Fleet News

Chrysler Voyager TD


##chryvoy.jpg --Right##THE argument for owning an MPV has been a much-vaunted one: with enough seating space for seven adults under one roof, a cavernous interior capable of swallowing van-size loads, and dimensions that don't come at the expense of extra roadspace it's easy to see where the argument becomes a credible one.

But there's an important issue here, which, until now, Chrysler has been unable to address: running costs. With a full accoutrement of passengers and paraphernalia on board the fuel economy and performance capabilities of the average petrol-engined MPV take a rapid turn for the worse and before long the car that promised so much becomes a heavy drain on your pocket. The answer, undoubtedly, is turbodiesel technology. It's not a new phenomenon by any means but it is one that has been slow to take hold in this sector compared to the level of manufacturer support in the lower, medium and upper medium sectors. But times are changing and with it comes the launch of the new Chrysler Voyager 2.5 turbodiesel.

Richard Mackay, managing director of Chrysler Jeep Imports UK, said: Some cars have transformed motoring through the years - Ford's Model T, the Mini - and we believe Chrysler has with the Voyager. Not only was it the world's first MPV when it was introduced in the US in 1983, but this month marks the seven millionth Voyager produced worldwide with more than 9,000 sold in the UK since its launch 18 months ago - placing it at number two in the UK MPV sales behind the Ford Galaxy.'

Mackay added: 'We had one arm tied behind our back without a TD option, and it's significant that for those manufacturers with a diesel MPV available this model accounts for 50% of total sales.'

Available in both standard and long wheelbase versions - mirroring its petrol-engined brother - the Voyager TD uses a tweaked version of the same Italian-built VM 2.5-litre oil-burner already under the bonnet of the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee. In line with the rest of the range, prices are equally low starting at just £19,620 on-the-road for the entry-level, five-seater Voyager 2.5 TD SE rising to £22,420 for the top-spec LE. Not only does the LE undercut the Ford Galaxy 1.9 TDi Ghia X (£22,520) and the Volkswagen Sharan 1.9 TDi 110 (£22,990), but against the archetypal people-carrier, the Renault Espace, compared here in top £25,270 RXE 2.2 dT guise, the difference is close to £3,000. Step up to the gargantuan Grand Voyager and there's still a big difference. At £24,320 the LE undercuts its most direct, and probably only true, rival - the £26,370 Grand Espace RXE 2.2dT - by a little over £2,000.

If price is your main consideration - and for most people it is - the Voyager is a clear price leader. But does it drive as hard as it bargains?

There's no denying you get a massive amount of car for the money. At 4.73 metres long, it's just five centimetres shorter than the Grand Espace - and that's just the standard car. The Grand Voyager breaks the five-metre barrier by some margin.

And yet despite its sheer size, the Voyager never feels unwieldy or cumbersome to drive. The reason is an uncanny car-like ride and handling set-up: it's not the product of one particular feature, more the marriage of suspension, steering and body rigidity. The Voyager turns in eagerly, rolls little and is blessed with power-assisted steering that retains feel and weight whatever the speed. Driver involvement is the key to its success allowing you to remove its MPV shackles and throw the Voyager into corners with confidence.

Enter a tight corner with excessive speed and plough-on understeer still occurs, but this is more to do with sheer weight of metal than any dynamic disability it may have. The powerful and responsive 2.5-litre turbodiesel developing 114bhp at 4,000rpm and a useful 193lb-ft of torque at an accessibly low 1,800rpm allows you to explore the Voyager's handling capabilities to the full. Unlike most mass-market diesels which run out of revs by 3-3,500rpm, the Voyager generates power right through to 4,500rpm resulting in a more relaxed drive.

It's quiet too. Yes, the diesel never totally loses its voice, but neither does it become annoyingly intrusive and its extra low-down punch blesses the Voyager with an effortless overtaking ability.

Inside, the exterior dimensions liberate a vast amount of interior space and the large, and deep, glass area gives a light and airy feel to the cabin, plus unparalleled visibility. If you genuinely need a seven-seater it makes little sense to buy one that can't carry seven people's luggage and the Voyager is the only MPV we know of that can do this without removing seats, or people. At 450 litres the loadspace is on a par with most upper mediums; the Grand Voyager is bigger still at 670 litres.

Cap Future Residual Value predict an equally impressive £8600/44% after three years/ 60,000 miles, and there's also a standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty. The official combined economy figure of 33.6mpg may fall a little short of expectations, but it betters the 3.3-litre petrol by 10mpg. In fact, this is one car I found very hard to fault. If you regularly tackle the school run or double up as your children's taxi, it not only makes sense to choose one with enough space for you, them and the luggage, but one that won't bust the budget either - and in this sense the Chrysler Voyager turbodiesel is unbeatable.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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