go second-row chairs. Standard spec sees the Grand Caravan with a two-person second-row bench; eight-passenger seating is optional.
While base-model buyers have access to a standard 7-inch touchscreen running FCA’s Uconnect 4 infotainment system, hands-free communication, keyless entry with driver’s door proximity key, and heated side mirrors, they’ll have to live with wheel covers. SXT customers see their 17-inchers cast in aluminum, with the addition of front and rear LED reading lights, removable second-row chairs, tri-zone climate control with rear A/C and heat, and a power driver’s seat.
A suite of driver-assist nannies remains optional for both trims, keeping MSRPs distant enough from the Pacifica. The L and LX trims should disappear from the Pacifica lineup for 2021, with the Grand Caravan slotting below the newly upscale model at $37,995 to start (yes, we’re talking $Canada$ here) and $39,995 for the SXT. A 2020 Pacifica L retailed for $39,995 after destination, to give you an idea of where the Grand Caravan’s doing business.
[Images: FCA Canada]
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