Fix + Fast
Though the Chrysler minivan line had been dramatically redesigned for 1991, and would be completely re-engineered for 1996, numerous changes were made in 1994, including the introduction of a compressed natural gas powertrain. (More details on the 1991-95 minivans)
New side moldings were standard on Dodge and Plymouth SE models for 1994, to provide body side protection and model distinction. Unique body side and sill appliqués were standard on Caravan LE and ES group. Voyager LE, LX, and Town & Country shared unique body side and sill appliqués in either accent or body color. The Town & Country woodgrain elite group included a body-color grille and body color upper molding on the front combination lights with selected colors.
New fascias gave a fresh appearance to Caravan, Grand Caravan, Voyager, Grand Voyager and Town & Country for 1994. Three sets of fascias, in combination with either body color or accent color painted finish provided a unique appearance to help distinguish models and trim groups.
Caravan and Voyager offered improved solar control rear and side window privacy glass for 1994. This glass reduced total solar energy transmission by 47% versus conventional privacy glass. The solar control ingredient was molded into the glass rather than applied as a coating for increased abrasion resistance. This new glass also offered a deeper hue and reduced exterior reflectance for improved appearance.
For 1994, hinge mounts on the door were reinforced to make door operation more stable and maintain adjustment. Foam washers were installed on the door lock links to eliminate rattles. The power door lock motor was repositioned relative to the linkage to improve the mechanical advantage, making operation smoother.
The driver's side windshield wiper blade was lengthened from 18 to 22 inches (457 mm to 559 mm) to improve visibility. For more effective cleaning of the liftgate window, two washer fluid nozzles were located on the wiper blade, instead of a single nozzle on the arm.
Improved camshaft dynamics reduced 3.3 and 3.8-liter engine noise levels (by 3 dBA at idle, and 5 dBA at 5000 rpm). The quality of sound associated with valve gear action was also less harsh. Other changes to reduce engine noise included acoustic heat shields for the exhaust manifolds and crossover pipe that absorbed noise and damp vibration, a quieter camshaft timing chain and a redesigned left engine mount.
Acoustic treatments were enhanced or optimized to improve overall minivan performance. The addition of items listed below contributed to reduction of rough-road noise, harshness noise, passenger compartment boom, engine noise and exhaust noise. The following items were standard on all models:
Chrysler and LE models (and SE models with a sound reduction package) also had:
A completely redesigned minivan instrument panel had better visibility, easier access to controls, and greater attention to fit, finish and avoidance of buzzes, squeaks and rattles. The panel retained the raised, extended section, inclined upward for easier visibility. The center stack was moved to the left for easier access; the standard center console had an open lower bin. Town & Country and LE models had a hinged lower storage bin that included cassette or CD storage slots and a removable coin holder. The interior of the bin was flocked for high quality appearance and sound damping. The audio system panel remained in the center stack but was higher and closer to the driver than before. The heatera/c control panel was also higher for easier access and a new, more flexible two-opening pullout cupholder was added beneath the HVAC controls.
Cluster, message center and center stack bezels were black on the Caravan, Caravan C/V, Grand Caravan, Voyager and Grand Voyager. On Town & Country, the cluster and message center bezels had an interior-color "soft touch" paint finish. The Town & Country panel had high-gloss woodgrain center stacks and right side bezels. These bezels were color-keyed on other models.
The upper portion of the panel had a soft expanded vinyl surface that was vacuum-formed over urethane foam padding and an ABS plastic armature. A new manufacturing process furnished a higher quality surface. Right of the center stack, in the lower section of the panel, was a new bin-type glove compartment with an easy-to-use pull latch that was accessible from the driver's seat. The bin was more convenient than the previous box design because its contents were less likely to spill.
A passenger air bag was mounted beneath a door in the upper surface of the instrument panel. Retaining tabs on the door hinge were guided in slots on the air bag module, allowing the door to adjust to the instrument panel and snap neatly into place. The door had a resilient exposed surface of TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) molded over a TPO (thermoplastic olefin) armature.
For easier access, the right switch pod of the minivan instrument panel housed switches formerly located in the center-stack accessory switch module. In addition, an overdrive lockout push button was included with the four-speed overdrive automatic transaxle. Minivan power window, power lock and power mirror rocker switches were paddle-operated with recessed switches and switch bezels to avoid inadvertent operation. On the driver's door, which had both types of switches, the window switches were rearward of the mirror switches for convenience.
A Chrysler-Infinity amplified speaker system was optional on Voyager, Grand Voyager, Caravan and Grand Caravan with the AM/FM-stereo radio cassette player. It consisted of two 5-1 14-inch co-axial speakers in the instrument panel, two sub-woofers with integral amplifiers in the front doors, and two 6x9-inch oval speakers with integral power amplifiers in the lift gate.
For 1994, the back of the optional Child Safety Seats reclined 22° from the normal seating position to improve comfort for sleeping children.
The seven-passenger convert-a-bed option was available on Voyager, Grand Voyager, Caravan and Grand Caravan LE as well as SE models for 1994. Features of this seating arrangement remained the same as in 1993.
