Garry Fabian road tests and reviews the 2014 Chrysler Grand Voyager.
Those who need seating for the family or perhaps a small sporting team should be looking to the Chrysler Grand Voyager as a viable option.
Its combination of diesel engine offering fuel economy, flexible seating options and ample storage capacity is hard to beat, and its standard equipment list adds to the Grand Voyager package.
But whether the soft-edged dynamics and noisy diesel engine impact on their decision is the question.
While its square, decidedly American styling may not excite, the Grand Voyager does have a lot going for it when comfort and convenience are considered.
There are two versions - Grand Voyager LX, which is priced from $57,500 and the Limited which starts at $77,500.
Both Grand Voyagers share the same 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder power unit, coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission and driving the front wheels.
Both versions offer Chrysler’s well-resolved Stow ’n Go cabin system that allows both second and third seating rows to be stowed completely flat, opening a mammoth 3296 litres of storage space.
When the seats are upright, the under-floor storage bins come into play. In short, this is one versatile load space, the second-row captain’s chairs providing a particularly stately ambience.
Though the price step-up to the Limited is a little on the steep side, it does offer an extended standard equipment list over the LX, including leather trim and all rear passengers can be entertained by Chrysler’s mobile theatre multimedia system.
This system incorporates two nine-inch, drop-down high-definition multimedia screens which offer DVD playback. A nine-speaker Infinity audio system with a 506W amplifier compliments the theatre system.
The Limited also has a reversing camera with rear park assist, tri-zone climate control, phone with Bluetooth, a voice-controllable media centre with 30GB hard drive, heated elements for front and middle-row occupants, an audible alert for the twin powered sliding doors (which can be operated via the key fob) and powered, heated exterior mirrors.
It rides on 17-inch alloys and uses self-levelling HID headlamps.
In the front, the North American feel is immediately apparent. There’s a grab handle for the driver, rather than the passenger, and the transmission gate’s operation feels reversed, pushing the lever away from rather than towards the driver to select a gear.
Put the Chrysler into drive and the diesel does deliver the power you would expect, but unlike other modern diesel engines, it tends to bit on the noisy side, which is disappointing.
Contributing to the improved open-road economy is the adaptability of the six-speed automatic gearbox. A little less on the smooth side initially, with an awkward habit of holding first and second for overly-long periods, then slipping through third into fourth almost immediately.
One aspect of the Grand Voyager experience that surprises – especially in the context of its more modern competition – is its dynamic balance.
The self-levelling suspension system is accommodating of various loads, but it also retains a supple ride.
There is also decent, consistent weight coming through the large-rimmed steering wheel. Of course, the Grand Voyager is no paragon of cornering grip, but that’s not its intent.
While some of the seven-seaters tend to be a little cramped in the third row, in the Voyager the third-row seating is adequate even for an adult. There is plenty of width for two grown-ups, or three children, and its occupants are well catered for with the theatre system, air vents, window blinds, cup holders and storage bins.
Knee room is excellent, and little ones can walk through between the second-row captain’s chairs with ease.
The convenience of being able to fold this rear section flat with one touch of a button is also tremendously practical, as is the addition of a torch to the rear compartment to make packing and unpacking a cinch, even in the dark.
Both first and second-row occupants, of course, have all the cabin width and height they could ask for, the second-row also gaining its own climate control functions. Coat hooks are very easy to locate.
All in all, the latest Chrysler Grand Voyager is a highly curious mix of thoughtful and thoughtless. It does many things well, but there are simply too many oddities bringing its overall rating down. And when you factor in price, you have to conclude that there are more complete people-moving options out there.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 2.8 litre turbo-diesel producing 120kW and 360Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Safety: Not tested
Price: From $57,500
For further information, please see Recalls and faults: Chrysler RT Grand Voyager.