Known as the industry-standard for the minivan class, the Dodge Grand Caravan has been a staple in the family household for over three decades. While today’s model is packed with several modern advancements to fit every family lifestyle, every iteration before it came with a handful of innovations that helped propel the Grand Caravan forward to the vehicle it is today. Take a look below to explore the history of one of Dodge’s most prolific family vehicles.
First Generation (1984–1990)
In the beginning, the Dodge Grand Caravan came in only three trim levels: the base, SE and LE (quite the contrast from the eight we have today). The first iteration of the Grand Caravan seated up to seven people and came with two front bucket seats included. Meanwhile, it featured two bench seats in the rear, which were independently removable with the option to add a larger three-person bench to let you seat up to eight people total.
Second Generation (1991–1995)
As the Grand Caravan increasingly gained popularity in North America, it left the Mitsubishi-manufactured and imported Dodge Colt Vista out in the cold and was no longer imported into the continent after the second generation hit the market in 1991. This other early iteration of the Grand Caravan included new features like “Quad Command” bucket seats, improved recliners and child safety seats, anti-lock brakes, all-wheel drive (for the first time ever on a minivan), and it was also the first vehicle of its class to meet U.S. federal safety standards in 1993.
Third Generation (1996–2000)
This version of the Grand Caravan earned the distinction of winning Motor Trend magazine’s Car of the Year for 1996, and even appeared on the Car and Driver Ten Best for 1996 and 1997. A year later, the Grand Caravan also celebrated its 15th anniversary with the “Platinum Edition” trim level that came complete with one-of-a-kind anniversary branding and badging. Additionally, the third generation also received a handful of additional features, including a sliding door for the driver’s side, which was the first for a non-compact vehicle in North America.
Fourth Generation (2001–2007)
Since its three-year development from 1996 to 1999, the fourth generation of the Grand Caravan was built from the foundation of the Chrysler RS platform and gave it a larger body frame then was came before it, including modified headlights and taillights. The fourth-generation Caravan also added more features available to add on including power sliding doors and a power hatch.
Fifth Generation (2008–2020)
With the new addition of the Dodge Journey crossover in 2009, the company discontinued the short-wheelbase version of the Grand Caravan and gave it several mechanical overhauls following the changes. For starters, the latest generation now features a newly-standard six-speed automatic transmission paired with both the 3.8 L V6 and new 4.0 L V6 engine. Meanwhile, the 3.3 L Flex-Fuel V6 retained its four-speed automatic transmission, but the previously unavailable Electronic Stability Control feature was made standard across all models. Plus, the fifth-generation Caravan also introduced the new Swivel’n Go seat management system from Chrysler and added second and third-row video screens for additional passengers.