Dodge Grand Caravan Continues Through 2019—But Delayed for U.S.
Production will continue for Canada and Mexico, but U.S. minivans must meet new airbag regulations before returning.
It's easy to forget that the Dodge Grand Caravan still exists in the shadow of the Chrysler Pacifica, despite both minivans scoring well in J.D. Power's Initial Quality Ratings. Despite earlier rumors that the Grand Caravan would disappear after this year, Automotive News has confirmed that we will still get the Dodge at least through mid-2019. But production for the U.S. will stop for several months later this year to update the side curtain airbag system for compliance with new regulations. Originally Dodge planned to drop the Grand Caravan rather than bring it into compliance, but they seem to have changed their mind on that decision.
There is nothing wrong with the Grand Caravan's current side curtain airbags. The change is necessary to meet new federal regulations that require more window coverage, and for the airbags to remain inflated longer, to help prevent occupants from being ejected from the vehicle. Unifor Local 444 President Dino Chiodo, who represents workers at FCA's Windsor assembly plant, told Automotive News that production of Grand Caravans will not stop altogether this summer. Grand Caravans will continue to be assembled and shipped without any engineering changes to dealers in Canada and Mexico through the fall. When the design changes are ready for production, they will be implemented in all Grand Caravans for all markets.
Why does FCA keep selling the Grand Caravan when all eyes are on the Pacifica? Dreams of the Challenger SRT Demon aside, the Grand Caravan is actually Dodge's best-selling vehicle, with more than 60% of these being fleet sales. This helps the Pacifica hold its value better, as well as providing a more affordable minivan option for people or fleets who don't want to pay a premium for the more upscale Pacifica.
The Dodge Caravan is the car that saved Chrysler's bacon in the 1980s and invented a whole new type of vehicle. While the marketplace tends to shun minivans today, they're still immensely useful and practical. Though the original short-wheelbase Caravan is no longer available, it's good to see that the long-wheelbase Grand Caravan will continue on for at least another couple of years.