The Chrysler Grand Voyager offers ample room for seven in this comfortable and capable MPV

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So what elements do you need to voyage grandly, to carry you, loved ones and luggage across huge distances in safety and comfort? Large seats? Undoubtedly. Seven of them? Quite possibly. A practical, spacious cabin? Certainly. A refined, frugal engine, smooth drivetrain and cosseting ride? Tick, tick and tick.

This is what the Chrysler Grand Voyager aims to provide and has done so with varying degrees of success throughout its history, which can be traced back to 1984, when it was born a Plymouth.

Respectable glass area makes the front of the Grand Voyager easy to judge

Its previous iteration, for example, was as spacious as large MPVs get without buying a repurposed van, yet its safety rating was officially dreadful.

Nevertheless, this is a car whose customers appreciate practicality above all else. Buyers overlooked one of the worst Euro NCAP crash tests in history (it scored two stars overall and no points at all for pedestrian protection) when Chrysler introduced seats that folded flat into the floor, and sales went up more than 50 percent.

With this Grand Voyager, first introduced in 2008, Chrysler thinks all the practicality of the lineage is still there, but with extra safety, value and refinement. There’s no plain ‘Voyager’ any more – that was replaced by the Dodge Journey, leaving the seven-seat Grand at the top of the range. Or make that alone at the top of the range, the axing of Dodge in the UK took the Journey with it.

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So is the Grand Voyager as good as Chrysler wants us to think it is?


Chrysler Voyager front grille

The design of the Grand Voyager is about as traditional as it gets. Gone are the modest curves and swoops of the previous-generation model, replaced by some of the most stolid lines in the sector.

Chrysler says that the design is clean and tailored, and that the lines share some cues with the 300C. Certainly, there’s something in that. The blockiness and proportions of body to glass are similar. If nothing else, the straightforward shape should make placing a Grand Voyager on the road quite easy for a 5143mm-long, 1953mm-wide car.

I rather like the new Grand Voyager’s slabby, purposeful styling

Compared with the previous model, the roofline has been pulled out to create more interior room, and the sills have been extended to increase the appearance of solidity.

It isn’t particularly interesting, but it’s inoffensive enough. There’s one other traditional-MPV point of note, too, and it’s a welcome one: the rear side doors slide (many rivals’ do not), so they’re easier to open in tight spaces. Those with young families will know what a boon this is.

Underneath, the big Chrysler’s mechanicals are as traditional as its exterior. There are MacPherson struts suspending the front, with a compact and inexpensive torsion beam set-up at the rear.

And although this Grand Voyager is very much a new model, don’t think that it’s entirely new under the skin. The engines have been carried over from the previous generation with a few modifications, and some chassis and structural elements are the same, too, including the floorpan.


Chrylser Voyager interior

The Grand Voyager is about luxury. But here, in part, it fails. Some – most – of the dashboard’s plastics are well short of the class standard. In its favour, there are fewer plastics to get upset about in the back, where it has heated seats, climate control and near-silent electric sliding doors and tailgate. This is a superb executive taxi in the making.

The Grand Voyager’s floorpan has been carried over from the old model because the Stow ’n’ Go seating system that sits within it gives unrivalled practicality in this class.

Boot space isn’t great with all seats in place; at least the roofline is very high

Typically for a big MPV, there are three rows of seats. But, atypically, the centre row seats just two, in separate large chairs, and it’s the third row that seats three. The centre row’s chairs are larger and more comfortable than you would reasonably expect. The third row of seating is smaller and light on shoulder room for three, but is otherwise spacious enough.

The clever bit, though, is how the seats fold. The front pair (electrically operated) need to be pushed to their foremost position, but from there it’s a fairly straightforward job to fold the rearmost five seats flat into the cabin floor. The rear bench splits one-third/two-thirds. And then you have a van with 3296 litres of luggage volume.

What the Grand Voyager cannot do, however, is offer a cabin ambience to match that of its rivals, and fit and finish, although improved and entirely adequate, are still short of the class best. But there’s no arguing with the Chrysler’s interior room or the usefulness of its sliding doors.

Inside, there’s sign of improvement in Chrysler’s mainstream interiors. Although some of the plastics are still rather hard and the wood unconvincing, it does feel more cohesive than some of the firm’s other offerings – especially at night, with the new ambient lighting.


Chrysler Voyager

Only one engine is offered with the Grand Voyager. The 3.8-litre petrol V6, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, only ever accounted for 10 percent of Grand Voyager sales so it has been dropped. That leaves the popular 2.8-litre CRD diesel on its own, also driving through a six-speed automatic.

The VM-Motori-sourced diesel is changed slightly from its previous incarnation. It’s six percent lighter, has a longer cambelt life and has a couple of structural changes to the sump and crankshaft. Maximum power is 161bhp, developed at 3800rpm, with a high torque figure of 265lb ft available from as low as 1600rpm.

