This article is essentially an update on my first review of the Chrysler Voyager 2.5 CRD LX that appears in the "Chrysler Voyager in general" section. I had asked them to add a section for the new generation Voyager (2001), but they somehow missed the trick of actually linking it into the Chrysler section. So, if you have found what you are looking for - well done for getting here! INTRODUCTION ------------------------ The all-new Chrysler Voyager/Grand Voyager model range was introduced in March 2001. Building on the strengths of the previous model (styling, space, practicality), the new car offers significant improvements in a number of areas such as safety. The previous engine line-up continues with the 2.4 four-cylinder and 3.3 litre six-cylinder petrol engines. The old 2.5 litre diesel engine, however, has been replaced with a completely newly developed 2.5 litre common-rail turbo diesel engine with improved performance. Three trim levels are available on the new Voyager range: SE, LX and Limited, the latter being available on the Grand version only. EQUIPMENT ------------------------ Even in SE trim, the car is very well equipped, with standard items such as front fog lights, heated and folding door mirrors, day/night rear view mirror, dual zone air conditioning, and floor mats (where would you get those with the standard car these days?). The LX version adds 4 extra stereo speakers (total of 10), alloy wheels, roof rails and a leather covered steering wheel. On the Limited version of the Grand Voyager, luxuries such as electrically powered sliding doors are on offer. PERFORMANCE ------------------------ Our car is a Voyager LX with the 2.5 litre common-rail diesel engine. With 140bhp and 320Nm, this was the most powerful diesel engine available in any MPV in the UK - until the arrival of the new Renault Espace 3.0CDi. The engine is very well suited to the
car and provides more than adequate performance in all situations. The most impressive feature is that maximum torque is available from all but 2000rpm. At 70 mph, the engine revs at less than 2500rpm which makes for very relaxed and comfortable motorway cruising. Having driven a 2.4 litre petrol for a couple of weeks, I would recommend that engine only if you are never in any rush. The lack of torque compared to 2.5 diesel is very noticeable and means that the engine always seems to struggle with the weight of the Voyager. In fact, according to information from American web sites, the 2.4 engine is not recommended for trailer towing. It's reasonably refined, however, and obviously quiter than the diesel. If you want a petrol engine, the 3.3 litre would probably be a better choice. Both petrol engines, however, are let down by their poor fuel economy. DRIVING EXPERIENCE ------------------------ As with most other MPVs, the Voyager provides brilliant visibility at the front due to its large windscreen and elevated driving position. Rear visibility is somewhat limited, however, and it takes some guess work (initially) and practice (eventually) to work out where the car ends. This can be slightly improved by removing some or all of the three head rests when they are not required. OK, the car is no B-road stormer, but this is probably not what most people are asking for from an MPV. 95% of our driving is done around town and on motorways, and this is where the Voyager really excels. The steering is light, if lacking some feeling. The biggest let-downs of the car are the gear box and the engine noise. I have only noticed this recently (my wife has the car 90% of the time), and it is more apparent in town than out on the open road. The gear change is very notchy, especially when changing down, and the gear ratios are all but useless for town driving - you are either having to rev the engine too high or
are ending up with no acceleration since revs are too low. At the same time, the engine emits more than the usual amount of diesel clatter, which is also more noticeable around town. This is really a shame since both problems disappear out of town and on the motorway. In its defence, the 1st gear ratio on the 2.5 diesel models was changed (in August 2001) after the launch of the car to address problems when pulling away from a standstill - if you have or are considering buying an earlier car, your dealer should carry out a modification (different cog and re-programming of engine management system) free of charge. It's worth asking! EXTERIOR ------------------------ Styling is a matter of personal taste, of course, so I will not make comparisons with other MPVs. I will, however, attempt to point out the major differences to the previous Voyager model. In brief, I feel that the car looks more balanced overall; both front and rear light assemblies have increased in size which better suits the overall size of the car, especially in the Grand version. The grille design has also been changed by removing the old model's horizontal "bar" and replacing this with one bigger, chrome-surrounded, curvier grille with a larger Chrysler badge. This gives the car a more elegant and purposeful look. INTERIOR/PRACTICALITY ------------------------ We find the interior a classy and comfortable environment. Air conditioning is standard, of course, and there are no less than 13(!) of those must-have cup holders and numerous other "creature comforts". The seating arrangement is a 2-2-3 set-up, and all accommodation in the first two rows benefits from pilot-style seats (with individual armrests). The third row is a seat bench with three individual 3-point seat belts. Access to the rear seats is via a large sliding door on each side, and the middle row seats pivot forward for easier access to the thi
