2001-07 Chrysler Voyager, Dodge Caravan, and Chrysler Town & Country
The first generation of Chrysler minivans designed from the ground up to be minivans debuted in 1996, and sold very well, despite intense competition. The 2001 refresh essentially kept the same winning formula, updated the styling, boosted V-6 engine power, dropped the Mitsubishi engine, and added new features and refinements, including:
- Powered, dual sliding side doors, with an industry-first inside-the-door motor
- Industry-first power sliding door obstacle detection system
- A powered tailgate
- Removable, powered center console
- Three-zone automatic temperature control system
- Side air bags and front seat belt pretensioners; universal child seat anchors (ISOFIX)
Chrysler engineers were unfortunately raided by a small team of overzealous cost-cutters as time went on; some cuts over the years included switch backlighting, the left flood interior light on the tailgate door, and the highly useful, unique windshield de-icers (dropped in mid-2003, as far as we can tell).
Models: Chrysler Voyager, Dodge Caravan, Town & Country
Chrysler’s power range went from the 150-hosrepower 2.4 liter engine, and finished with the 3.8 V6; the Mitsubishi 3.0 V6 was finally dropped, and a planned 250-horsepower 3.5 never made it into the vans. (Dimensions and more details on the engines).
In Europe, a new VM 140 bhp common-rail, direct injection diesel engine debuted, pushing out 312 Nm at 1,800 rpm.
The standard and extended wheelbase divide continued, with both front wheel drive and all wheel drive. Chrysler Town & Country dropped from being a premium model as Plymouth was lost; only the new Limited had “luxury” features. The Dodge Caravan included SE, Sport, and ES; the latter included an AutoStick overridable automatic transmission.
Driving Improvements for the 2001 Chrysler minivans
- 80% brighter headlamps
- Larger brake rotors and calipers
- 3.3 power increased by 15%, to 180 horsepower; torque increased 2.5% to 210 ft.-lb. @ 4000 rpm
- 3.8 power increased by nearly 20% to 215 hp @ 5000 rpm; torque increased 2% to 245 ft.-lb. @ 4000 rpm
- Two more degrees of caster in the front suspension and a 30% more powerful, more precise steering gear improved steering returnability and precision feel
- A 20% increase in torsional stiffness of the body structure
- Increased area for windshield wiper defroster grid and a 42% increase in power provided more effective wiper de-icing (until this feature was removed around 2003-04)
- A paddle bar switch on the back surface of the liftgate light bar triggered a solenoid that released the liftgate latch (this was a debatable “improvement”)
- Aluminum steering knuckles saved 12 pounds (5.5 kg)
- Electronic relays had integrated self diagnostics as well as circuit protection
Noise, Vibration, and Harshness Reduction
- Rear suspension attachment locations on the body structure were eight times as stiff, which reduced road noise
- Molded foam gaskets between outside mirrors and the body prevented wind noise
- Molded gaskets sealed the inside and outside door handles to curtail noise entry
- Acoustic materials were applied to the concealed side of the headliner, on the dash panel, under the carpet and over rear wheel houses
- A thicker underhood silencer pad reduced engine noise
- Improved molded liners for the seat striker pockets reduced floor pan noise transmission
- The front strut, control arm, and engine mounts and isolators were redesigned to reduce road noise and minimize shake
- A toe board crossmember and instrument braces were added to minimize shake
- The roof rack cross bows were refined through wind tunnel testing in order to minimize wind noise and eliminate rumble
Jerry Olsen wrote that 4-wheel disc brakes were available on both the short wheelbase and Grand Caravan Sport models. It seemed to be part of the Sport Touring Group. The Trailer Tow Group also seemed to include the brakes, but only on the long wheelbase models.
2001 Dodge Caravan, Chrysler Voyager, etc. interior
The rear liftgate and dual sliding rear door were activated from controls on the overhead console, as well as the key fob, as well as buttons inside the vehicle. The motors for the rear sliding doors were inside the doors themselves; they had a manual override and an obstacle detection system that protected them from accidental damage while opening and closing.
The (optional/included only on some models) removable centre console could be latched into place either between the front (on automatic transmission vehicles) or the middle-row seats. Docking into brackets attached to the floor, the console provided power as well. When the console was removed, the bracket functioned as a storage tray, complete with a rubber liner.
The center console included two separate storage compartments with lockable hinged latching lids. The rear compartment was illuminated and had a large open storage area, complete with removable bin. A tissue and map holder were molded into the underside of the rear lid.
The front compartment had a removable bracket holder for a cellular telephone and a power outlet for the phone's battery charger. Power was always supplied to the front mounting location to allow overnight charging of battery-powered equipment; when mounted between intermediate seats, the console was powered when the ignition was on.
Middle-seat cup holders were moved to the outboard sides of the seat risers. When the seat was tipped forward for rear seat access, the cup holder remained in place as the seat rotated around it, to prevent spills.
A rear cargo organizer on the floor behind the rear seat represented another first and was available in Europe as an accessory. When open, the cargo organizer formed a storage bin with two folding dividers that were spaced to accommodate up to six full-size paper grocery bags. The organizer could be used with the existing seat-back mounted grocery bag hooks to carry plastic grocery bags. In the raised position, with storage compartments closed, the organizer aligned with the surface of the folded down rear seat back to create a continuous load floor, allowing the buyer to carry 4' x 8' sheets of plywood. Items including pushchairs and golf clubs could be stored beneath in the closed storage compartments.
Front seat tracks were extended by 10 mm to provide more leg room for tall drivers.
The instrument panel had a message centre and had a deeper soft-touch pad area, extending farther forward to the base of the windshield.
