1994 Isuzu Oasis
This year, American new-vehicle shoppers will snap up about half a million minivans. Now, while that may seem like a lot of people-movers, it’s worth noting that minivans accounted for more than 1.2 million annual sales as recently as model-year 2000.
Mostly supplanted by more stylish and AWD-available crossovers today, minivans once accounted for more than half as many sales as did midsize cars or large pickup trucks.
Then, as now, you had your predictable cluster of popular minivans including the Dodge Caravan, the Honda Odyssey, and the Toyota Sienna. But what you had then, for a while, was an enormous cadre of vans vying for chunk of that profitable-looking million-unit pie.
Here we have collected no fewer than 30 minivan models that have come and gone since Chrysler introduced the game-changing Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager way back in 1984.
How many of these short-timers can you recall? Did we miss one? Shoot us a note or leave a comment below. We want this post to be as inclusive as possible.
More forgotten vehicles
2005-2007 Buick Terraza
Buick’s short-lived minivan was meant to look like a crossover, and was marketed as such. Shoppers saw through the ruse, and opted to pass on this odd duck.
1985-2002 Chevrolet Astro
Originally rushed to market as a foil against Chrysler’s popular vans, the rear-drive Astro enjoyed a long life as commercial vehicle as well as a people-mover.
1989-1997 Lumina APV
Chicago Tribune auto writer Jim Mateja referred to the Lumina APV and corporate cousin Pontiac Trans Sport as the Dust Buster vans. Despite being clad in dent-resistant body panels shopper reaction was decidedly tepid.
1997-2005 Chevrolet Venture
Decidedly more conventional-looking than the Lumina APV, which it replaced, the Venture carved a decent-sized chunk of the minivan market out for itself. A lack of side airbags would dull sales toward the end of this van’s run.
2005-2009 Chevrolet Uplander
Like its corporate cousins the Buick Terazza, Pontiac Montana, and Saturn Relay, Uplander was meant to look SUV-ish, but shoppers would have none of it. Sales were slow and Uplander was eventually replaced by the popular Traverse crossover.
2002-2003 Chrysler Voyager
The Voyager name outlived the Plymouth brand for two years as the lonely minivan icon soldiered on as an entry-level alternative to the Chrysler Town & Country. A modestly equipped T & C model would supplant the Voyager for the 2004 model year.
1984-2007 Dodge Caravan
As of 2008, Dodge no longer sold a standard-wheelbase non-“Grand” version of its iconic minivan. Both the Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country are still available, but only in a single, longer “grander” body style.
1986-1997 Ford Aerostar
Like the Chevrolet Astro, the Aerostar was hastily conceived to do battle with Chrysler’s hyper-popular Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. And, like the Astro, Aerostar was rear-drive, and saw reasonable action as a commercial vehicle.
Tarnished Stars: Three Second-Tier Vans With First-Tier Names
2004-2007 Ford Freestar
A mild update of the Windstar (see below), the van’s name was changed to Freestar when Ford marketing types decided all Ford model names should begin with an F. Really.
1995-2003 Ford Windstar
A Ford staple for most of a decade, the Windstar never sold as well as Chrysler’s popular vans, but it held its own.
1985-2002 GMC Safari
A mechanical twin to the Chevrolet Astro, the Safari proved popular with van-conversion upfitters, and, thanks to a stout 4.3-liter V6, folks who did a lot of towing, as well.
2007-2009 Hyundai Entourage
The Entourage came late to the minvan party, and then left early. Mechanically similar to the Kia Sedona, Entourage netted a few shoppers thanks primarily to value pricing.
1996-1999 Isuzu Oasis
A thinly disguised Honda Odyssey, the Oasis was part of a product swap that had Honda selling the Isuzu Rodeo as the Honda Passport and the Isuzu Trooper as the Acura SLX.
2002-2012 Kia Sedona
Something of a bargain for most of its run, the Sedona was dropped from Kia’s U.S. lineup after the 2012 model year. Kia plans to bring the Sedona back for ’15, though mostly for sale into rental fleets.
