Is this an all-new model then?
Yes. Chrysler has lengthened the wheelbase and claims to have made at least 30 major improvements to its popular people carrier. The most important of these is a comfier, more supple ride and better refinement. The newly independent firm has also worked hard at making the Grand Voyager even more family-friendly. The highlight of this is the all-new, and unique-to-Chrysler, Swivel ’n Go system.
Sounds a bit rude
Yes the insulting implications seem to have been lost on the Americans who dreamt it up. Swivel ’n Go is actually their seating system which is a development of Stow ’n Go. Now as well as folding into the floor, the two middle seats turn through 180 degrees so passengers in the second row can face the back. The seatbelts have been integrated into the chairs so you can travel facing backwards too. And there’s also a nifty table that screws into the floor between the second and third rows.
Any other goodies?
All five rear seats collapse into the floor and there’s an option that lets the rear row do it at the touch of a button. It means you can transform it from seven-seater to van in 30 seconds. There’s also a clever in-car entertainment system as a £1750 option. This has two screens and three inputs so the second row of passengers can watch one thing on one screen, the third row can enjoy something different and other passengers can listen to the sound system. Perfect for keeping bickering kids at bay.
OK, apart from that what sort of job has Chrysler done inside?
Although bosses claim they’ve made big improvements to the interior it’s pretty much business as usual for an American car. The dash looks decent, if a touch old-fashioned, making the perceived quality fine, but no better. Touch the plastics and they’re horribly scratchy. And some of it – such as the feeble, snatchy way the glove box shuts - feels very flimsy. The driving position is also poor. Along with the front seat passenger, taller occupants won’t be able to sit far back enough to feel truly comfortable.
What’s it like on the road then?
For passengers it’s fine. The ride is supple but engineers have beefed up the roll bars and claim there’s less body roll, although it’s still very present if you're the driver. The only wind noise you get is from around the mirrors and road noise has been suppressed impressively. They haven’t been quite so effective at silencing the engine. The firm reckons 95 percent of UK sales will be the 2.8-litre turbodiesel and it’s had its performance upped. But the increase in weight cancels that out and the car labours noisily up gradients. Pack the earplugs.
How about if you’re behind the wheel?
Chances are you won’t be buying a large MPV and expecting it to handle like a sportscar, which is just as well because it doesn’t. In fact it feels like a big cumbersome beast and although the steering feels decently weighted it has such a poor relationship with the front wheels you find yourself having to make corrections mid bend in order to maintain your desired trajectory. The whole experience makes you feel like you’re hauling a lot of weight around...
There’s no doubting that the Grand Voyager is well equipped. Even without Swivel ’n Go as a £750 option and the in-car DVD, there are still plenty of family friendly features. Curtain airbags and ESP are standard as are Stow ’n Go seats. While you can argue that the driving experience isn’t vital for a motor such as this, interior quality is and the Grand Voyager still lags behind European rivals when it comes to cabin build. It’s an improvement on the outgoing car but you sense the firm could have done much more.