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Click to view road test review picture galleryChrysler’s new Grand
  Voyager is better in
  numerous ways. And
  with room for seven
  in its well-specified
  interior, it’s not hard
  to see why Grand
  Voyager customers
  keep coming back for

CHRYSLER'S ALL-NEW GRAND VOYAGER MPV IS NOT ONLY A SEVEN-SEATER PEOPLE CARRIER but, says Chrysler, the safest and most luxurious Grand Voyager yet. Equally good news for customers is that the starting price for the revised range remains the same 25,995 and represents an 8.2 per cent increase in added value over the cheapest outgoing Grand Voyager.

In the past, the Grand Voyager has not been rated highly in the Euro NCAP ratings for passenger safety — just 1.5 stars out of a possible five stars for adult occupancy, zero stars for pedestrian safety but four stars for child occupant safety. In fairness, the outgoing Grand Voyager was only tested for safety ratings near the end of its pro-duction life. When it was designed and first introduced, the Euro NCAP system was only in its infancy.

Chrysler UK has said: "We take Euro NCAP very seriously and the other new cars recently introduced by our Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands have achieved better ratings. The new Grand Voyager has yet to be tested but we expect it will also achieve considerably improved ratings. We cannot guess at this stage what they will be. However, the new Grand Voyager is longer and much of that added length has been taken up by improved crash protection front and rear and the vehicle has even more airbags than before."

In the USA, the Grand Voyager MPV is classed as a 'Mini Van' and 12 million of them have been sold worldwide since it was launched in 1983. The vehicle came to the UK in 1997 and UK customers have to date bought 51,000 of them. The Grand Voyager is Chrysler's best-selling model range in the UK, accounting for around 5,000 sales a year, predominately to retail customers although they are also favoured by the business hire-and-reward and chauffeur markets.

The Grand Voyager sells in the large MPV sector — which has seen sales decline in recent years — as opposed to mid-sized MPVs, where sales have increased as customers downsize because of increased running costs that are due to higher fuel prices and higher taxation. The Grand Voyager has around a 15 per cent share of the large MPV sector in the UK and sells against such models as the Volkswagen Caravelle, Mercedes Viano, Renault Grand Espace and Ford Galaxy.

Value for money is one of the Grand Voyager's main selling points and against similar specification models. The cheapest LX version offers 23.3 per cent better like-for-like specification over the Caravelle, 13 per cent over the Viano and 4.2 per cent over the Grand Espace.
The Galaxy is 3.8 per cent cheaper. Like-for-like price comparisons for other more expensive Grand Voyager variants against rival models
show similar advantages.

The new Chrysler Grand Voyager seven seat, five-door large MPV is big — over 5 metres long, 1.8 metres high, 1.95 metres wide and weighs over 2.7 tonnes.

The principal reasons customers buy the Grand Voyager is that they have a real need for seven seats, whether they are a large family or a family with children who have lots of friends, or businesses who offer chauffeur or Private Hire services. The other main reason to buy the Grand Voyager over its competitors is the very high level of specific-ation that even the standard models offer at a relatively-competitive price in this segment.

New Grand Voyager prices start at 25,995 and rise to 32,995. Three of the four variants use a revised 2.8-litre CRD four-cylinder turbo-diesel VM Motori-supplied engine with increased power of 161bhp and 265lb ft of torque from 1,600rpm.

There are three levels of specification: LX, Touring and Limited, with the majority of buyers going for the 2.8 CRD Limited variant costing 32,995. All versions use a new six-speed automatic transmission which replaces the old four-speed unit.

All models offer seven seats as standard, arranged with two seats at the front, two individual seats in the middle row and three seats at the rear. There is also luggage space to meet the needs of a large family: the cargo capacity ranges from 756 to 3,296 litres — depending on which seats are in use or whether they are folded away out of sight into the floor using Chrysler's excellent, and unique, Stow 'n' Go system. Chrysler is also introducing, for Limited versions, a new Swivel 'n' Go seating system that allows the middle row of two individual seats to be turned through 180 degrees to face the rear. These Captain's-type seats also come with a floor-mounted table that can be used by the three rear row passengers and the two central passengers — very user-friendly for big families or business users on the move.

Access to the passenger compartment is through electrically-operated sliding side doors and there is a large full-height tailgate at the rear for ease of loading.

Altogether there are over thirty new features in the all-new Grand Voyager models, ranging from the latest technology multi-media sys-tems to heated first and second row seats, a rear-view interior con-versation mirror, a removable torch, electric windows in the sliding side doors, directional LED reading lamps and automatic three-zone climate control for all passengers. Passenger safety is well catered for, with traction control, anti-lock braking, electronic stability control, tyre-pressure monitoring, front and all-row side curtain airbags as well as Isofix child seat fixings. Stain and odour resistant cloth upholstery is used when the leather trim is not chosen.

Dual DVD entertainment and DVD navigation systems are optional but about 60 per cent of Grand Voyager customers add these extras.

The Grand Voyager is physically huge and the list of features it offers is also huge — although the price doesn't reflect the size or the high equipment levels. Over 30,000 is not cheap but, in the context of what the vehicle offers, it is unquestionably good value for money for people who genuinely need seven seats.

All is not so positive though. Both the diesel and petrol engines have high CO2 emission levels, so all models fall into Band G of Vehicle Excise Duty which will mean an annual fee of 400 from 1 April this year. The Grand Voyager will also be subject to the 25 per day London Con-gestion Charge when it comes into force.

On the driving and performance front, this vehicle has the design and construction architecture of a van as opposed to a passenger car —
in the States they are classed as a Mini Van. The latest design looks slab-sided and not as aerodynamic as the outgoing model. However, the body colours and privacy glass (where fitted), alloy wheels and chrome-work together do their best to give this vehicle a prestigious look.

Do not expect car-like handling. It just isn't that sort of vehicle — it is a people-mover, a family taxi. The main-selling 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine can be noisy and harsh when pushed, but the use of a new six-speed automatic transmission smoothes out gear changes and makes the vehicle reasonably responsive in town and relaxed for motorway journeys. Power output is 161bhp and there is 265lb ft of torque from 1,600rpm, so this heavyweight doesn't feel underpowered. Top speed is 115mph and 0-62mph is covered in a respectable 12.8 seconds. The average fuel economy is claimed to be 30.4mpg and my test vehicle returned 28.2mpg in fairly typical UK driving conditions.

The Chrysler Grand Voyager has a faithful following of customers in the UK who have the real need for transporting up to seven people. For them, expensive CO2 emission levels and 25-a-day Congestion Charge will be necessary evils. The only other main complaint is that it's some-thing of a bulky heavyweight to drive. However, more than compen-sating for this is the space and the huge array of fixtures and fittings supplied as standard for an attractive price relative to the high equip-ment levels.

More good news is the improved safety equipment and the likelihood
of a higher NCAP passenger safety rating than the outgoing model. Another important feature — easily overlooked — is that not only
is there roomy seating for seven, but there is load space to match.
Add in the improved automatic transmission and the more upmarket interior trim and it's not hard to see why Grand Voyager customers keep coming back for more. — David Miles

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Chrysler Grand Voyager 2.8 CRD Limited | 32,995
Maximum speed: 115mph | 0-62mph: 12.8 seconds
Overall test MPG: 28.2mpg | Power: 161bhp | Torque: 265lb ft

CO2 247g/km

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