Unusually for this type of car, the Grand Voyager's ESP/traction control system can be switched off entirely

It’s a pity, though, that the excellent Mercedes 3.0 turbodiesel engine found in other Chryslers hasn’t been used here – according to Chrysler, it won’t fit – because although the 2.8 four-pot diesel has reasonable punch, it has nothing like the same refinement for the task. At least it marries well with the new six-speed auto ’box.

The VM engine is also a common-rail unit with piezo injectors, which is usually a byword for quietness, but not here. It rattles at idle, and when you start making demands of the 2.8-litre CRD unit, it becomes even gruffer. And make demands you must if you want to make decent progress.

At 2305kg, the Grand Voyager has barely 70bhp per tonne, which means you’re looking at 12.1sec for 0-60mph by our stopwatch. Officially, the 0-62mph time is 12.8sec. Top speed is 115mph, but you’re more likely to give up before it does.


Chrysler Voyager hard cornering

Thankfully, the Grand doesn’t offer a van-like driving experience. You sit high, with excellent visibility, in large comfortable chairs. The steering is light, but reasonably accurate, and overall the Grand is surprisingly wieldy for such a big thing.

There are many things that make the Grand Voyager a relaxing car to drive over long distances. There are its large and widely adjustable front seats, its decent driving position, its well-sited steering wheel with wheel-mounted controls, and its decent all-round visibility.

In wet conditions the Grand Voyager finds good traction and resisting aquaplaning

The icing on the cake would be a cosseting, adeptly damped ride and excellent sound absorption. Does it have them? Not quite. The Grand Voyager marries a ride that feels soft enough at low speeds with one that is never quite settled, either. The primary ride is soft, and all the better for it, although ridges and potholes do tend to send tremors through the bodyshell.

Raise the speed and the Grand Voyager is entirely stable, capable of straight-lining in a relaxed manner for hours at a time, and its steering, at 3.1 turns lock to lock, requires only the smallest and most intuitive of corrections.

Although it lacks the sharpness of a Ford Galaxy, the Grand Voyager actually handles very respectably. It steers accurately and goes around corners with quite a well-contained roll rate.

And so long as you’re in no hurry, the drive is okay. Be in no doubt that a Ford Galaxy is a far, far better steer, but the Voyager’s ride seems smooth enough to live with everyday and you could comfortably cover very long distances.


Chrysler Voyager

The Grand Voyager looks like it may make a pretty decent case for itself in this department at first glance. The identically powered (161bhp) 2.0 TDCi Ford Galaxy in Titanium trim comes in slightly cheaper than the entry-level Grand Voyager LX.

But the equipment levels of the base model are not what you’d consider to be generous. Foglights, mirrored sun visors, automatic headlights and wipers and an automatic driver’s mirror are all things you’d expect as standard in a car of its type and price, but you have to start heading into the Touring and range-topping Limited before this equipment starts to feature as standard.

Respectable residuals go some way to off-setting poor economy

The Limited does offer a vast quantity of equipment for its vast price, though. A full-leather interior, load-levelling suspension, heated and adjustable seats and chrome trim can all be found on this model. Even so, a Ford Galaxy offers much of the same, for less money.

In our hands, the Grand Voyager’s economy was reasonable, but no more. During a decent cruise, we returned 33.8mpg, with an average of 26.8mpg. It’s also fairly high up the road tax food chain, in VED band K, so it is not cheap to tax. CO2 emissions are officially rated at 222g/km. As for insurance, the base two models sit in group 32 and the Limited range-topper is group 34.

Residual values are respectable – in line with the Galaxy’s and better than those of the now-extinct (in the UK, at least) Renault Grand Espace.


3 star Chrysler Voyager

Here’s something we wouldn’t have said about the previous Chrysler Grand Voyager: take a serious look at it if you’re thinking about buying a large MPV. What you’ll find is a thoughtfully designed and mostly well-executed piece of large MPV design. If you need to transport lots of people frequently in comfort – whether that’s a large family or as a business – the new Grand Voyager has much to recommend it.

Its seating layout is good, the way they fold into the floor is nothing short of excellent and, although cabin fit and finish are still some way short of European standards, you are unlikely to be appalled. It even handles tidily.

The Grand Voyager is a thoughtfully designed piece of large MPV design

However, there are areas that still need serious improvement before the Grand Voyager can fulfill its potential as a great MPV. Chiefly, it needs to be equipped with a much quieter and more frugal engine.

But at least there’s a far better Euro NCAP rating this time around – it scored four stars when tested in 2011 as a Lancia Grand Voyager, the name it is known by in mainland Europe.

Overall, there’s a case for choosing a Grand Voyager. It’s well equipped and, although it’s not as good as a Ford Galaxy to drive, it is at least as good to be a passenger in, and that’s what’s overwhelmingly important in seven-seat MPVs.


Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

Chrysler Grand Voyager 2008-2015 First drives