The first Dodge Caravan appeared back in 1983 and immediately gained popularity, as it laid the foundation for a completely new class of roomy family cars. To please fans of different brands, the same car was sold under the names Chrysler Voyager, Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan. They could only be distinguished by branded “nameplates”, elements of the front of the case (grille, bumpers) and some differences in the cabin.
The Americans immediately liked these very roomy minivans with low operating costs and excellent handling characteristics, which completely replaced the usual earlier full-size station wagons like Station Wagon.
Two engines acted as the main driving force: a 2.5-liter “four” turbocharged engine producing 150 hp. and a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 141 hp The latest engine became the most popular and, in fact, set the American standard for power units of minivans.
In 1987, the car underwent a light restyling, which is most noticeable in frontal optics (vertical headlights gave way to horizontal ones). In the same year, the model began to be delivered to the European market. The production car fully met almost all the requirements for family minivans, both in comfort and in dynamic performance. Air conditioning, power windows and cup holders were mounted first only by order.
In March 1990, all models of the family were modernized, the body and chassis were substantially redesigned, even the overall parameters (4525x1830x1680 mm) changed, and the maximum boot volume increased to 3250 liters. Body shapes have become smoother and smoother. In the range of powertrains appeared 3.3-liter 164-horsepower gasoline engine V6, mounted on the Grand model with an extended wheelbase (4895x1830x1690 mm). It was used until 1994. The year 1991 was marked by the appearance of AWD all-wheel drive modification with an independent rear axle connected via viscous coupling with De Dion suspension. In the same year, the line of power units was replenished with a 99-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, which was 15% more economical than the most wasteful in the range of the 3.0-liter V6 power unit, consuming up to 17 l / 100 km on the highway.
The economical 2.5-liter turbodiesel with a capacity of 118 hp was designed for the European market since June 1992.
A very capacious cargo compartment predetermined the use of the Dodge Caravan not only as a family car, but also as a utility or public transport.
In 1995, the second generation of Dodge Caravan minivans entered the market.
The elegant streamlined body of the Caravan with a beveled hood and a strong tilt of the front struts later became a role model. They produce two basic versions – with a short and a long base, which differ in standard equipment and the volume of the luggage compartment. The extended version received the prefix Grand.
The main difference between the second-generation Caravan and its predecessor is the appearance of two side sliding doors, although there was a modification with a 4-door body, in which the driver did not have a second door. Wide doors provide easy access to a spacious passenger compartment with three rows of seats.
The seats of the second and third rows are removable. They are quite heavy, but when dismantled they can be transported on small mounted wheels. For passengers of the second row, additional deflectors of the “stove” have been launched.
Caravan is a vehicle that is perfectly suited for long journeys by a large company. Everything is thought out to the smallest detail. The lever of the selector of an automatic box in the tradition of the American automobile industry is placed on the steering column. Accordingly, you can switch from front to rear seats without leaving the cabin.
There was a top version equipped with a 3.8-liter gasoline engine and four-wheel drive.
The third generation of the model, introduced in 2001, largely copies the predecessor. The same body, similar design. But with the disappearance of the Plymouth brand, only Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Voyager remained on the market.
The range of power units includes gasoline engines with a volume of 2.4 (152 hp) and 3.3 liters (160 hp), as well as turbodiesels of 2.5 and 2.8 liters. Turbo diesel engines are not installed on the Dodge Caravan, which is sold on the American market, but a more powerful 3.8-liter gasoline engine with 182 hp is provided. There are modifications in the lineup with both a 5-speed manual and a 4-speed “Automatic”. The version with 3.3- and 3.8-liter engines can be equipped with AWD all-wheel drive transmission.
The next upgrade touched Caravan in 2004. The updated minivan debuted at the NAIAS in Detroit.
Two basic models are offered: the Caravan with a 2878 mm wheelbase and the Grand Caravan with a 3030 wheelbase.