What's New for 2002
Chrysler brings out the Voyager eC, a value leader that lists for just $17,000. Power-adjustable pedals debut as well.
After Plymouth went the way of the stegosaurus, Chrysler adopted its Caravan clone, the Voyager. As with the Caravan, the Voyager rides on a 113.3-inch wheelbase, as opposed to the 6-inch-longer wheelbase of the Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country series.
Designed for families that can't afford a minivan with a price tag approaching $30K, the Voyager starts at around $17,000 and comes in three trim levels: eC, base and more luxurious LX.
A 150-horsepower 2.4-liter inline four hooked up to a primitive three-speed automatic propels the base model (a four-speed automatic is optional). The LX is fitted with a 180-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 coupled to a smooth-shifting four-speed automatic.
Making the base model a foolish choice (and causing us to question Chrysler's logic) is the new and cheaper eC model that comes only in Bright Silver paint with a taupe interior. Equipped with the 2.4-liter I4 and a four-speed automatic gearbox, the eC lists for $3,000 less than the base Voyager, yet has a better automatic tranny and the same equipment level. The downside of the eC is that you can't get a V6 engine or a different color, and the options list is very short.
Air conditioning and a stereo with cassette player are standard on the base Voyager and eC. LX models add antilock brakes; power windows, locks and mirrors; and cruise control. Certain features such as leather seating, DVD player and traction control are not available on the Voyager. If you're looking for a mega-loaded minivan, Chrysler has a Town & Country with your name on it.
And if you expect to use the Voyager's seven-passenger capability and/or generous luggage capacity, we'd advise you to get the V6, either as an option on the base van or by opting for the LX model. In addition to more muscle, another benefit of the V6 is its quiet performance, in contrast to the four, which can get buzzy when pushed.
One of the things we've raved about while piloting any of the new Chrysler/Dodge minivans is their agile handling and supple ride characteristics. We suspect that these vans will surprise a lot of folks who expect the driving experience to be an exercise in lethargic vehicle dynamics.
Crash-test scores are mostly good, but not outstanding as on some competitors, such as the Honda Odyssey. Another area where the Chrysler falls a bit short is in reliability history, though the company has improved in this respect in recent years.
For the money, these are sweet driving and comfortable shuttles that deserve a look if a short-money purchase is the main objective.