Friday, 9 August 2013 8:05 AM
There is only one luxury people mover and that is the Chrysler Grand Voyager.
It is fortunate that I have a grand voyage of my own planned to really put it through its paces. And I am pleased to report that it scored very highly with the Saunders family.
I want to whisk my family away for a long weekend to Tichborne’s Farm Cottages in Wiltshire and all our belongings would not have fitted into a standard car. It is only when you have at least two children that you realise many cars just aren’t big enough anymore. They won’t fit all the paraphernalia. But this cavernous Yank easily swallows everything including our cumbersome tandem pushchair, together with one crib, four days of food for the self-catering break, various suitcases for the girls and a couple of shirts for me…
Life is so very easy with the Chrysler. Everything is electrically operated including the power folding wing mirrors and front seats. The rear doors and boot can be opened or closed by pressing the appropriate button on the keyfob, or by the front occupants who can push the roof mounted switches as you can see in the videos at testdrives.biz.
The rear passengers aren’t forgotten either because there is a button close to the inside of each door for them to use if desired. The doors also automatically slide open when the external handle is pulled. These rear doors are especially user-friendly when children’s car seats need fitting because there is so much space. Traditional car doors that open outwards often pose a problem when they cannot be fully opened, for instance where there’s another car parked next to you in a car park.
The third row of seats, which accommodate three passengers is easily lifted at the click of a button in the boot. This rises or falls with ease and when stowed, the boot is simply enormous.
My wife likes the fact that there is a space between the two seats in the second row, giving passengers plenty of room and allowing for long items to be easily stored.
Simple to pull up blinds are also fitted inside all the blacked out rear windows for extra protection from the sun. As a treat my eldest daughter is allowed to watch a DVD and headphones are stored in a useful overhead compartment.
This large vehicle is famed for its regular appearance in BBC1’s The Apprentice, where it ferries hapless candidates to Lord Sugar’s various challenges. It’s an ideal vehicle for such activities because there is plenty of room inside, making it perhaps more user-friendly than the slightly cheaper but more traditional black cab taxi.
With its brilliant black finish, chrome grille, door mirrors and handles the Grand Voyager cuts a dashing figure commanding many a second glance from admiring motorists.
I like the captain’s style seats, which incorporate fold down armrests in the front and in the second row. The driving position is excellent and it’s a responsive vehicle considering its size although the brakes are not as responsive as I might wish on some occasions.
The 2.8-litre diesel engine is a little rough around the edges and can be heard from inside the cabin but for me this just adds to the sense that it is a van and that’s quite appealing. It’s perhaps what the A-team might have moved up to if they ever became more sophisticated. The six speed auto box is guilty of being a little indecisive at times usually when travelling at low speed up a hill and second gear might do the job just as well as third at around 25 to 30mph. Despite its size it has the power to safely overtake vehicles at speed along Wiltshire’s B-roads.
Overall the Chrysler Grand Voyager is unequalled in terms of luxury and capability. We travel around 300 miles on under half a tank. A hard vehicle for this family to return indeed.
Chrysler Grand Voyager 2.8 CRD Limited
Price with options: £36,930
Top speed: 115mph
Road tax: £600 a year
By Tim Saunders