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Dodge hits the Blacktop

Hit the road: The Dodge Journey Blacktop gains a number of exterior styling flourishes using gloss black as the main theme.

Journey gets extra kit courtesy of Dodge's special edition Blacktop

Dodge logo7 Apr 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

DODGE has launched a special edition Blacktop version of its sole offering in Australia, the seven-seat Journey, as it looks to find more homes for its ageing MPV.

At $38,500, plus on-road costs, the new variant adds $2000 to the price of the Journey R/T on which it is based, but it gains a bunch of new exterior styling flourishes to help butch it up.

The extra detailing includes the use of gloss black on everything from the exterior mirror caps, the front fascia and headlight housings, to Dodge's “split crosshair” grille which is usually chrome.

This Blacktop theme continues to the 19-inch alloy wheels that are also gloss black. Dodge is offering the variant with a choice of six paint colours, including Redline Red, white, Pitch Black, Pearl White Tri-Coat, Billet Silver and Granite Crystal.

The same 206kW/342Nm Pentastar V6 that powers the SXT and R/T is under the bonnet of the Blacktop matched with a six-speed auto, while inside it continues to offer three rows of seating for up to seven occupants.

Standard gear carried over from the R/T to the Blacktop includes leather seats, heated front seats, Tilt 'N Slide second row seats for easier access to the third row, four-way power adjustment for driver's seat, keyless entry and start and a rechargeable torch.

Safety and audio equipment includes a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, sat-nav, automatic headlights, an 8.4-inch touchscreen multimedia system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, a second-row overhead 9.0-inch video screen with wireless headphones and six speakers with subwoofer and a 368-Watt amplifier.

Dodge importer Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Australia says the Blacktop, which is available in dealerships now, is a special edition, but will not be limited by numbers.

Last April FCA Australia launched a special version of the Journey's Fiat Freemont twin, dubbed the Crossroad, that has become a permanent resident in the range.

Like the Blacktop, the Crossroad offers darkened, aggressive styling cues – it also has a blacked-out grille – and it swapped the Freemont's 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine for the Journey's Pentastar V6 and matched the Journey R/T's price of $36,500.

The Journey's sales are down by 28.3 per cent in the first three months of the year to 311 units, against 434 in the same period last year.

Both it and the Freemont straddle the MPV and SUV markets, with a slightly higher ride-height compared with regular people-movers while still offering seven seats.

According to Dodge's five-year plan that was revealed in May last year at FCA's annual conference, the Journey will be replaced in 2016 and it will be followed by a performance-focused SRT version for the United States market.

FCA Australia is believed to be weighing up an expansion of the Dodge brand Down Under, just three years after suggestions that the iconic American badge was doomed here.

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