- We like...Space, clever folding seats
- We don't...High CO2 emissions
Super-sized US-style people-bus takes seven and their luggage with easeThe Apprentice. The TV prog that made doing business look cool and sexy, as wannabes jostled to win a £100,000 job with king grouch, Alan Sugar. And in the series a fleet of black Chrysler Voyagers shuttled candidates from task to task.
Now Chrysler’s come along with an all new Voyager, will it have to re-audition to star in the next Apprentice? The old one pops up every week in the series showing now, and Chrysler wouldn’t yet say more about the new one's chances. But we can promise that it has what it takes.
Just as burgers come supersized, the new Voyager comes only as a ‘Grand’ – Chrysler no longer sells the regular ‘Voyager’. And the latest one is a monster, big enough to seat seven grown-ups and swallow their luggage. Where the old one was rounded and swoopy of line, the latest is squared-off and slabby. The new chip-slicer grille gives it a bare-toothed leer.
The seat layout is unusual ‘cos it’s 2-2-3, where most rivals offer 2-3-2. The advantage is that you reach the rearmost row without flipping the middle seats. There’s ample head- and leg-room for all.
The Grand Voyager’s ace is its Stow ‘n’ Go system, which tips the middle and back rows of seats flat into the floor, separately or together, to give a huge choice of seat vs. luggage combos. When the seats are in use, the bins in the floor add luggage space – equivalent to the boot of a small hatchback. The other surprises are its rear doors and tailgate, where motors glide them open at a double-press on the keyfob. And that happens on all models, including the £25,995 LX. This entry model looks the pick of ‘em all, not least because its cloth seats have a clever stain-resist treatment that shrugs off ucky stuff.
The previous Voyager scored only two Euro NCAP stars for occupant protection in a crash, a disappointing result. Chrysler hope for much better when this one tests.
So it’s big, useful, generously equipped and well priced. But what’s it like to drive? You sit high, and there’s one heck of a big screen to peer out from. The gears are sorted for you by a six-speed auto (there’s no manual-gears option) and the steering, while not pin-point, is sharp enough to place this bus where you wish it. The ride is wriggly over the bumps with just the driver aboard but settles with a proper load.
There’s a 2.8 turbodiesel to haul it along. It’s brisk enough and steps away from rest smartly, but sounds gruff as it gathers speed and we found the gearbox could be caught momentarily off-pace at certain throttle openings. The only other choice is a 3.8 V6 petrol, but this isn’t any quicker, while guzzling a gallon of fuel for every 15 miles you drive in town. Whichever you choose, it’ll pump out enough CO2 to whallop you in the tax bracket if you run it as a company car. And it will soon cost you £25 a day should you venture into central London.
Will the next gang of Apprentice wannabes like it? We think they will. The range-topping Limited offers swivel seating and a clip-in table that turns the cabin into a conference suite – perfect for big dogs of business. Whether the programme makers will foot its congestion charge bills is another matter.
- Engines2.8 CRD, 3.8 V6 petrol
- 0-60 mph12.8sec-12.6sec
- Insurance groups11E-13E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: