Badge engineering! Always near the top of my search list when poking through car graveyards, obscure examples of marketing-inspired rebadgitude will jump right out from the ho-hum ranks of Elantras and LaCrosses in any yard. I haven’t managed to find a discarded Suzuki Equator yet, sad to say, but I have documented such rarities as a Mitsubishi-badged Hyundai Excel, an Isuzu-badged Chevy Colorado, and a Dodge-badged Renault 25. Today we’ll visit one of the most puzzling examples of badge-engineering history in the North American automotive marketplace: the Volkswagen Routan.
Rare Rides previously featured the last rear-drive Town & Country wagon, a model closely related to the sturdy and reliable M-body Dodge Diplomat. Today’s wagon is a sign of its times: It’s front-drive, efficient, and based on the K-car platform (like 98 percent of Chrysler’s offerings for the years 1981 through 1995).
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
In last week’s Crapwagon Garage QOTD, we combined truck and station wagon to create an SUV, picking five winners. In part VII of the series, we’ll combine truck and station wagon a bit differently and end up with a van.
That’s right, it’s time for some #vanlife (ugh). Car-based minivans also apply, so we’re not limited to things like the sweet Safari GT above.
Persistent rumors of the Chrysler Town & Country’s demise have proven true. Going further, the House of Marchionne has dug through its list of historical nameplates to pick a moniker for the minivan’s successor
Chrysler is resurrecting the Pacifica name to affix to the derriere of the next-generation people hauler, a name we last saw on the short lived three-row crossover from 2004 to 2008. Thankfully, the new Pacifica shares nothing with its earlier namesake, and only the good stuff with its Chrysler and Dodge predecessors.
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.
Several hundred Chrysler minivans are stuck indefinitely on a piece of prime Detroit real estate, unable to be transported across America. The reason? The fossil fuel boom in Canada and the United States is hogging much of the available rail capacity needed to transport the vans.
Much of the news surrounding the next-generation Chrysler minivans has involved the location of their assembly, with Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne looking to secure government funds for the new vans. The latest report from Automotive News manages to dredge up some product details on the vans themselves.
Love the website and love your reading your column. My question is I am looking to get a minivan within the next 6 months to a year. I am only looking to spend around 8 grand on one. I am leaning heavily towards Chrysler’s vans, and found some really great deals on older ones with low miles. But then I read your article about how it’s not always good to go with older, low mile automobiles. So would I be better to get say, a 2002 model Town and Country, with a little over 100 hundred thousand miles? Or should I not even bother with Chrysler at all? I was leaning towards a Windstar as well, but then there’s that whole rear axle breaking thing, and I quite enjoy living. In your personal opinion what is the best minivan for my budget.
Sajeev and Steve,
I’m almost done with my tour here in Korea and it’s time to return to “America-land.” That means it’s car shoppin’ time! So if you’ll remember, I still have my S2000 that my father-in-law’s taken care of but I don’t want to use it as a DD. And my wife wants a car of her own as well. We’re going to Ft. Huachuca, AZ and lots of road trips to TN and other lands are in our future. I want a spacious (read: wagon and AT) highway cruiser for the wife and something cheap and cheerful (read: MT) that I won’t mind baking in the AZ sun.
So here’s the ROE (rules of engagement):
Wife’s car: $30K-$40K, wagon-y, AT, luxo-ish
My DD: $10K max, MT, beater-ish