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2011 Chrysler Voyager Review - Revival of America's Iconic SUV

When the original Chrysler Voyager was launched in the mid-80s, it created the Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) as we know it today, a vehicle with seven or eight seats that drives like a car. It was such a hit that it sent all car manufacturers, including the Japanese and Europeans, back to the drawing boards to develop their own MPV models.
Twenty years on, with almost every carmaker having its own interpretation of the Voyager, Chrysler has had to continually upgrade its MPVs to maintain a lead in the segment that it created. The present Grand Voyager is the second-generation model and was launched in the late 90s. It had an exterior facelift two years ago, and this year it gets the revolutionary 'Stow n Go ' seats.
Flexibility has always been key to the appeal of the MPV, but removing the seats and finding a place to store it is an issue, especially in the Asian markets where people don't often have garages. Before 'Stow n Go', the Grand Voyager had small castors under their seats so that they could be wheeled around, but they were still incredibly heavy to lift out of the vehicle. The solution is for seats that don't have to be lifted out, but completely disappear into the floor.
In actuality, the disappearing third row seat is not a new idea the original '96 Honda Odyssey had a third row bench that folded and flipped into a well in the floor, and the Voyager adopts this idea. But it is the folding of the second row seats that is especially clever. After five simple steps, and the tugging of several tabs and straps, the whole seat literally disappears into the floor without a trace. This is all the more impressive as the seat adjustment functions are not compromised when upright, it can both slide and recline.
The trick of course, is to have a seat which folds into as compact a bundle as possible, and this is achieved by having both the swab and backrest of equal length. This results in a rather low backrest for an otherwise comfortable seat. This means that for most adults, the headrest has to be raised to prevent it from cutting into the middle of their backs.
The mechanicals of the Grand Voyager remain largely unchanged with a torquey 3.3-litre V6 making it feel well-powered and relaxed. Cruising is extremely effortless in the Chrysler, and there is an impressive absence of road- or engine-noise. It is also extremely well-equipped with a roof-mounted DVD player and plenty of storage areas.
There is also an abundance of automation on the Grand Voyager. Both the sliding rear doors are power-operated, as is the tailgate, and so are the hinged rear windows.
Everything can be controlled from the driver's seat, which is very convenient. The doors can also be opened and closed remotely with the key fob, useful on rainy days or when one's hands are full. The integration of a reversing monitor screen into the rear view mirror is also very thoughtful - it's a surprise no one else has thought about doing this. Quite clearly, the people at Chrysler are not resting on their laurels, but have continually added more and more convenient features to the MPV.
The only quirk in this otherwise impressive MPV is that the whole steering columns, along with the stalks, have been taken from a left-hand drive vehicle. This means the column gearshift is on the driver's right, when in most instances it is operated by the left hand. Apart from this, the Grand Voyager continues to impress, and maintains its title as the ultimate MPV, if price and size were no object.
Kenji Alexis has been writing car reviews for close to 10 years. Come visit his latest website over at http://the-carclub.tk to check out the in depth Honda cars reviews and all the latest automotive news.

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