Chrysler Voyager SE Car Reviews | NRMA Motoring & Services

25 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Chrysler Voyager SE Car Reviews | NRMA Motoring & Services
Chrysler Grand Voyager

Chrysler Voyager

SE Car Review

The Chrysler Corporation is slowly regaining its name in the Australian automotive industry after its local demise nearly twenty years ago. Chrysler’s reintroduction into this country commenced with its Jeep four wheel drive, followed by its Neon passenger sedan and now the Voyager family wagon or Minivan, as it is known.

Family wagons have become a popular concept for families greater than five people and even for those needing to transport other relations as well as their immediate family. Chrysler claims to have sold 538 000 Voyagers in the US during 1996 and has forecast an annual sales figure of 900 units representing a 15% share of the local family wagon market.

The fully imported Voyager, built in USA, is available in only one model at present, its main competitors being Tarago, Odyssey, MPV and Starwagon. The SE model as tested with standard air conditioning, ABS, dual airbags and power front windows, is priced at $44 800. A higher specification LE model will be available later this year.

Features and Equipment

The Voyager features a 3.3 litre OHV fuel injected V6 engine, the largest capacity engine of all vehicles in this class. Fitted across the engine bay, it allows better aerodynamics and keeps the overall length to a minimum.

The electronic four speed automatic transmission used behind the V6 engine is state of the art, utilising feedback via various sensors to continually monitor gear changes and drive requirements. Rapid application of this information ensures smooth shifts and take-offs.

MacPherson struts are incorporated in the front suspension, connected at the lower end by cast iron control arms mounted in rubber bushes. The rear consists of a beam axle mounted on mono-leaf springs and tubular shock absorbers. Anti-roll bars fitted front and rear, combined with wide wheel tracks, contribute to the vehicle’s stability.

Braking on the Voyager consists of power assisted front discs and rear drums, complemented by a four-sensor anti-lock system fitted as standard equipment.

Body and Finish

The Voyager’s body styling is quite pleasing and not unlike its main competitor, the Tarago. Chrysler has endeavoured to satisfy potential buyers’ requirements in the design of the Voyager, aiming to make it as car-like as possible. Visibility, controls, equipment and drivability are all areas that needed to be as near to car look and feel as possible, to attract buyers into this type of vehicle.

All glassware is flush with the exterior body panels giving a smooth overall appearance.

Considerable engineering has gone into the sliding doors on both sides, making them user friendly and safe to operate with occupant safety in mind. Despite the large openings in each side to house the generous sliding doors, Chrysler claim its body structure is exceptionally light and torsionally stiff.

Versatility is also high on the priority list, enabling quick conversion from maximum passenger space to maximum cargo area by quick action latches on the second and third row seats, allowing complete removal in a few seconds.

Considerable effort has been expended in sheet metal treatment to prevent body corrosion, by galvanising all panels exposed to the environment and applying a heavy coating of zinc phosphate primer. Environmentally friendly waterbase paints are used exclusively with claimed superior gloss and brilliance over solvent based alternatives. The paintwork features complete body antichip protection to minimise stone damage.

The power operated external rear vision mirrors are electrically heated and have a function which enables them to be folded flat against the body at the push of a button. This assists when manoeuvring in tight positions. Another power function is the rear quarter windows which are opened and closed by means of motorised bell-cranks, controlled by a switch on the driver’s door armrest.

Safety and security measures have been incorporated including driver and front passenger airbags, head restraints on all seating positions, adjustable anchor points for front and intermediate outer seat belts, reinforced side impact beams, automatic door locking, remote controlled central door locking and transponder type engine immobiliser.

Comfort and Space

The front seats are comfortable in most respects with good natural lumbar support, although they do lack side support, offset to some degree by the armrests mounted on the inner edges.

Taller than average drivers and passengers may experience some discomfort with the amount of leg room available although it is sufficient for those of average build. The intermediate row provides seating for two passengers only, sacrificing the third position for access to the third row. Although three seatbelts are provided in the rear, the occupants would have to be of slim build.

