European minivans - Chrysler Voyager and others

See the Lancia / Chrysler Voyager for 2011 and newer minivans in Europe

Americans may be curious to know what the minivan wars are like outside the US. Are Europeans confronted with Chrysler's Voyager proliferation of 3.0, 3.3, 2.4, and 3.8 liter engines with two wheelbases and seeming dozens of options packages? Do the Europeans make anything?

The Voyager had two engine options - the 2.0 Neon SOHC and the 3.3 V-6. With the 2.0, it was capable of 0 to 60 in 12.4 seconds, 30 to 70 in 12.6. The 3.3 had 155 hp and managed to get to 60 in just .6 seconds less time (11.8). Prices for the 1705-kg minivan ranged from £18,250 to £24,580. There were also diesel options.

The primary competition in France, at least, was the Renault Espace, which had been around for about the same number of years and was actually developed by Mitra (see story in our history page). It had three engines, a 2.0, 2.2 Diesel, and a 3.0, which moved it from 0-60 in between 11 and 15 seconds (except the Diesel) and got between 20.6 and 26.4 mpg (English mpg).

Ford's Galaxy minivan was also sold by Volkswagen with a Golf engine. For between £17,640 and £28,920, you got a 2.0 or 2.3 I-4, a 2.8 V-6, or a 1.9 Diesel. It got between 20.5 and 28 mpg, and did 0-60 in 10 to 13.2 seconds (gas engines). The horsepower ratings ranged from 115 to 174. There was an Aspen model!

The Opel Zafira, a subsized minivan, had been a sales success, along with a variety of other sub-minis. Honda, Toyota, and other companies made minivans that were closer to the PT Cruiser than the Caravan, but do not sell them in the United States - just as nobody (maybe except Volkswagen) sold a stick-shift diesel minivan in the US.

In 2003, Richard Moss wrote:

The standard Voyager was available with the 3.3L V6 - this was not just reserved for the Grand. Standards came in SE or LX trim whilst the Grand could be LX, Limited or XS. The 2.0L option was dropped some time ago.

New competition comes from the SEAT Alhambra version of the Ford Galaxy/VW Sharan. The SEAT and VW had VW group engines (1.9 and 2.8 V6), while the 2.0L and 2.3L engines in the Galaxy were Ford motors. The Espace had a wider range of engines than quoted - the 2.0 L petrol engine was joined by a 3.5l V6 and three diesels - 1.9, 2.2 and 3.0V6 TDis.

There was also the quartet of Citroen C8, Peugeot 806, and the Fiat Ulysse which were all the same vehicle but with varied engine options (Peugeot/Citroen use their engines, FIAT/Lancia use theirs) and all had their own trim/badging/lighting options. These were second generation minvans for these manufacturers.

As you say, there was the mid sized Opel/Vauxhall Zafira as well. Opel/Vauxhall had a full sized MPV (the Sintra) which was based upon the GM Venture and built in the US - but it bombed and was withdrawn after just a couple of years.

There were some other mid sized MPVs, too. The Renault Scenic, the Citroen Picasso, the Peugeot 307 SW plus the recently launched Ford Focus C-Max and VW Touran. All of these mid sized MPVs were a little above the Cruiser in the space race and some (like the Zafira) could have a 7 seat option.

For the cheap and cheerful end of the market there were the commercial van derived models - Citroen had the Berlingo Multispace (with its Peugeot Partner clone), Fiat had the Doblo and Renault do the Kangoo (which could be had with 4WD - as can the Scenic). The Citroen featured some nice aircraft style overhead storage lockers, made possible by the higher roof than on the purpose built MPVs.

We also had the usual offerings from Kia, Honda, Toyota etc. so I think we actually had a wider range of vehicles from which to choose than the US. This spread the sales more thinly and so we didn't really have huge sales for anyone (although the Galaxy, Espace and Voyager took the lion's share of the market).

