I took the Chrysler Grand Voyager 2.8 CRD Limited down to Suffolk on a quest to test its capabilities, with five passengers, two of them young kids, looking to find out why it’s the most popular MPV in the world.
Things started well enough, the kids jumped in the back row of seats, grabbed a pair of wireless headphones, and for the next hour and a half sat silently watching a DVD on one of the two overhead TV screens. Don’t worry, we’ll have plenty of time for conversation before they leave home for good, for now they are happy, we are happy.
The Grand Voyager, (as I’m sure you may have noticed) is a wider than average car, not a problem cruising across America on Highway101, but the wind-y Suffolk roads on the way to our destination in Southwold present more of a challenge, especially when you meet something coming the other way.
I found there was some bodyroll on the narrower bends, and it’s definitely happier on a nice straight motorway. I was pleased though with the cars direct steering, and it’s easy to place on the road. Despite it’s van like dimensions the Grand Voyager is a surprisingly maneuverable vehicle.
The 2.8 Diesel Engine in all versions has plenty of power but the 161hp and 265lb/ft of torque means its emmissions are also quite high, pumping out 222 CO2 (g/km), compare this to the 2.0 Ecomotive Seat Alhambra’s 146 CO2 (g/km). This will also affect how much road tax you pay too.
The six-speed automatic gearbox is very nice, fluid and jerk-free, but because of its weight and size braking is something you will need to plan in advance. The high driving position equates to excellent road visibility and the drivers cockpit has evolved over the years into a place optimised for long distances and it’s a very comfortable place to be.
The main dashboard is fairly minimal, with only the necessary dials and small LED display. Unlike most manufacturers, Chrysler have resisted the temptation to use three buttons when just one will suffice. If you do need more things to look at, the touch screen media centre/sat-nav has more than enough buttons to keep you happy, and you can have the radio on in the front while the rest watch a movie in the back.
Trips like this allow you to see how much thought has gone into passenger comfort, and in the case of the Voyager, it’s as much as the drivers, possibly more so. Standard features include flip-up airline style trays on the backs of seats, built-in window blinds, rear seat warmers, compartments in the rear third big enough to house drinks, crayons, sandwiches, basically anything that kids would eventually drop on, or over the seats.
There is good underfloor storage too, perfect for valuable equipment (or smuggling droid parts off Tattooine). The large amount of seating configurations also mean the Voyager is very useful when you need to move big things from A to B, or even to C. Remove all the rear seats and the luggage space is immense.
Access to the car is easy with the second row of seats folding right over, and the electrical rear doors (standard on all models) are invaluable as the doors weigh a ton. Your passengers will still spend two weeks trying to pull them closed, no matter how many times you tell them not too.
A very handy aux/usb connection allows you to hook up pretty much any device to the media centre and the previously mentioned TV screens. Potentially, you could run through a presentation while your sales force munch down Coco Pops on the way to your clients office. No wonder it’s the same car they use to ferry the contestants around on ‘The Apprentice’.
The current (version five) of the Grand Voyager has changed very little since it’s 2008 relaunch. The interior decor has that ’80’s cocktail bar feel, complete with black carpets and black/ gold sparkly paint. The only thing missing is a mirrorball and a drinks cabinet. Yes, it is that cool!
We reached our destination in comfort, the only major incident being when the Sat-Nav re-routed us correctly at a diversion, and a seagull gave a large sign of its approval (in a way only seagulls can).
The Grand Voyager is a tried and tested workhorse tough enough to withstand the batterings of a busy family or fellow work colleagues. It does have stiff competition from the SEAT Alhambra and Ford S-Max, but passed our road-trip test with ‘flying’ colours, and just about edges it. Oh, and the fish and chips were nice too.
Chrysler Grand Voyager 2.8 CRD Limited
0-62pmh (100kmh):12.8 seconds
Top Speed: 115mph
Urban (l/100km) 25.7MPG (11.0)
Extra (l/100km) 40.4MPG (7.0)
Combined (l/100km) 33.6MPG (8.4)
For more info visit www.chrysler.co.uk/grandvoyager