1989-1999 Mazda MPV (Part 1)
Almost more SUV than minivan, the MPV sported conventional rear doors and available AWD. A slow seller, the MPV has an almost cultlike following of very happy owners.
2000-2006 Mazda MPV (Part 2)
Thought now front-drive and fitted with sliding side doors, the second-generation MPV still bucked minivan convention by being smaller than most of the competition.
2004-2007 Mercury Monterey
Seems that gilding a Ford Freestar and selling it as a Mercury was not a formula for sales success. This short-lived van was one of the Mercury brand’s last new models.
1993-2003 Mercury Villager
Shown here in inexplicably popular Nautica trim, the tidy-sized Villager was really a retrimmed Nissan Quest. A 1998 redesign brought with it a new, larger standard V6 engine and a 5-inch overall-length stretch.
1987-1990 Mitsubishi Wagon and Van
A stubby body and super-short wheelbase make for great urban maneuverability, but not a great U.S.-market minivan. These “urban vans” were hastily modified from Japanese-market products to lure some of the shoppers heading off to purchase Dodge Caravans and Plymouth Voyagers. Predictably, sales were limited.
Review Flashback! 1973 Dodge Sportsman (mini) Van
1987-1990 Nissan Van
Like the Mitsubishi Wagon and Van, the Nissan Van was a hastily adapted home-market van rushed to the U.S. to take advantage of the nascent minivan boom.
1990-2004 Oldsmobile Silhouette
Made popular by an odd guest-starring role in the motion picture Get Shorty the Silhouette shared its plastic-panel body and basic architecture with the Chevrolet Lumina APV and Pontiac Trans Sport.
1984-2000 Plymouth Voyager
One of the original minivans, and also one of the best-selling, Voyager sales came to a close in 2002, having been marketed as a Chrysler for its last two years in production.
1990-1998 Pontiac Trans Sport
One of General Motors’ “Dust Buster” vans, the Trans Sport is seen here sporting the lower-body cladding that Pontiac would affix to a number of vehicles (think Grand Am) of the same era.
1999-2004 Pontiac Montana
Formerly a Trans Sport trim level, Montana became the model name for Pontiac’s minivan for 1999. Montana shed its Dust Buster look, but not the Pontiac trademark body cladding.
2005-2009 Pontiac Montana SV6
Sporting a proboscis meant to emulate the look of an SUV, Pontiac’s minivan was redesigned for 2005, picking up the meaningless SV6 suffix in the process. The Montana SV6 would stay in production pretty much up until Pontiac shut its doors for good.
2005-2007 Saturn Relay
Relay really wasn’t much of a Saturn. It wasn’t plastic-clad, it was heavily rebated, and it was sold through a dealer network that no longer was known for its customer-satisfaction prowess. In short, Relay was just another General Motors van.
1991-1997 Toyota Previa
Based on the Toyota Van (below), Previa suffered from the tiny van’s limitations, including a mid-engine design that precluded offering a V6 because the engine bay was too narrow. Shoppers looking for more power could opt for the rather rare supercharged S/C model.
1984-1989 Toyota Van
Like the Mitsubishi and Nissan vans above, the Toyota Van was a place-holder people-mover imported Stateside until a more market-appropriate minivan could be made ready.
1980-1991 Volkswagen Vanagon
Vanagon actually predated the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager by half a decade, but never saw similar sales numbers. A spiritual successor to the Volkswagen Bus, the Vanagon shared that van’s rear-engine/rear-drive design, but not its air-cooled engines.
1993-2003 Volkswagen Eurovan
More conventional than the Vanagon, the Eurovan featured a front-engine/front-drive design and available V6 power. Despite its charms, the Eurovan was too expensive for most American minivan consumers, limiting sales.
2009-2012 Volkswagen Routan
A thinly but nicely disguised Chrysler Town & Country, the Routan never caught the attention of shoppers. Fun fact: Equipped with the standard 3.8-liter V6, Routan became the first Volkswagen with an overhead-valve engine sold in the U.S. since the Beetle.
See Consumer Guide’s minivan Best Buys
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