Where Have All the Grands Gone?

2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee

CARS.COM — Some nameplates last a long, long time. Witness the Ford Mustang, around since 1964. Or the Chevrolet Suburban, the longest running nameplate in the world at 81 years old. But some nameplates burn brightly and then fade from memory as tastes and styles change — like the Dodge Grand Caravan. The imminent discontinuation of the Dodge-brand minivan in favor of the new Chrysler Pacifica will see the elimination of one of the most popular nameplates in the U.S. and got us to thinking that not many cars are named "grand" anything these days.

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The only one left in production is the popular Jeep Grand Cherokee, which seems set to soldier on for the foreseeable future, printing money for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (we'll give an honorable mention to BMW's Gran Coupe models and the new Corvette Grand Sport trim, as well).

So, where have all the Grands gone? We took a moment to remember eight of the more recent Grands that we've lost, including one that never really even got started here in the U.S. market.

Dodge Grand Caravan, 1987-2016

2000 Dodge Grand Caravan

"Grand," when used in an automotive context, can denote a larger or more opulent version of an existing vehicle. This was the case with the Dodge Grand Caravan, a longer version of the Dodge Caravan minivan that arrived three years after the shorter model debuted in 1984. Featuring more cargo room behind the rear row than the regular Caravan, the optional longer-wheelbase Grand Caravan model became the only offering when Dodge killed the short-wheelbase model in 2008.

Jeep Grand Wagoneer, 1984-91

Jeep Grand Wagoneer

One of the progenitors of the SUV craze of the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Grand Wagoneer was a massive, V-8 powered off-road wagon that originally appeared in 1963. The Wagoneer's highest trim level, the Grand Wagoneer, became the only model sold by 1984 and continued until its cancellation in 1991, when the Grand Cherokee replaced it. This is a nameplate that we may actually see return soon — Fiat Chrysler is reportedly working on a seven-passenger Jeep model above the Grand Cherokee that may see the Grand Wagoneer name ride again.

Suzuki Grand Vitara, 1999-2013

2004 Suzuki Grand Vitara

Originally known as the Suzuki Sidekick, it was the larger brother to the much-maligned Suzuki Samurai SUV. The transition from Sidekick to Grand Vitara saw the SUV gain two doors and a fixed roof; it left the market when Suzuki folded up operations here in 2013.

Buick Grand National, 1982-87

1987 Buick GNX

Take one Buick Regal coupe (back when there were rear-wheel-drive Buick Regal coupes), stuff a hotter engine into it, slap some special paint and aero bits on it, and name it after a NASCAR racing series. By the end of the run, the GNX model was producing 300 horsepower and 420 pounds-feet of torque from a turbocharged, intercooled V-6. That was the Buick Grand National and there isn't a Buick media event that goes by where a veteran automotive journalist doesn't ask Buick public relations when they're going to make a new one. Don't hold your breath, folks.

Pontiac Grand Prix, 1962-2008

2002 Pontiac Grand Prix

The Grand Prix started out as a big, rear-wheel-drive model in the now-defunct Pontiac brand's portfolio and ended up a midsize sedan that was actually a respectable performer. The most recent one was a front-wheel-drive sedan with an optional 5.3-liter V-8, but perhaps the best-looking one was the 1964 coupe.

Pontiac Grand Am, 1973-2005 (non-continuous)

2003 Pontiac Grand Am

Like the Grand Prix, the Grand Am started out as a midsize rear-wheel-drive car that eventually shrank to a front-wheel-drive compact by the time Pontiac was on the outs in the late 2000s. The fifth and final generation embodied everything that was wrong with Pontiac (crummy material quality, bloated styling) and nobody lamented its passing.

Mercury Grand Marquis, 1975-2011

2000 Mercury Grand Marquis

Another example of "Grand" being used to denote a nicer version of a basic model, the Grand Marquis was the flagship for the Mercury brand in 1975, a more posh version of the Mercury Marquis sedan. It became its own model in 1979 when it was separated from the downsized Marquis and became the official car of grandparents everywhere.

Ford Grand C-Max, DOA

Ford Grand C-Max

This one was aborted before we ever saw it. The Ford C-Max Hybrid was introduced to America in 2012 as a hybrid-only five-passenger tall CUV, but it was supposed to have had a longer-wheelbase, seven-passenger non-hybrid model joining it in U.S. showrooms. Called the Grand C-Max and available in Europe, it was a micro-minivan of sorts with sliding side doors, but Ford killed it before production could begin in here.

 

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