Access to the rearmost seat is difficult due to the position of the intermediate seat, as it is mounted on the left side of the vehicle making it necessary to enter this row from the right or traffic side of the vehicle. Ample storage is provided, with an abundance of cup holders, coat hanger hooks and storage bins, including a slide-out drawer under the driver’s seat and storage compartments in the rearmost seat armrests.

Behind the Wheel

The driver’s position has moderate head and leg room and the seat and steering column adjustments enable reasonable comfort. Forward and side vision is quite clear; however, the view through the rear window and the interior mirror is somewhat hampered by the abundance of head restraints at all rear seat positions.

The instrument panel is simple and easy to read and although some drivers may have to stretch to reach some dash controls, I found most to be within easy reach with the exception of the handbrake and gear selector. Both of these are results of what I consider to be a budget right hand drive conversion.

The handbrake is next to the passenger’s seat and as well as being hard to reach, it is difficult to get enough leverage for full application.

The gear selector, positioned on the right hand side of the steering column is awkward to operate and when used to select lower gears for braking, etc, the lever fouled my right leg. Having to push a button every time I wanted to check the trip meter was also an annoying feature.

The pedal area is somewhat confined with the intrusion of the right front wheel well on the right and the odd shaped footrest on the left. The pedals are also offset to the left making it difficult to make a quick jab for the brake pedal without connecting with the accelerator at the same time.

The internal sunvisors leave a large 400 mm gap above and around the mirror, an area which is unshielded from the sun.

Chrysler Grand Voyager

On the Road

Although basic in design, the 3.3 OHV V6 engine performs smoothly giving better than average performance compared with other family wagons, without a fuel consumption penalty.

Chrysler has excelled in the design and operation of its automatic transmission and I believe it is one of the smoothest shifting transmissions I have experienced in a vehicle of this level. The only indication of a shift occurring, in most cases, is the perception of acceleration and the change in engine revs.

I was impressed with the handling ability of the Voyager considering it equal to any sedan vehicle of similar size. Its handling ability is complemented by the excellent ride quality it provides. It matters little whether the surface is bitumen or loose gravel, as it is surefooted on either and soaks up the road imperfection with ease.

The handling ability, ride quality and the brake system anti-lock facility, provide a safe confident package that would appeal to most drivers.

The front disc and rear drum brake system functions quite well under most conditions, although considerable pedal pressure is required under some circumstances. Some of this could be partly due to the softness and offset of the brake pedal causing the driver’s foot to catch the accelerator under heavy braking. This did not engender a lot of confidence under heavy braking and, combined with the amount of heat that emanated from the front brakes during our test, gave me the impression there was not a lot of reserve.

The column gear selector functions satisfactorily, provided you are content to leave it in the drive position. However, if you are inclined to manually select gears at times, it is not only awkward, but uncomfortable.

Whilst the cruise control buttons set into the steering wheel hub are very functional, the overall operation tends to be a little erratic. Because of the lack of engine braking, it quickly overruns the set speed on a downhill run and on the uphill grade, resumes acceleration at up to ten km/h lower than the set speed.

Servicing

Under the bonnet of the Voyager would have to be described as service unfriendly. The OHV V6 engine is crammed sideways into the engine bay with the rear bank of cylinders and alternator under the dash, making access to the rear bank of spark plugs, fuel injectors and alternator a major operation.

Further evidence of a budget conversion, is the positioning of the brake master cylinder on the left side of the engine compartment and the heavy cross-over linkage from the brake pedal on the right.

Servicing is scheduled at 12,000 km intervals for vehicles operating under normal conditions and 5,000 km for severe service vehicles. Manufacturer’s warranty is for 3 years or 60,000 km.

Towing

The maximum towing mass has been nominated at 1600 kg, slightly under the unladen mass of the Voyager. Although Chrysler does not specify a maximum towball mass, it does state that it must be included as part of the gross trailer mass. When towing trailers with a laden mass exceeding 450 kg it is recommended that trailer brakes are fitted and a load equalising hitch used.

Summary

Although not greatly affecting the vehicle’s performance or reliability in any way, there are a number of small features on the Voyager that could be become annoying over a period of time. Hopefully these issues will be addressed in successive models resulting in an excellent all round family wagon.

Chrysler Grand Voyager
Chrysler Grand Voyager
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