Whether you need to move people or goods, Chrysler's spacious Grand Voyager MPV delivers more than competently
Voyage of comfort PHOTO: DAVID TING

A seven-seater multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) is ideal for a large family. With its interior flexibility, MPVs can accommodate different passenger-and-cargo configurations at the drop of a hat.

Americans prefer to call these vehicles minivans, although they are not exactly van-like and their typical size is not mini at all.

The most versatile aspect of Chrysler's signature minivan, the Grand Voyager, would be its Stow 'n' Go system. The second- and third-row seats are easily stowed inside the floor, resulting in a completely flat and fully carpeted load space with a capacity of 3,912 litres - as big as a large panel van's.

With all the seats in place, luggage capacity is still generous at 934 litres and it can be extended to an Ikea-conquering 2,394 litres by simply folding down the third row.

Stowing or deploying the second-row seats requires an easy tilt-and-lift, while the third-row seats are electrically operated.

Spacious under-floor bins are available when the second row of seats is in place. Avid anglers will also like the 'fishing position' created by reverse- flipping the rear seats to face out to the open tailgate - this makeshift 'outdoor' leather bench is another Stow 'n' Go innovation.

Not so innovative is the car's exterior facelift, which offers minor cosmetic tweaks to the grille, front bumper and Chrysler badges.

Of greater significance is the provision of real wood trim for the dashboard and doors, nappa leather for the seats, some more cowhide for the steering wheel and sapphire-blue lighting for the interior. These touches help mask the cabin's plasticky construction, most of it hard.

Under the bonnet is a turbo-diesel engine, the first time it is available in Singapore's big-MPV segment. The 2.8-litre CRD four-cylinder has a power output of just 163bhp, but its torque figure is a respectable 360Nm. A six-speed automatic slushbox partners the engine.

The Grand Voyager is heavy, weighing all of 2.2 tonnes. Acceleration is therefore leisurely, with the yardstick sprint to 100kmh taking nearly 13 seconds.

Then again, a massive minivan is not meant for rushing around in and the torque characteristics of the diesel engine suit the Voyager well.

With its decent low-end energy, the Chrysler feels slightly livelier than what its quoted performance figures suggest. There is, however, noticeable diesel clatter, but it is reasonably subdued when on the move. It becomes intrusive only when the car is idling at a standstill.

Cruising comfortably on a road voyage is what the Voyager does best. So it does not take kindly to enthusiastic driving - there will be a fair amount of body roll and untidy scrubbing of the tyres, which remind the driver to reduce his cornering speed accordingly.

One advantage of the turbodiesel is its fuel economy. Though Chrysler's claimed average consumption of 7.9 litres for every 100km is probably unachievable in daily commuting, the real-world 13 litres for every 100km that I achieved is still around 30 per cent better than what an equivalent- capacity petrol engine can return in a vehicle of similar size.

Primary rivals to the Grand Voyager include the Toyota Alphard, Nissan Elgrand and Volkswagen Sharan.

As a strong workhorse for an extended family (or even a small company), the revised Chrysler minivan merits serious consideration. It may not be the last word in refinement, performance or excitement, but it does exactly what it was designed to do - carry up to seven people in comfort, transport plenty of cargo, or move anything in between.

No other MPV offers the same level of versatility, roominess and load-carrying capability as the Chrysler Grand Voyager.

CAR INFORMATION

Chrysler Grand Voyager Diesel 2.8 TDi 2013 7-Seater (A)

Price

:$223,000

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder 16-valves Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

2,776 cc

Horsepower

:

161 bhp / 3,800 rpm

Torque

:

360 Nm / 3,000 rpm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A)

Acceleration

:

12.8 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

185 km/h

 
Chrysler Grand Voyager Diesel 2.8 TDi 7-Seater (A)

Price

:$220,000

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder 16-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

2,776 cc

Horsepower

:

175 bhp / 3,600 rpm

Torque

:

360 Nm / 3,400 rpm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A)

Acceleration

:

12.8 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

185 km/h