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Chrysler celebrates 25 years of minivans

by David Zatz on

Employees, union officials, and city representatives joined reporters this morning at the Windsor Assembly Plant to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Chrysler minivans. Manufacturing chief Frank Ewasyshyn unveiled 25th anniversary editions of the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan, to be made available later in the model year.

25th-anniversary

Over 12 million Chrysler minivans have been sold worldwide, and, if Chrysler and Dodge models are combined, Chrysler still dominates the segment in sales, and also can claim the highest gas mileage in the segment.

Production began on November 2, 1983, at Windsor, after six years of engineering and study. The “magic wagon” depended on a front-engine, front-wheel drive design, a low flat-load floor with chair-height seating and walk-through access from front-row to second-row, a sliding door, and a “garageable” size. One breakthrough was the decision to use a four cylinder engine, reducing weight and allowing greater interior space for the same exterior size.

The fifth generation minivans have best-in-class aerodynamics (Cd of 0.33) to improve fuel efficiency and a minivan-first six-speed automatic transmission (with the 4 liter engine), with the segment’s best combination of horsepower (251 hp) and torque (259 ft.-lb.) and an EPA fuel economy rating of 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway – far better than the original, smaller, 2.2-powered models.

The 2009 Anniversary Editions feature new interior appointments. A combination of wood trim on the instrument panel and doors accent satin finishes and provide a sense of detail. New seats feature perforated leather with French-seamed seat stitching. Additional standard features include minivan-first Stow ’n Go seating and storage system, heated first- and second-row seats, uconnect studios Sirius Satellite Radio, “25th Anniversary Edition” badges and unique 17-inch wheels and tires.

Allpar will (if our reporter was able to attend as planned) provide unique coverage of the event next week.

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