An adjustable front passenger seat was furnished for the first time on all minivans. It had 6 inches of travel, allowing the passenger to be closer to or farther from the instrument panel than with the previous fixed seat. The release handle is on the inboard side of the seat and was shaped to clear the storage drawer under the seat.
Speed-sensitive automatic operation capability door locks were included on numerous minivans, delivered with automatic operation disabled - it could easily be enabled by the owner. When automatic locking was active, all doors lock when all are closed and the vehicle is moving under power above approximately 16 mph.
The minivan trip computer had new graphics for improved appearance and improved diagnostic capabilities, making it easier to find and correct malfunctions. The trip computer was wired to the C2D data bus, enabling diagnostic access for the scan tool through the same connector as other on-board electronic modules.
An underhood electrical PDC (power distribution center) provided protection for major electrical power circuits of all minivans, a central mounting point for underhood relays that improves serviceability, and orderly underhood appearance. Its location behind the battery minimized voltage drops in the wiring. Provision was made to house standardized ISO relays for up to nine commonly required functions. Cartridge type fuses and Minifuses® supplied power to 15 main circuits. The fuse for the IOD (Ignition Off-Draw) circuit was used as a "switch" to disconnect circuits that drew current when the ignition was off, preventing battery discharge. A bright yellow holder above the socket made the IOD fuse easy to identify. When the 100 fuse was pulled up, it remained in the holder, ready to be re-installed when needed. A label inside the cover identified the relays and fuses.
A new four-wheel anti-lock disc brake system replaced the all hydraulic system. A new hydraulic unit with solenoid valves and an electric motor-driven pump, but simpler and less costly than its predecessors, provided ABS action; the change resulted in lower pedal effort and some pedal pulsation during ABS action. Sensors were unchanged.
All minivans except Caravan C/V complied with all enacted Federal Passenger Car Safety Standards (FMVSS) through 1998. Additional safety features not legally required, such as a minivan driver air bag, child safety seats and CHMSL (center, high-mounted stop light), were added previously.
Caravan, Caravan C/V, Grand Caravan, Voyager, Grand Voyager and Town & County were the first minivans to have a passenger air bag. The minivan passenger air bag was larger than a driver air bag because it must extend farther from the instrument panel to reach the passenger. Chrysler minivans were the first North American-built vehicles to use a hybrid inflator, called that because it combined combustion of a pyrotechnic material with the release of compressed gas to inflate the air bag. With the hybrid inflator, the inflating gas was cooler and there was much less residue of combustion products. The pyrotechnic material was mixed with PVC plastic and molded to resemble the cartridge cylinder of a revolver. It was only 0.74 in. (20 mm) long and 1.5 in. (40 mm) in diameter. The residue from combustion was primarily potassium chloride, a cousin of table salt.
The inflator module included a door that snapped into an opening in the upper surface of the panel. The door was molded of TPO (thermoplastic olefin) and included a living hinge to allow rapid air bag deployment. The snap connections to the instrument panel broke at deployment. Conversely, the living hinge flexes remained firmly attached to the module.
The air bag was made of fine-weave nylon that allowed the inflating gasses to vent after deployment through the pores and seams in the fabric. The bag was carefully folded to assure smooth, rapid deployment.
The electronic control module for the Caravan, Caravan CIV, Grand Caravan, Voyager, Grand Voyager and Town & Country driver and passenger air bags included a single piezo-electric accelerometer to detect a collision. This was the first use of this type of air bag collision sensor on a vehicle sold in the US. The piezo-electric accelerometer is a wafer of crystalline semi-conductor material that produces a voltage when deflected by a strong decelerating force acting on the vehicle. The accelerometer determines both the direction and intensity of impact. The signal level and characteristics that indicate a collision for which air bag deployment is required are determined by analyzing a series of tests with the control module mounted in the specific location of the specific vehicle. On minivans, the module was mounted on the transverse centerline of the vehicle, under the instrument panel.
The use of a piezo-electric sensor made sensors mounted on the forward part of the body structure unnecessary and superseded spring-mass sensors used previously. System reliability was improved by eliminating the remote sensors and their electrical connections. The piezo-electric sensor was hermetically sealed in a housing attached to the air bag electronic control module.
Knee bolsters, which restrain unbelted passengers while minimizing injury to knees and legs, were included in all passenger cars for several years and in minivans since mid-1991. Energy management foam attached to the back of the lower panel provides a cushioning effect. As part of the knee bolster, the glove compartment door used corrugated steel to bridge the opening in the lower panel.
Front and "quad command" bucket seats on minivans included anti-submarine blocks in the cushions. A Styrofoam™ block was inserted into a void under the forward portion of the cushion pad. This improved occupant positioning relative to air bag andl/or belt system during a collision by resisting forward movement of the occupant. The existence of these blocks was not apparent to the occupant in normal operation--comfort was unaffected.
Corrugated cold-rolled high-strength steel beams were adapted to minivan front doors with stamped brackets and welded in place. A heavy-wall tubular beam was adapted to the sliding side door with extension brackets and also welded in place. No changes in hinges, latches or pillar structure were required. These beams met the new moving barrier impact test criteria for passenger cars, rather than the truck and MPV requirements.
A remote, radio-controlled keyless entry system was available on all minivans.
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