Fiat has released first photos of the Dodge Journey crossover that will be cosmetically tweaked and rebadged as the Fiat Freemont when it debuts at next month's Geneva Motor Show before going on sale in Europe in the second half of the year.


At the back the Freemont's rear bumper gains a new profile in comparison to the Journey and as the reflectors are now inserted into the bumper, new tail light lenses with LEDs feature.


The Freemont will have front wheel drive with turbo diesel power units (140 HP or 170 HP 2.0 MultiJet) combined with a manual gearbox at its European launch; petrol engines will follow.

Fiat has released first photos of the Dodge Journey minivan that will be cosmetically tweaked and rebadged as the Fiat Freemont when it debuts at next month’s Geneva Motor Show, before going on sale in Europe in the second half of the year.

Along with a raft of rebadged Chryslers set to debut as Lancias at Geneva, the Freemont will be the first in a series of Chrysler Group vehicles to be rebadged as a Fiat Group Automobiles product since Fiat took a stake in the U.S. carmaker following its emergence from the Chapter 11 procedure in the summer of 2009. The Europe-bound Freemont will be built at the Chrysler Group’s factory at Toluca in Mexico alongside the Journey; the North American-market specific Fiat 500 is also being built at the same plant.

The three photoshops issued by Fiat today show some cosmetic changes wrought to the Journey to try to give it a Fiat identity, and a more modern appeal. At the front there is a new radiator grille with Fiat badging and an evolution of the family ‘whisker’, while the lower front bumper section has been redesigned to give it more the feel of a crossover with a larger meshed section and an aluminium-effect trim plate along the bottom. There are also new fog lights and recesses. The only other external change is at the back, where the bumper gains a new profile; with the reflectors moving to the rear bumper, new LED-equipped tail-lights feature.

The Freemont is the first product of the hasty and low-budget stop-gap strategy being implemented by the two carmakers. Tweaking a crossover which is generally regarded as being towards the lower end of its class is an ambitious strategy for Fiat to pull off, and the Freemont will have its work cut out to succeed the outgoing Ulysse when there are few reasons that customers should choose the Freemont. It should also appeal to some customers who had considered the Croma. The Journey debuted at the 2007 Frankfurt IAA, and at the time was widely regarded as being behind the class leaders; its recent facelift merely bringing it up to the standard it should have been at three years ago, while its rivals haven’t stood still.

The Journey/Freemont is based on Chrysler’s JC platform, the result of a joint venture with Chrysler Group’s previous owners Daimler and Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi. The dimensions (length 489 cm, width 188 cm and height 172 cm) in a car that is deceptively larger than it actually appears to be, benefit interior roominess, aided by the longest wheelbase in its category (289 cm).

The Journey has a seven-seat configuration as standard, with a third row of roomy seats that is easily accessible because the doors open ninety degrees, and this format has been carried over unchanged to the Freemont. The seats of the third row may be folded down with one movement to disappear below the floor line and create a regular load platform. The seats of the second row are fitted higher than those at the front, while the third row is raised in relation to the second, allowing all occupants maximum visibility. The second row can also be fitted with a child booster system: booster seats are used to make sure that children on board are sitting correctly, optimising the seatbelt geometry and guaranteeing greater protection, practicality and comfort.

The other key interior features of the recently-facelifted Journey are a high-mounted driving position, revised front seats, storage compartments, and a flat load area with a capacity of up to 1,461 litres. In a effort to improve the car’s reputation for poor interior quality, Chrysler Group’s designers started afresh with the interior for the facelift, which makes huge strides over the previous version, but still isn’t quite up to European standards. There is a new dashboard, instruments, chrome accents and detailing, and an infotainments system with a colour touchscreen.

In Freemont specification, two equipment levels will be offered on European markets. Both outfits will offer seven seats, triple-zone automatic climate control system, keyless entry system, cruise control, advanced trip computer, tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), fog lights and touchscreen radio with colour screen and controls on the steering wheel. The more ‘metropolitan’ version will include 17” alloys, touchscreen radio with 8.4” screen, SD card and DVD reader, Bluetooth system, rear parking sensors, fold-down door mirrors, automatic headlight activation, darkened rear windows and roof bars.

The Freemont will have front wheel drive with turbo diesel power units (140 HP or 170 HP 2.0 MultiJet) combined with a manual gearbox. Later, the vehicle will also be available in 4x4 versions with 170 HP 2.0 MultiJet and 276 HP 3.6 petrol V6 engines, both with automatic transmissions. With the exception of the 3.6 litre unit from the Chrysler Group Pentastar family and its automatic transmission, all power units are produced and developed by FPT-Fiat Powertrain. The 3.6 V6 4x4 is set to become an instant curiosity in Europe – it being a very remote chance that any customer will specify the Freemont with this engine and drivetrain combination.

Fiat’s press release today claims that the Freemont’s “dynamic performance” has been improved over the facelifted Journey’s, thanks to “a special suspension and steering configuration for greater accuracy and directness”. Driving comfort is improved by “significant improvements to passenger compartment soundproofing”. Safety includes 7 airbags, anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with Hill-Holder, and electronic roll mitigation (ERM) as standard on all vehicles.

© 2011 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed