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2017 minis: too pricey?

by David Zatz on

Recently, Automotive News’ Larry Vellequette reported that Chrysler planned to boost the price their least expensive minivan to around $26,000. This resulted in an extensive discussion on Allpar’s forums, with some outrage over the high entry price.

Going back to 2000, when minivan sales were still thriving and Chrysler was the undisputed king of the North American mini-market, we see the official list price of the long-wheelbase Dodge Caravan — the cheapest of the Chrysler Group vans at the time — cost $21,790 plus a destination charge (in the continental US) of $790.

Adjusted for inflation, that’s $29,600 or so today… plus the destination charge, which is now $995.

You may ask whether, at those high prices, Chrysler Group sold any minivans at all.  In fact, they sold 484,000 minivans in 2000, down somewhat as Plymouth Voyager was moved to Chrysler. In recent years, Dodge (low end) and Chrysler (high end) have run neck and neck in sales, in the U.S.

minivan sales by year

Short wheelbase minivans were still available from Dodge then — they were not dropped until the 2008 redesign. Those cost $18,685 back in 2000. Today, that would be $25,687. Yes, that’s less than $26,000, but they had far fewer standard features,  a four-speed automatic rather than the upcoming nine-speed, a much less powerful engine, and, of course, far less space…and, most likely, far inferior fuel economy. Most buyer would probably cough up that extra $313 for the upgrades.

Perhaps $26,000 minivans aren’t as expensive as they seemed on first glance… especially when the cheapest Honda Odyssey starts at $28,975.

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