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Voyager to safety

Safer: Third-generation Chrysler people-mover has a total of 10 airbags.

Stung by poor crash test results, Chrysler says its latest MPV is much improved

3 Apr 2008

CHRYSLER claims its new-generation, RT-series Grand Voyager launched in Australia last week is the safest people-mover it has ever sold in Australia.

The American company also believes that the latest version would achieve an improved crash-test result from the independent NCAP authority, after the previous two generations achieved no more than two stars out of five – once in 2006 with the RG and in 1999 with the GS.

Speaking in Melbourne last week, Chrysler Australia’s general manager for marketing and product Craig Bradshaw revealed that America’s NHTSA National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has awarded a US version of the RT Grand Voyager a maximum of five stars for front and side impacts, and a class-leading four stars for rollover safety.

Mr Bradshaw also said that he is confident of a strong outcome since the latest model now boasts more than 25 safety and security features compared to the outgoing RG version.

These include a host of active safety equipment such as ESP stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist technology, tyre pressure monitors, rear parking assist, and Chrysler’s EARS Enhanced Accident Response – which makes it easier for emergency personnel to see and reach occupants in the event of an accident by turning on the interior lighting and unlocking the doors after airbag deployment. It also shuts off the flow of fuel to the engine, according to Chrysler.

Mr Bradshaw added that the brakes are now improved, with larger discs at the front (rising from 281 to 302mm) and back (up from 290 to 305mmm).

11 center imageLeft: Chrysler Australia’s general manager for marketing and product, Craig Bradshaw.

On the passive side, the Grand Voyager features 10 airbags, including the critical “Knee Blocker” supplemental restraint for both the driver and front-seat passenger that the previous UK-spec model lacked in the ENCAP crash test conducted late in 2006, as well as a new multi-stage driver’s side airbag.

According to Chrysler, other airbag-related advances in the latest model include a ‘low-risk deployment’ front passenger airbag that requires a more substantial impact before it fires.

There are also other sensors incorporated that detect an impending rollover and so deploy the appropriate airbags for up to five seconds in order to give optimum protection in the subsequent impacts that invariably result in such scenarios. The seatbelt pretensioners are also activated for an extended time during this event.

Additionally, Chrysler points out that the side airbags’ total volume is more than two times more than that found in other comparable vehicles.

The availability of HID High Intensity Discharge headlights is another new safety advance for the Grand Voyager, as is an energy-absorbent steering column and side mirror indicator repeaters.

A little over a year ago, the European NCAP regime indirectly referred to Chrysler as "lazy about safety" when it tested the previous-generation, RG Voyager and awarded it a "poor" safety score of two stars (with the last star struck through) seven years after the MPV was first handed down an equally poor two-star result.

At the time, Euro NCAP chairman, Claes Tingvall, slammed the Voyager result and criticised Chrysler in the UK for not offering the same level of safety and security that the model sold in mainland Europe did.

"I find it shocking that... Chrysler continues to sell this version in the UK while a better-equipped and better-performing version is available in left-hand drive across the rest of Europe...” Mr Tingvall said.

Chrysler Australia spokesman Jerry Stamoulis said that the RG Voyager in question was a UK diesel model not offered in Australia, and so this outcome was not directly comparable to the model sold here.

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