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First look: Dodge embarks on family Journey

Bigger Dodge: Journey crossover could be just 12 months away.

Chrysler Group’s budget brand eyes Territory territory with new seven-seat crossover

25 Aug 2007

THE Chrysler Group’s US-German marriage to Daimler may be all but annulled but its worldwide model rollout continues unabated, as evidenced by the surprise reveal of a new seven-seat crossover from its born-again Dodge brand today.

Presented as the Journey but developed for global consumption under the working title of Crew, the high-riding mid-sized wagon is based on the same D-segment platform that underpins Chrysler’s new Sebring sedan and convertible and their mid-sized sister model from the born-again Dodge brand, the Avenger four-door.

If approved for sale in Australia, which should be all but a formality given the Journey would slot into the growing medium SUV segment alongside Ford’s top-selling Territory and the Toyota Kluger, it would join the small-medium Caliber hatch, Jeep Cherokee-based Nitro medium SUV and Avenger sedan as the fourth, the largest and the first seven-seat Dodge model to be sold here - by late next year.

Dodge’s next new model was widely expected to have been a large sedan or even a light-sized hatch positioned under the Caliber, based on the wild Hornet concept. Instead, the Journey will make its world public debut in near to full production trim at the Frankfurt motor show on September 11.

41 center imageDodge says the Journey is a “right-sized” soft-roader for young singles, couples, families with small children and mature families, and that it delivers versatility, safety, child friendliness, storage, cargo and seating flexibility, and all-weather driving capability.

But it also claims the bold jacked-up two-box wagon, which rides on 2890mm wheelbase that’s 124mm longer than the front-drive Avenger’s and features a five-plus-two-seat interior within a chunky Dodge exterior that’s just a little more understated than that of its smaller stablemates, combines “the capability of an SUV, the practicality of a minivan (people-mover) and the overall efficiency of a passenger car”.

Up front is a now-familiar chromed crosshair grille with Dodge Ram’s head logo, flanked by quad halogen headlights, and hooded by a horizontal aluminium bonnet. Matt-black B and C-pillars exaggerate the lengthy glasshouse between the curved roof and wedge-shaped shoulder line, while heavily chiseled wheel-arches wrap around alloy wheels up to 19-inch in diameter.

The 2009 Journey goes on sale in the US, where it will be available in both five-seat guise and with optional “occasional use” 5+2 seating “for times when additional passengers are along on the journey”, in the first quarter of 2008, and in global volume markets outside North America from mid-2008.

Apart from a claimed 51mm more third-row headroom than “leading North American competitors”, unique Journey amenities include a storage box under the front passenger seat that’s accessed by flipping the seat base forward, two second-row footwell compartments capable of swallowing 12 cans each, rear doors that open 90 degrees to improve third-row access and theatre-style seating comprising second-row seats that are 40mm higher than the front seats and 50/50-split rear seats that are 17mm higher than the middle row.

The second row also slides and features a one-touch folding mechanism to allow rear-seat access and the reversible rear cargo floor features a grocery bin, while US options will include integrated child booster seats and a rear DVD entertainment system.

All models will come standard with twin multi-stage front airbags, seat-mounted front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags, plus an anti-lock braking system (ABS), ESP stability control with Electronic Roll Mitigation and an optional reversing camera.

The new model’s name and engine choices have not been confirmed for Australia but, interestingly, all-wheel drive will only come standard in the US and Canada on mid-range SXT and flagship R/T variants fitted with a 3.5-litre V6, meaning the entry-level SE is front-drive only.

More like the Kluger than the AWD or RWD Territory (or the Dodge Nitro and Jeep Cherokee, for that matter), the Journey’s on-demand all-wheel drive system drives only the rear wheels when required and, curiously, between speeds of 40 and 105km/h.

Several different engine/transaxle combinations will be available around the world, opening with Chrysler’s 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol World Engine, which delivers 129kW and 225Nm of torque and is claimed to return average fuel consumption of around 9.0L/100km, and the Volkswagen-sourced 103kW/310Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel that’s also seen in the Caliber. Dodge says it returns better than 7.0L/100km.

As in the Caliber, the 2.4 is mated to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transaxle, while the diesel comes with a six-speed manual or the first Chrysler Group application of the same Getrag-built dual-clutch transmission with which BMW’s new M3 will soon be offered.

The 175kW/315Nm 3.5-litre V6 comes exclusively with a six-speed auto transaxle with Auto Stick manual selection, while an ethanol-compatible 138kW/259Nm 2.7-litre V6 drives only through a six-speed auto transaxle outside the US.

“The all-new Dodge Journey gives our customers the entire package,” said Chrysler’s executive vice-president – international sales, marketing and business development, Michael Manley.

“With its unique combination of purposeful versatility and bold, youthful styling, this new vehicle from Dodge delivers safety, quality and reliability at a great value. Journey also blends innovative technology, entertainment features and useful storage, all wrapped together with an attitude that can only be Dodge.”

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