Just this Thursday, Chrysler has announced that it will be splitting its Pacifica minivan off into two individual models. The prestige minivan will retain the Pacifica name, while as a shock to almost no one, Chrysler’s new entry-level minivan will be called Voyager. Sound familiar?
As one may recall, after its successful 16-year run as a Plymouth, the Voyager (and Grand Voyager) nameplate was transferred over to Chrysler’s lineup midway through the 2000 model year as part of Plymouth’s phase-out process.
Following the minivan’s fourth generation in 2001, the Voyager would be short-wheelbase only, and apart from minor cosmetic changes and the obviously different equipment levels, the Voyager and Town & Country continued side-by-side for three years.
Yet at some point, someone must have thought that having two Chrysler minivan nameplates in addition to one Dodge was a bit too confusing. Thus, beginning in 2004, all Chrysler-branded minivans were called Town & Country, further lowering the little prestige left in the Chrysler name. In Europe meanwhile, all Mopar minivans had been continuously sold as the Chrysler Voyager since its introduction in 1988, albeit with many Dodge Caravan-exclusive trim, just to make things more confusing.
Here in North America, Chrysler has carried on with one Chrysler-branded and one Dodge-branded minivan since 2004. Currently they are in form of the highly-competitive, vintage-2017 Chrysler Pacifica, as well as the archaic yet competent and solid value, vintage-2008 Dodge Grand Caravan. For 2020, the Chrysler Voyager will slot between them.
Taking the place of the 2019 Pacifica L and Pacifica LX are the the Voyager L and Voyager LX, plus a fleet-only trim, somewhat curiously dubbed the LXi. It’s odd that the fleet model is called the LXi, as generally the more letters in an alphanumeric trim, the higher its positioning. Additionally, while reviving the LXi is and appreciated nod to the past, the LXi always represented a higher-trimmed minivan, dating back to its debut as the Town & Country’s most prestigious trim in 1996. But I digress.
Regardless of trim, all 2020 Voyagers will come standard with 7-passenger seating, cloth upholstery, manual climate controls, Uconnect 4 with 7-inch center color touchscreen and 3.5-inch digital gauge cluster display, Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto, plus the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 making 287 horsepower and 262 lb-ft torque, and 9-speed automatic transmission.
LX models add a few more features, while fleet-only LXi models curiously add the most standard and some exclusive equipment, such as leatherette upholstery and Stow-and-Go rear seating. In all honesty, 2020 Voyager models haven’t changed much from the 2019 Pacifica models they are replacing, which begs me to question, what is the point of the 2020 Chrysler Voyager?
This move is clearly a marketing tactic, as there is no other real benefit of splitting the minivan into two separate model lines. It actually makes a bit of sense, and here me out. For 2019, there are no fewer than six trim levels offered on the Pacifica, and nine total if you include the three Pacifica Hybrid trims. Instead of covering an $18,000 spread between the Pacifica L’s $27,235 base price and the Pacifica Hybrid Limited’s $45,795 base price, the Voyager will be associated value while the Town & Country, I mean Pacifica, will be for those seeking a higher-optioned or even downright luxury minivan. The only anomaly is that FCA will still produce and sell the Dodge Caravan for the time being.
Once again, this is no different from what Chrysler did 20 years ago, but history seems to have a way of repeating itself for the smallest of the Big Three, whether it is the automaker’s own doing or not. Additionally, this move most likely also is to generate buzz around the Chrysler brand, as it hasn’t released a “new” model in three years. It also could be to broaden the Chrysler lineup, as at present, the brand sells just two vehicles, the Pacifica and the aging 300. I guess we’ll see how long this voyage lasts.