Richard Beck wrote that Motoring Life claimed a new Chrysler Voyager SE 2.5 l turbo diesel got 65 mpg. One in every three Voyagers sold in Ireland was a Grand version, which the magazine called “the luxury limousine of the MPV sector,” at over £45,000. All Voyagers offered the choice of gasoline or diesel engines, the Voyager getting the 2.4 liter with either five-speed manual or four-speed automatic, and the Grand Voyager with the 3.3 V6 and an automatic - both had the 2.5 liter turbodiesel as an option with a five speed manual. Voyagers were available in SE or LX trim, while Grand Voyager only got LX. The SE had cloth seats, the LX leather. All came with four wheel antilock brakes, power (folding) mirrors and windows, air conditioning, dual airbags, and side airbags. The Grand had power front seats, trip computer, and three zone temperature control.

Of interest: “A husband and wife team drove a Voyager SE fitted with the 2.5 litre diesel engine 1077 miles (1724 Km) on a single tank of fuel. This averaged out at a highly commendable 65 miles per gallon at an average speed of 48 mph. The car was a standard model and the course was over normal roads in normal traffic conditions and the weather was what you could normally expect to find over that time and distance. In order to prove that the car was not specially prepared for economy run type conditions, it was immediately run on the Nardo test track in southern Italy over a twenty four hour period where it set 22 new records for speed and endurance.”

2005 engines update

Chrysler Voyager UK Engines
Engine - hp / Miles per Gallon 0-62 mph/
Wheelbase torque UK US 0-100 kph
2.4* 145/161 21.6-35.8 18-30 12.4
3.3 172/205 15.5-26.9 13-22 12.6
2.5* 141/251 28.5-44.1 24-37 11.9
2.8 SWB 150/265 25.0-32.8 21-27 12.0
2.8 LWB 150/265 24.6-32.3 20-27 12.0
* Manual transmission, short wheelbase (SWB)

Chrysler added a 2.8 common-rail turbo diesel engine to its European Voyager line, still made in Austria; a 2.5 liter diesel had been made there for decades. Both diesels had four cylinders and were made by VM Motori/Detroit Diesel.

The 2.5 was the speed champion, with 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 11.9 sec, but it was only available in the short wheelbase and with a five-speed manual transmission (which is why it outperformed the 2.8). The thirstiest engine, the 3.3 V6, was also the slowest engine, being beaten (slightly) by the humble 2.4 liter four-cylinder. The reason: the V6 only came with the heavier extended-wheelbase model and an automatic.

The 2.8 came only with a 4 speed automatic, and went 0-100 km/h in 12 sec. Unlike the 2.5, it was available with both short and long wheelbase bodies.

Pricing ranged between £15,572 to £27,082 - at the time of writing, $28,497 before VAT for the 2.4 Voyager to an incredible $49,560 for the top of the line model. That these vehicles sold as well as they did, even with competition from Ford, Volkswagen, and Renault, speaks well for Chrysler's reputation.

The bodies had the same restyling features (grille and headlights) as in the U.S., but they did not have Stow-N-Go seating, and color choices were different. (Thanks, avusblue, for the translation!)

2011 minivan update

As in the United States, the 2.4 liter four cylinder gasoline engine was dropped when the minivans were redesigned for 2008, leaving the 2.8 liter diesel and the 3.8 liter gas V6. The manual transmission was dropped, but both the diesel and gasoline engines were paired with six-speed automatics. Pricing for the Grand Voyager started in 2010 at $40,911 (UK prices, without tax, exchange rates did vary). The United Kingdom’s lineup is shown below (100 kph is 62 mph).

2010 Chrysler Voyager UK Engines
Engine -HorsepowerTorqueUS mpg*l/100km0-60 mphTop MPH
2.8 Diesel161 @ 3,800265 @ 1,600-3,00021.4 / 33.6 12.8 / 7.312.8115
3.8 Gas190 @ 5200225 @ 4,00012.5 / 25.818.8 / 9.112.6120

* City [urban] cycle / highway [extra-urban] cycle. Gas mileage does not directly compare to US estimates due to differences in the testing regiment. The 3.8 / six speed was rated at 16/23 mpg in the US.

For 2011, the 3.8 liter gas engine was replaced by a 3.6 liter engine with greater power (283 hp) and better gas mileage, and the Voyager was switched to the Lancia brand. Full Lancia Voyager information including diesel specs.

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