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Dodge Caravan pickup?

by Bill Cawthon on

Road & Track’s Jack Baruth wrote that the Dodge Grand Caravan could live on as a pickup when its long run as a minivan comes to an end (though now it seems that end is further away than it used to be).

Dodge Caravan based pickup

In “How the Dodge Caravan Could Become the Pickup Truck America Needs,” Baruth wrote that replacing the back rows with a pickup bed would create a new truck with a minimal investment, using a good deal of existing tooling. It would meet the needs of many buyers, with better fuel economy and easier parking than a full-size truck; and would make it easier to keep the Caravan for Canadians.

It’s not quite as simple as Baruth makes it sound, though. The original Honda Ridgeline was derived from the Odyssey and the Pilot, and the newest version shares with the Pilot. Honda still had to strengthen the structure. FCA would have to do the same to give the Caravan a true half-ton payload.

No? How about a Charger-based pickup?

Furthermore, the vast majority of pickup sales are extended-cabs or crew-cabs. Leaving the second row of seats in a Caravan will leave a rather small pickup bed.

The major concern would be sales. The Ridgeline is the almost the slowest-moving pickup in the U.S. market. Only the GMC Canyon has a lower volume, and it’s a badge-engineered Colorado. Beyond that, the combined sales of all the mid-size pickups were 23,000 units shy of total Ram deliveries in the first quarter alone. A Caravan might do little more than cannibalize low-end Ram sales and divert development time and funds from a higher-potential vehicle.

Perhaps the Durango would be a better candidate?

Durango based pickup

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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