rd row. Children, however, will find it just as easy to use the ample space between the middle row seats to get access to the rear. Admittedly, boot space is not brilliant with all 7 seats up. However, it is not so much the actual size of the boot, but the fact that the space available is very tall and shallow. Yes, you can get a big pram in it, but you will have to store it upright. The same applies to suitcases, for example. Storing things upright means, in turn, that the luggage cover has to be removed. There are a number of alternatives. First, you can move the rear seat bench forward. This can be done easily by simply pulling a lever and pushing the seat forward until it clicks into position. The luggage cover can also be unclipped and re-attached further forward. This makes for a much larger boot, but obviously limits the legroom in the rear so that only small children will find the space still acceptable. Second, if you do not need all 7 seats, you can move the seat bench to the middle row, and move the two middle seats into the back. The back rests of these seats fold flat, thereby increasing the space available. For yet more space, one or both seats can be removed altogether. What we are really missing here, however, is a split rear seat bench, or at least a split rear back rest for more flexibility. Of course, the problem can be solved once and for all by going for the Grand Voyager with its extra length of ca. 11 inches (291mm, additional 152mm wheelbase). You might be suprised, however, that those extra inches have been partly used to give even more legroom for the 2nd and 3rd row seats; the increase in boot space, is therefore less than it could have been. QUALITY ------------------------ Our car was bought used and is 1 year old with 25,000 miles on the clock. I cannot, therefore, comment on any early niggles or problems when the car was new. However, there are no squeaks or rattles of any kind, no
r have we experienced any problems since we had the car. The overall impression of build quality is excellent; there are no irregular or large panel gaps, nothing has come lose or fallen off. The front doors shut with that reassuring "thunk" that is normally only associated with luxury cars. By the way, all Voyagers for the European market are actually produced in Austria at a plant that is a center of excellence for quality within DaimlerChrysler. MAINTENANCE, COSTS, ETC. ------------------------ Too early for me to tell; we have not had the car for a sufficient length of time. The diesel engine, however, is sufficiently frugal and only needs servicing every 12,000 miles (the petrol engines will have to go in more frequently). I don't expect services to come all that cheaply, though... DEALERS ------------------------ Admi ttedly, the dealer network is not as tightly knit as for most other makes of car. However, most dealers should be within easy reach, and you do not have to miss out even if you live on the Channel Islands. Look at it this way: a dealer who knows that you have travelled a little to get to the showroom will probably treat you with more respect and interest. This was certainly the case out our dealership (Hungerford SV - www.hungerfordsv.co.uk): our inquiry about the car and a test drive were met with interest, enthusiasm and efficient, polite service. The arrangements for the 1st gear modification (see above under "Driving Experience") were also made quickly and efficiently, and the procedure was explained in full detail. Probably not the dealer's fault, but the parts that were required took about 6 weeks to arrive! COMPETITORS ------------------------ No, you will not find a full and objective comparison of all potential contenders here! If you are after detailed information, I can recommend the excellent tool in MSN (htt
p://carview.msn.co.uk/ResearchCentre/). I will, however, make a brief personal statement for the reasons why we chose the Voyager over other MPVs. Please bear with me as you follow our decision-making process... Contender list (by no means complete!): Renault Espace, Ford Galaxy, VW Sharan, Toyota Previa. 1. Engine type All MPVs weigh in rather heavy on the scales, so I feel that diesel engines are the only sensible and economical option for this type of vehicle. The Voyager has the second most powerful one - 2 points to the Voyager 2.5 CRD (140 bhp), 3 point to the Espace 3.0 cDI for coming first. 2. Access to third row seats. Need easy access to third row due to large family (our fault, I know). 2-3-2 arrangements not really suitable since 2nd row seats have to be folded/slid forward every time. Voyager and Toyota Previa have 2-2-3 set-up. 1 point each. 3. Children! Numerous children are probably the most importan t reason for buying an MPV, and certainly were in our case, so the more child-friendly features the better. As I am sure you know, children want to be independent and do everything themselves, including opening car doors. And "bang!" they go against the other cars in the Sainsbury's car park. Solution? Sliding doors, of course. Espace? No. Galaxy? No. Sharan? No. Points again to the Voyager and the Previa. By the way, sliding doors have solid windows, so no more playing around with the electric window switches! 4. Styling OK, OK, totally subjective, I know. But anyway: Espace, even the new model, looks like a TGV train. Ford Galaxy and VW Sharan look more or less the same, and are too indistinct from most other MPVs or indeed other cars. Previa? Another train in disguise. The Voyager it is then. Not necessarily a styling issue, but I could never live with a car that has the main instruments (speedometer, rev counter, fuel gauge, etc.) mounted centr
ally on the dashboard. First, I do not want my wife to be able to constantly check on my speed (not that I ever have anything to hide, of course?), and second, I am more comfortable with having all driver information straight in front of me. SUMMARY ------------------------ If you are looking for a large family MPV, and are not fixed on the standard answers provided by Ford, VW and Renault, the Chrysler Voyager makes for an interesting, stylish and individual alternative. The 2.5 diesel version in LX trim provides the best combination of performance, economy and comfort and offers excellent value. Just be aware of its limitations around town (gearbox).