A new molded front seatback panel included an integral assist handle and two shopping bag holders on both driver and passenger front seats. All models added a vinyl map pocket on the left side while luxury editions and premium models with leather trim added an umbrella holder on the right side. Re-contoured inboard armrests provided more walk-through space when folded upright.
The face of the center stack was canted upward for better visibility; front door switches were closer to the occupants and angled farther inboard. Memory push-button switches were repositioned for easier access.
The new overhead console had a single door that held two pairs of sunglasses. The overhead rear climate control module was moved from the driver's side to the centre, providing (less convenient) access for both center row passengers.
International: Chrysler Voyager
The Chrysler Voyager was sold in more than 70 countries, with the first international Voyager imported into Europe in 1988. Starting in 1991, Voyager entered European production in Graz, Austria. These models had a diesel and manual transmission option.
Chrysler only had 12% of the European market, selling 50,000 vans per year in a 400,000 minivan market. In all other markets combined, Chrysler sold only 10,000 minivans per year.
2001 Dodge and Chrysler minivan safety
Some safety improvements included:
- Upgraded body to enhance real world safety performance
- Optional side (head and thorax) air bags.
- Air bags with dual stage inflators which provided appropriate restraint from the severity of an impact, reducing the potential for injury in a low-speed collision
- A redesigned steering column, with a stamped steel bracket at the forward end of the column, which absorbed and managed energy from an impact
- Front seat belt pretensioners that eliminated slack from the seat belt system in a collision and constant force retractors which managed peak loads
- A-, B-, C- and D-pillar covers molded from a derivative of polypropylene that deforms and absorbs loads on impact. Covers were offset from the body structure and included concealed ribs for energy absorption
- Molded, impact-absorbing polyurethane foam bonded to the headliner and roof side rails for additional protection
- Energy-absorbing front door armrests tuned to "give" in a side-impact collision
- Child seat anchors - much better than the seat belts for holding a child seat
2001 minivans: specifications (mm/in.)
|Long Wheelbase||Short wheelbase||Comparison: 1984 minivans|
|Wheelbase:||3030 (119.3)||2878 (113.3)||112” and 119”|
|Overall Length:||5094 (200.5)||4803 (189.1)||176” and 191”|
|Overall Width:||1997 (78.6)||1997 (78.6)||69”|
|Overall Height:||1748 (68.8)||1749 (68.9)||64”|
|Power||180 - 215 hp||150 - 180 hp||102 hp - 106 hp|
2003 Dodge Caravan, Grand Caravan, Chrysler Voyager, and Chrysler Town & Country
In 2003, the eC model was discontinued. The SE Value Package had Remote Keyless Entry and AM/FM stereo radio with cassette and CD player optional. The eL added the 3.8-liter V6 engine as an option and Sport Caravan was renamed Popular Equipment Package; Grand Caravan Package H was named the Family package and Package K was named the Popular Equipment Package.
The 3.8-liter V6 included the Grand Caravan Popular Equipment Package. ES added power liftgate, removable center console, Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC), auto dimming mirrors, AM/FM radio with cassette and CD, third-row lamps and grab handles, roof rack, steering wheel radio controls, 16-inch chrome "Ingot" aluminum wheels.
Power adjustable pedals were available in Chrysler Voyager LX, as well as the Dodge Caravan and the Chrysler Town & Country. With adjustable pedals, drivers had the ability to adjust their accelerator and brake pedals up to 2.75 inches (70 mm) rearward. Driver and passenger air bags with multi-stage inflators to deliver appropriate restraint for the severity of impact were featured. Supplemental side-impact air bags for front outboard occupants were available. The eC model was gone, leaving the LX with two option packages: Value and Popular Equipment packages. A fold/recline feature was added to second- and third-row seats on the Value Package.
All wheel drive was no longer available on the Town & Country LX. The eL had an optional 3.8 V6. The eX gained a standard driver-side power sliding door, steering wheel audio controls, Security Alarm, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. The LXi added power liftgate, EVIC, auto-dimming mirrors, AM/FM radio with cassette and CD, third-row lamps and grab handles and roof rack. The Limited added heated front seats, AM/FM/cassette/CD changer and Quad Command seats with 50/50 rear bench. One-touch power sun roof with one of the largest openings in the segment (840 x 532 mm) was on the Towan & Country and the Grand Caravan.
The Town & Country and Grand Caravan also had an optional DVD entertainment system, a flip-down seven-inch diagonal screen and an in-dash unit to play DVDs. It came with a wireless remote and minivan-first wireless headphones. Auxiliary input jacks allowed connections with video games, MP3 players, video cameras, etc. With 130-degree viewing capability, this screen offered comfortable viewing for all rear seat passenger positions.
2004 Dodge Caravan, Grand Caravan, and Town & Country changes
To celebrate 20 years of minivan leadership, Dodge sold a limited Anniversary edition model based on the SXT, with Anniversary badging, unique two-tone leather seating, six-disc CD/DVD changer, 16-inch chrome wheels, embroidered floor mats, and Rear Seat Video.
Chrysler’s version was the Town & Country Platinum series, based on Touring, with 16-inch chrome-clad platinum finish wheels, two-tone leather seating, Rear Seat Video, six-disc CD/DVD changer, rear cargo organizer, chrome interior door handles, embroidered floor mats, body-color cladding, and badging.
New features for 2004 included a tire pressure monitor warning lamp, an integrated key/remote keyless/Sentry key design, and updated audio/entertainment packages.
For 2004, Chrysler discontinued its Voyager nameplate but continued to offer a standard wheelbase Town & Country minivan with a V6 engine.