Chrysler may not have invented the minivan, but it sure did put a lot of them in America’s driveways—more than 13 million of the bratwagons by Chrysler’s count since the first Dodge Caravan (and its badge-engineered twin, the Plymouth Voyager) broke cover for the 1984 model year. Those first minivans were truly fun-size—lightweight, front-wheel-driven, four-cylinder–powered, and no lengthier bumper to bumper than a mid-1980s Honda Accord—but with way more usable space inside for seven passengers and their stuff than the competing station wagons of the day. And because they were based on car components, the early Chrysler Group minivans drove like, and achieved similar fuel economy to, cars.
Early sales success begat competition. Before long the Caravan had an extended-wheelbase Grand Caravan sibling with more space, and in 1989, the first luxury minivan, the Chrysler Town & Country was introduced. As features were added, dual sliding doors replaced single ones, V-6 power was added, doors and liftgates became power-operated, and seats not only folded and flipped, but disappeared into the floor. Cup holders spread like mushrooms and so did video systems to pacify the peanut gallery.