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By Jim Flammang
April 15, 2002
Vehicle Overview Like its posh Town & Country companion, the lower-priced Chrysler Voyager gets an optional DVD rear-seat entertainment system and a pressure-based tire monitor for 2002. Adjustable pedals with a 2.75-inch range are also optional.
Until 2001, the Voyager wore a Plymouth badge. When that old-time make was discontinued, Chrysler adopted the name for its less-costly minivan.
The Voyager is available in base, eC and upscale LX trim levels. It comes only in short-body form with front-wheel drive and a four-cylinder or V-6 engine; an all-wheel-drive system and an extended-wheelbase version are not available. Fewer amenities are available in the Voyager than in the Town & Country. Voyagers are closely related not only to the longer, higher-priced Town & Country but also to the popular Dodge Caravan. All DaimlerChrysler minivans were redesigned and enlarged for the 2001 model year.
In October 2001, Chrysler added a new eC model with the four-cylinder engine, five-passenger seating and a short options list. This Voyager and the similar Dodge Caravan eC are positioned as the most affordable minivans in the market, according to DaimlerChrysler.
Exterior The Voyager rides a 113.3-inch wheelbase, measures 189.1 inches long overall and stands 68.9 inches tall.
Dual-sliding side doors are standard. A power passenger-side sliding door is available as an option only on the LX. This power door has a manual override so it can be opened and closed by hand while the power phase is in operation. It also features obstacle detection when opening or closing.
Interior Unlike the Honda Odyssey and Mazda MPV, the Voyager lacks a third-row seat that folds into the floor; instead, it has an optional 50/50-split third-row bench. Quad Command seating is an option that features second-row buckets instead of a bench seat.
The LX minivan is equipped with such extras as power windows, tilt steering, cruise control and an electric rear defroster; the LX option features an in-dash four-CD changer. Options for other models include dual-zone temperature control, an odor/particulate air filter and a CD player.
Under the Hood Two distinct powertrains are available. The base and eC models come with a 150-horsepower, 2.4-liter, dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder engine that mates to a three-speed-automatic transmission. The LX gets a 180-hp, 3.3-liter V-6 that teams with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Safety Front airbags have dual-stage inflation, and side-impact airbags are optional. Seat belt pretensioners for the front seats and child-safety seat tethers for the second and third rows are standard. Antilock brakes are standard in the LX and optional in the base model.
Driving Impressions Chrysler has led the minivan market since 1984 not only in sales, but also in the appealing, family-oriented functionality of its products. The 2001 redesign didnt produce as much of a forward leap as the 1996 restyling, and competition is stiffer these days. Even so, Chrysler and Dodge still produce the minivans to beat.
Lively acceleration from a standstill with the 3.3-liter V-6 engine is not quite matched by the Voyagers passing and merging prowess, but performance is more than adequate. Typical buyers will probably decide that the four-cylinder model lacks sufficient strength.
All Chrysler minivans handle with a relatively light touch, but not in a disconcerting manner. Instead, they feel secure on the highway and are easy to drive, with no unpleasant surprises to mar the experience. The Voyager maneuvers adeptly in urban driving and is confident and capable in difficult spots or bad-weather situations.
The Voyager is quiet, but wind and road noise can be heard at times. Quality problems of the past appear to have been resolved, and the current minivans seem well constructed and refined. One annoyance is the parking-brake release lever, which is a long reach for the driver. Sun-visor extenders are a helpful bonus, and the oddly shaped column gearshift lever operates easily.
Seats are more comfortable and more agreeably cushioned than those in the Ford Windstar. The driver faces a down-to-business dashboard in an appealing interior. The standard analog instruments in the LX are fairly easy to read during the day, but the light-green numerals are more difficult to see at night.