1 Feb 1997
By CHRIS HARRIS
Daimler Benz purchased Chrysler in 1998, resulting in a name change to DaimlerChrysler.
Chrysler is credited with inventing the big people-mover market in the US with its Voyager.
Along with the unseen-locally Renault Espace, the Voyager was passenger – not commercial – vehicle based, so its creators had a free hand in optimising the car for people carrying consumption.
The Voyager’s dual side-sliding doors, a walk-through cabin and three rows of seating for up to eight occupants became segment hallmarks.
Australia had to wait until the third iteration – the GS – from late ’95.
Sourced from DaimlerChrysler’s Austrian production facility, two versions were introduced here in early ’97 – the short wheelbase (2878mm) Voyager SE and long wheelbase (3030mm) Grand Voyager.
The latter came in SE, LE and (from October ’98 to early 2000) luxury LE LTD guises. All were powered by a 116kW/275Nm 3.3-litre OHV V6 mated only to a four-speed column shift automatic gearbox.
Along with the price, equipment levels were high: dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes, air-conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry, power steering, electric windows, heated windscreen and power mirrors were SE features.
The LE and LE LTD included alloy wheels, fog lights, leather upholstery, power front seats, roof racks and a trip computer.
The well-specified Grand Voyager LX became the GS model’s flagship from September 2000.
Although prices were always high, the Voyager did well against the now ageing Toyota Tarago and smaller Honda Odyssey and Mitsubishi Nimbus, while slight trim changes kept the model fresh.
But the arrival of the cut-price 1999 Kia Carnival and new Tarago in late 2000 hurt sales, especially as the then falling Australian dollar put prices beyond many people’s reach.
The almost all-new RG Voyager replaced it in May 2001.