What is it?
The Chrysler Grand Voyager isn’t called Grand for mere marketing reasons – it really is enormous.
Want proof? Lord Sugar runs a fleet of them for The Apprentice, where they house both a camera crew and up to four buffoon candidates at a time, the latter all lying to each other about who runs the biggest call centre. It’s no longer the only Chrysler on sale here and it isn’t cheap, but it’s seven seats of pure unfiltered practicality.
There’s no choice in the drivetrain at all, so if you’re not happy with a 2.8-litre diesel and a six-speed auto, tough. They’re suited to each other at least, if not the car.
The engine has 265lb ft, which in most applications would be enough, but in a car this giant it’s not quite sufficient. It takes 12.8 seconds to get to 62mph, which says it all. So, to compensate, the gearbox has to change down lots, which optimises pace – but is bad for the ears. This is a clattering big diesel, and much more palatable at low revs. Otherwise, the driving position and visibility are both fine, and refinement is OK too, with only the expected amount of high-speed wind noise on the motorway and little more.
Dynamics are as roly-poly as you would expect – its cornering ability matters not, but the Voyager could do with controlling its springs a little more because the ride is generally slightly unsettled.
On the inside
Unfortunately, the Voyager conforms to stereotype, comprising plastics and design that smack of the car you rented to drive around Florida back in 2001. Reliability is, say numerous customer surveys, poor. But you’ll deal with that so that the rest of the family can lounge in what is an extremely well-thought-out seven-seater vehicle.
The Stow ’n’ Go seats fold down neatly with one lever, and the middle row swivels to face the back – aka The Apprentice position. The electric sliding door is useful as well and, obviously, the boot is huge – at 756 litres, more than twice that of a VW Golf.
It’s rare and it’s designed with restraint, so it has more prestige than the average Chrysler – though, of course, you pay the price for that. Running costs are poor, too. Getting just 178bhp from a 2.8-litre engine these days is scandalous – VW’s bosses must be laughing their sandals off – and because it’s pulling two tonnes of Voyager around, fuel economy is poor: improved slightly to 35.8mpg, but still not good enough. Parts and servicing costs are big. Essentially, running a Voyager is akin to running a big German car, but with fewer guarantees.