The Dodge Grand Caravan isn’t dead yet, but minivan buyers in the market for a low-end people mover will have a new option come 2020. Earlier this week, FCA announced the reintroduction of the Voyager — a nameplate that began life as a full-size Plymouth van in the 1970s before morphing into a front-drive minivan for 1984.
Following Plymouth’s death, the Chrysler brand fielded a short-wheelbase Voyager model until 2003 in North America, with Grand Voyagers (LWB Town & Countrys) serving overseas until 2016.
While FCA doesn’t intend the new Voyager to be a cheap, bare-bones stripper, it will replace the lower-rung trim levels of the Pacifica, giving fleet operators something to consider once the Grand Caravan shuffles off into the afterlife.
For the record, FCA claims the Grand Caravan will stage a return for the 2020 model year, Automotive News reports. The model’s discontinuation date is not yet set in stone.
Offered in L, LX, and LXI versions (the latter trim serving as a fleet-only model), the Voyager’s presence means the elimination of the Pacifica L and LX trims. Rumors still abound that the Pacifica will add an all-wheel drive option in the near future in the hopes of stemming the exodus of minivan buyers to the crossover realm.
What can you expect from a Voyager? Well, fleet buyers can look forward to leatherette seats, with L and LX customers receiving cloth chairs, FCA’s familiar Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 (287 horsepower, 282 lb-ft), a nine-speed automatic, a 7-inch touchscreen running the company’s Uconnect 4 infotainment system, and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
FCA’s Stow ‘n Go second-row seating will only be available to fleet buyers, where the chair-hiding feature pairs with standard remote start and rear-seat sunshades. All other buyers have access to an optional Stow ‘n Place roof rack, rear-seat DVD player (LX only), and SafetyTec Group driver-assist features. That bundle includes rear park assist with stop, blind-spot monitoring, and Rear Cross Path detection.
As for pricing, FCA’s keeping that under its hat for now. The 2019 Pacifica line starts at $28,730, with the Grand Caravan starting a couple hundred dollars lower (assuming you’re unable to wrangle big incentives from the dealer). Expect a similar, or perhaps slightly lower, floor price for a vehicle FCA bills as a “a no-compromise minivan at an unbeatable value.”
News of the nameplate’s resurrection comes on the heels of this spring’s announcement of a September shift cut at FCA’s Windsor, Ontario minivan plant. Through the end of May, Pacifica sales fell 29 percent in the United States. The Grand Caravan, which still outsells its more modern stablemate by a wide margin, saw its volume drop 15 percent in the first five months of 2019.
[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]