GENEVA PREVIEW: Dodge Journey reborn as Fiat Freemont
- New name
- Fiat Powertrain diesels replace bought-in VW engine
- 4WD and Chrysler petrol V6 coming later
- Revamped suspension, steering and soundproofing
- Incorporates Journey's recent styling/interior upgrades
- Automatic option returns (dropped during Dodge version life cycle in Europe)
New management, new name: Under Italian control, Chrysler's Dodge Journey, with chassis changes and Fiat diesel engines, becomes the Fiat Freemount for Europe, on sale in the second half
The Freemont, based on the Dodge Journey, will be produced in Toluca, Mexico, also home of the Fiat 500 for North America.
"The Fiat Freemont is in fact a 'factotum vehicle' designed to meet the diverse needs of families and those seeking a spacious, comfortable and versatile vehicle to cater for the frenetic pace of everyday life or weekend leisure time," the automaker said in a statement.
The seven-seater MPV/minivan optionally can be fitted with second row child booster seats.
Chrysler, of which Fiat now owns 25%, recently updated the Journey with exterior styling changes (new bumpers, grille and LED tail lights) and a completely new interior, which uses better quality materials, as part of a group-wide revamp of popular models ahead of the launch, in the next few years, of all-new models developed on platforms shared with Fiat.
Fiat will offer the Freemont version with just two trim levels. Both will have seven seats, triple-zone automatic climate control system, keyless entry, cruise control, trip computer, tyre pressure monitoring, fog lights and touch screen radio with colour screen and steering wheel controls. The pricier version will include 17” alloys, touch screen radio with 8.4” screen, SD card and DVD reader, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors, folding door mirrors, automatic headlight activation, rear privacy glass and roof bars.
The Fiat models will have front wheel drive with two turbodiesel engines (a new two-litre, 140hp Fiat Power Train (FPT) unit replacing the VW engine used in previous Dodge Journey versions shipped to UK and Europe, or a FPT 170hp two-litre MultiJet) combined with a manual gearbox. Later, the vehicle will also be available with four wheel drive combined with the Fiat 170hp diesel or Chrysler's new 276hp 3.6-litre petrol V6, both with automatic transmission.
Fiat has also reworked the chassis with new suspension and steering for greater accuracy and directness (the Dodge had too soft and floaty a ride for Europe, in just-auto's limited experience of the model). There have also been "significant improvements" to passenger compartment soundproofing.
Safety equipment will include seven airbags, anti-lock braking with brake assist, and ESP with hill-holder and electronic roll mitigation (ERM) as standard.
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