FCA confirmed this week that Dodge will end production of both the Grand Caravan and the Journey after the 2020 model year, leaving the brand without a front-wheel drive crossover for the first time since 2008, and without a minivan for the first time in nearly four decades.
“The year was 1983. Ronald Reagan was President of the United States of America. Lech Walesa was the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. The Internet was created, and the first mobile phones were introduced to the public. U.S. astronauts completed the first space shuttle spacewalk; Michael Jackson performed the ‘moonwalk.’ The Baltimore Orioles won the World Series … and Chrysler hit a home run with the introduction of the first minivan,” FCA (then Chrysler LLC) said when it celebrated the minivan’s 25th anniversary in 2008.
Since that anniversary, the Dodge variant of FCA’s minivan has changed very little. It has received interior and powertrain improvements, including the introduction of the 3.6-liter “Pentastar” V6 in 2011, but its fundamental architecture has remained constant. The lack of attention it received came to light in 2019, when the outdated powertrain disqualified it from new-car sales eligibility in California.
The prior 25 years notwithstanding, the story of the Dodge Journey is somewhat similar. Introduced in 2008 as a 2009 model, it was praised as one of Chrysler’s better, more modern offerings when it hit dealerships. Like the Grand Caravan, it later benefited from an interior overhaul and the introduction of the 3.6-liter V6, but its bones remained unchanged for the duration. This lack of attention showed, as the Journey slipped from borderline-competitive to also-ran.
The discontinuation of the Grand Caravan and Journey eliminates 40% of the Dodge lineup. The two models represent more than 38% of the brand’s sales volume so far in 2020. For 2021, only the Charger, Challenger and Durango will remain. Minivan buyers will still have options at Chrysler, which offers several variants of the Pacifica, including the new Voyager, which is a stripped-down model aimed at budget-conscious buyers who would previously have been drawn to the bare-bones Dodge.