Even if you’re a sworn anti-minivan driver and consumer (like me), you’ll appreciate just how far the minivan has come in 35 years. That’s right. That much loved, much maligned prop of the suburban mom is officially 35 years old. And I can’t wait to remind you of how things have changed.
A few weeks ago, I headed up to the Windy City as a media guest of the Chicago Auto Show. One of the advantages of being a member of the media is that I get to see all the new cars without any of the crowds! But one day before the official media day and press conferences, we’re invited to something called the Concept and Technology Garage for a chance to get up close and personal with some interesting vehicles.
(Check out my video if you want a closer look)
There were fast and flashy cars. I even drove a Polaris Slingshot. But the vehicle that captured most of my attention was the 1984 Plymouth Voyager, one of the very first minivans introduced in the United States along with its sister vehicle, the Dodge Caravan.
If you didn’t have one, you knew someone that did. And the fanciest of them all had wood paneling on the side. Just like this 1984 Plymouth Voyager in mint condition with only 12,000 original miles on the odometer.
FCA, now the parent company of the successor to those 1984 wonders, proudly displayed the Plymouth Voyager side by side with the latest and greatest incarnation of the minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica. Even better, we got to fully explore both.
Admittedly, I felt nostalgic for the roomy seats and gobs of visibility due to the lack of headrests in the back and overly large windows. But safety has driven many of the changes in the Chrysler Pacifica. Here’s a look at the 1984 Plymouth Voyager and the 2019 Chrysler Pacifica 35th Anniversary Edition.
Remember hood ornaments? They’re gone, along with the multitude of chrome. And the halogen bulbs of 1984 have been replaced with bright, long lasting LED lamps.
While we’re up front, let’s talk about what was under the hood. Way back in 1984, people weren’t buying a minivan for performance. And it’s a good thing. The 1984 models came equipped with a 2.2L engine producing 96 hp. Today’s minivan, namely the Chrysler Pacifica, has a 3.6L V6 engine producing 287 hp.
Go around back and you’ll get a different perspective. And these photos prove that looks can be deceiving.
The 1984 Plymouth Voyager was a wide load coming in at 72.2 inches. The 2019 Chrysler Pacifica looks like it might be narrower but it actually boasts a width of 79.6 inches and a height of over 5 inches greater that the original.
Of course, the minivan was all about the capacity. The Plymouth Voyager came in at 177.5 inches while the Pacifica is now a whopping 203.8 inches. Thank goodness we now have back-up cameras, blind spot monitoring, and tons of other safety features.
But the REAL capacity was on the inside. The 1984 version of the Plymouth Voyager could be equipped for five, six, seven passengers (eight passenger capacity came the following year). You could actually have the two front bucket seats replaced by bench seating. Remember when a third passenger could actually sit in the middle of the front seat?
In this model, the second row consisted of a two passenger bench with a three passenger bench in the rear, for a total of seven passengers.
This is one area that has vastly improved with minivans. The Chrysler Pacifica can seat up to eight passengers but boasts up to 243 seating configurations. (Seriously, the Stow’N Go seats are THE BEST). You can essentially turn the mom-mobile into a cargo vans in seconds.
So what’s not to love? It sounds like I think the 1984 Plymouth Voyager is pretty rad. Well, yes. I do. But it’s time has come and gone. I mean, no head rests, no shoulder belts, and WHERE ARE MY DRINKHOLDERS AND USB CONNECTIONS?
That’s not all that’s changed. Just check out these rims. Aren’t we glad whitewalls aren’t still a thing?
There’s just one thing I wish had been held over from the original minivan 35 years ago…
Because we could all use an extra place for our crap!
And one last very important change… the price.
In 1984, the original MSRP for the Plymouth Voyager was $8,280. Adjusting for inflation, that would buy a $20,000 vehicle today. But innovation comes at a price and all of the advancements in the Chrysler Pacifica gives you a starting MSRP of close to $27,000 (up to $44,000).
Congrats to FCA for keeping the minivan alive and well for 35 years!
- The company that created the minivan segment celebrates 35 years of minivan leadership this year
- To mark this milestone, FCA US is offering 35th Anniversary editions, which feature new badging, an all-black interior with Cranberry Wine accent stitching and upgraded content on 2019 Chrysler Pacifica, Pacifica Hybrid and Dodge Grand Caravan models, available this summer
- With more than 14.6 million minivans sold globally since 1983, FCA US tops the segment, selling twice as many minivans as any other manufacturer over the past 35 years, and remains the leader with 55 percent market share in 2018 – the highest ever attained
- As the first company to introduce the minivan and through six generations of the vehicle, FCA US has innovated 115 minivan-firsts – 37 of those innovations coming from the Chrysler Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid
To read more about the only minivan I’ve ever loved, check out my review on the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica: HOW THE CHRYSLER PACIFICA TURNED ME INTO A MINIVAN LOVER (GASP!)