Press Kit: 25th Anniversary of the Minivan

Chrysler LLC Continues to Perfect Minivan Formula

  • Chrysler’s award-winning minivan formula includes: “garageable” size, chair-height seating, low step-in height, efficient two-box design, flat-load floor with walk-through access to second row, fuel-efficient powertrains, dual DVD entertainment systems, more than 30 safety and security features and innovative Stow ‘n Go® and Swivel ‘n Go™ seating and storage systems
  • Innovation, versatility and unmatched efficiency continue to make Chrysler and Dodge minivans segment leaders
Auburn Hills, Mich. September 24, 2008 - Product formulas are derived from the relentless pursuit of perfection. Coca-Cola® has their trademark soft drink formula that customers love. Chrysler LLC has perfected its minivan formula that families around the globe have depended upon for the past 25 years.

In the late 1970s, Chrysler designers and engineers set out to create a new segment by improving upon an earlier product success formula: its full-size Dodge Ram passenger van.

At the time, Chrysler dominated the full-size van segment by offering car-like conveniences including power windows, power locks, power seats, rear-window defrosters and sophisticated audio systems. By simply offering more car-like amenities in a smaller version of its van, vehicle planners envisioned creating a segment that competed with station wagons.

Full-size vans would not fit into a standard American garage, so Chrysler designers and engineers determined that the new van should be “garageable.” In addition, the focus of this new small-sized van was on interior utilization, useful customer amenities and versatility created from the design’s two-box shape. By making the vehicle front-engine, front-wheel drive, Chrysler designers and engineers created a low, step-in height, which allowed for easy entry and exit and comfortable chair-high seating.

To ensure a passenger-friendly minivan, Chrysler designed a side-sliding passenger door that opened 30 inches (76 centimeters), the size of a standard home door opening. Another key ingredient included the utilization of a flat floor with walk-through access from front-row to second-row seats.

Chrysler’s first minivan program cost $660 million (U.S.)—a small price for a “magic wagon” that would forever change the mode of family transportation. Production of the magic wagon began in November of 1983 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Twenty-five years later, Chrysler’s “inside out” formula is still the standard by which other minivans are measured. However, it is the entire package that has put Chrysler and Dodge minivans at the forefront of the market, with each new generation.

Innovation in the minivan segment has been the key to success for Chrysler. With more than 65 minivan-first features and more than 25 years of minivan development experience, Chrysler’s award-winning formula continues to get better.

More than 65 minivan-first features include:
1. First minivan introduced to the market (first front-wheel-drive small van) (1984)
2. First minivan to offer selection of engines, V-6 or four cylinder (1987)
3. First to offer long-wheelbase minivans, Dodge Grand Caravan and Plymouth Grand Voyager (1987)
4. First to offer luxury minivan with introduction of Chrysler Town & Country (1990)
5. First minivan to offer standard driver-side air bag (1991)
6. First minivan with center high-mounted stop lamp (1991)
7. First minivan with child safety locks on sliding door (1991)
8. First minivan to offer four-wheel anti-lock brakes (1991)
9. First minivan to offer Quad Command seating package (1991)
10. First minivan to offer all-wheel drive on front-wheel-drive platform (1991)
11. First minivan to offer integrated child seat (1992)
12. First to introduce an all-electric powered minivan, Dodge TEVan (1993)
13. First minivan to offer standard passenger-side air bag (1994)
14. First minivan with dynamic side-impact protection (1994)
15. First minivan to meet California 1997 Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) certification (1994)
16. First minivan to meet Inherently Low Emission Vehicle (ILEV) certification (1995)
17. First minivan with seamless passenger-side air bag door (1996)
18. First minivan to offer dual-zone temperature control (1996)
19. First minivan in U.S. market to offer driver-side sliding door (fourth door) (1996)
20. First minivan to offer windshield wiper de-icer (1996)
21. First minivan to offer 16-inch wheels and tires for enhanced performance (1996)
22. First minivan to offer power memory seat and mirrors (1996)
23. First minivan to offer Easy-Out Roller Seats® (1996)
24. First minivan to offer adjustable cup holders (1996)
25. First minivan with cab-forward design (1996)
26. First minivan to offer adjustable reclining rear child seat with molded seat cushion (1996)
27. First minivan with removable windshield wiper module (1996)
28. First minivan with mid-cabin upper-level comfort control (1996)
29. First minivan with dual-action rear drum brakes (1996)
30. First minivan capable of transporting 4 x 8 foot (1.2 x 2.4 meter) material on top of folded seatbacks or with seat removed and liftgate closed (long wheelbase) (1996)
31. First minivan with rear seatback-mounted grocery bag hooks (1998)
32. First minivan to offer Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) availability, ethanol/gasoline (1998)
33. First minivan to offer 17-inch wheels and tires for enhanced performance (1999)
34. First minivan to offer Auto Stick transaxle (1999)
35. First minivan to offer wireless headphones for in-vehicle entertainment system (2000)
36. First minivan to offer 6.4-inch (16.2-centimeter) LCD screen for in-vehicle entertainment system (2000)
37. First minivan to offer power-up and power-down liftgate (2001)
38. First minivan to offer removable, powered center console (2001)
39. First minivan with power dual sliding doors, allowing for minivan-first manual override, powered by an industry-first inside-the-door motor (2001)
40. First minivan to offer power sliding door obstacle detection system when opening and closing (2001)
41. First minivan to offer engines with power over 210 horsepower (2001)
42. First minivan to offer pop-up rear cargo organizer (2001)
43. First minivan with three-zone temperature control system (2001)
44. First minivan with rear split 50/50 Easy-Out Roller Seats (2001)
45. First minivan with Stow ‘n Go® seating and storage system (2005)
46. First minivan with Super High Density (SHD) foam cushion seating (2005)
47. First minivan with split-bench third-row reclining tailgate seating (2005)
48. First minivan with third-row easy-entry system—with the pull of a single strap, the second-row seat tumbles out of the way (2005)
49. First minivan with a driver-side inflatable knee blocker (2005)
50. First minivan with Door Alert (2005)
51. First minivan with overhead rail system with movable/removable storage bins (2005)
52. First minivan to offer Swivel ‘n Go™ seat system (second-row seats swivel 180 degrees rearward and includes a removable table that installs between the second and third rows) (2008)
53. First minivan to offer a removable, two-part sliding front console with power outlet (2008)
54. First minivan to offer an umbrella holder (2008)
55. First minivan to offer a dual DVD system that can play different media at the same time (2008)
56. First minivan in North America to offer a six-speed transaxle (2008)
57. First minivan to offer dual A/V jacks, 115-volt inverter and 12-volt power outlet in C-pillar (2008)
58. First minivan to offer ambient halo light package with movable LED pinpoint lighting (2008)
59. First minivan to offer an integrated child booster seat (2008)
60. First minivan to offer a removable, rechargeable LED flashlight (2008)
61. First minivan to offer first- and second-row heated seats in cloth or leather (2008)
62. First minivan to offer YES Essentials stain-resistant, odor-resistant, anti-static cloth seats (now called Stain Repel seat fabric) (2008)
63. First minivan to offer Blind Spot Monitoring System (2009)
64. First minivan to offer Rear Cross Path System (2009)
65. First minivan to offer SmartBeam® headlamps (2009)
66. First minivan to offer swiveling third-row monitor (2009)

Note: All years indicated denote model-year introductions.