It is 21 years since Chrysler invented a new motoring segment with the Voyager. When Chrysler launched the Voyager in 1983 it was an instant hit in the US and since then more than 10 million have been sold in more than 100 countries.
However, the Chrysler Voyager has only been available in South Africa since 1999 and it has proved to be as popular here as elsewhere in the world.
"The Chrysler Voyager remains the best selling MPV in South Africa. It's always exceeded customer expectations with space, performance, safety and resale value," says Guy Franken, Chrysler and Jeep marketing manager at DaimlerChrysler South Africa.
Now the face-lifted Voyager, boasting a new face and an all-new diesel model, the 2.8CRD, is on sale in SA. There are also two petrol models in the range, a 2.4-litre and 3.3-litre V6.
Chrysler has also brought the Voyager in line with its new design trend as inspired by the Crossfire and new 300C models.
The Voyager's "new face of Chrysler" look includes a new nose design incorporating a restyled grille and new quad lights.
There are also new bodyside mouldings as well as new wheel designs and safety and quality improvements.
But as in 1983 the Voyager is still about space and functionality.
The 2004 Voyager, which is available with two wheelbase lengths, offers a comfortable interior and Chrysler also reduced the level of NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) on the face-lifted model.
Chrysler especially took care to reduce the engine noise of the 2.8 CRD, and I can tell you they did a good job on it.
Chrysler upped safety levels on the Voyager with the introduction of three-row A to D pillar side curtain air bags which provide full-length coverage for all three rows of seats. The curtain airbags are complimented by multi-stage front airbags.
All Voyager models come with a long list of standard comfort features such as climate control and certain models also feature a plush leather interior.
Depending on the model you can also spec your Voyager with electric sliding rear doors, which you can operate via the car key.
There is also a new sound system with a CD player. A rear park assist system is also standard on the Limited model and optional on the LX, and it is really useful if you keep in mind that this is quite a big set of wheels.
Soon Voyager buyers will also be able to opt for an interior overhead rail module with up to six movable and removable storage bins which double-up as DVD-players and screens.
The Voyager has seven individual seats with armrests which can be arranged in a multitude of ways. With the exception, of course, of the driver's seat all the seats can be folded down or removed.
However, the biggest news with 2004 Voyager is the introduction of the 2.8 CRD model, and it really impressed us as the best in the range.
The combination of this diesel engine with an automatic transmission is also a first for Voyager and Chrysler claims it results in class-leading power, torque and fuel economy figures.
This 2.8 CRD engine has been taken from the Jeep Cherokee and has a power output of 110 kW at 3 800 r/min while torque is 360 Nm at a low 1 800 r/min.
After experiencing the 2.8 CRD and 3.3 V6 models on the launch in Mpumalanga with the driving route through Robber's and Long Tom passes we were more impressed with the diesel Voyager than its V6 sibling.
Whereas the 2.8 CRD made mincemeat of higher speeds, the V6 struggled to find the right gear, no matter the speed, while gulping through litres of expensive petrol.
The diesel model with its high torque output felt brisker and it also did a better job than the V6 on overtaking.
You have to force the V6 to work hard when going uphill while the diesel offers a much more relaxing progress.
Overall the Voyager, in both petrol and diesel guise, offers a quite and composed ride. Tight bends also don't upset it and the Voyager held its composure through the number of tight corners on the passes we drove through.
It is easy to understand why Chrysler dominates the MPV segment it created.
The latest reincarnation of the Voyager has all the abilities to help this model to stay on top in its segment for a third decade.
In 2004 guise the Voyager offers as a people carrier value for money, good quality and a fine ride.
The new 2.8 CRD Voyager is a welcome addition to the range and we can recommend it as the best buy in the range.
We say congratulations to the Chrysler Voyager which is 21-years young!
Range & pricing
For 2004, Chrysler offers two versions of its standard-wheelbase Voyager minivan, the SE and LX. Three versions of the extended-wheelbase Grand Voyager minivan are available, the SE, LX and Limited.
Voyager 2.4 SE ? R269 900
Grand Voyager 2.8 CRD SE (auto) ? R339 900
Grand Voyager 2.8 CRD LX (auto) ? R393 900
Grand Voyager 3.3 SE (auto) ? R309 900
Grand Voyager 3.3 LX (auto) ? R362 900
Grand Voyager 3.3 Limited (auto) ? R397 900