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The Dodge’s Journey

by David Zatz on

Analysis.  By now, the Dodge Journey should have been replaced.

The Journey is the last holdout of a platform created from Mitsubishi’s dimensions, with numerous changes, part of DaimlerChrysler’s ambition to have Mercedes, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, and Hyundai in one company. Based loosely on the Chrysler Sebring/200, it was heavily revised not long after its birth, after a corporate changeover.  A new version based on the new 200 was expected, but never showed up.

The crossover filled in the gap left by the short-wheelbase Dodge Caravan, which was not replaced in 2008. It’s still available with the original 2.4 liter engine and with the Pentastar V6, hooked up to six-speed automatics, and is priced to sell.

We currently do not have any definitive sources on the Journey, which has been more successful (relative to overall FCA or segment sales) outside the United States than within it — including when it is sold as the Fiat Freemont. However, we can make some educated guesses.

First, let’s start with the knowledge that Dodge is shifting to emphasize muscle rather than being the everyman’s carline, while Chrysler is to be expanded to take over Plymouth’s ancient role as a somewhat upscale car for the masses.

(Originally, Plymouth sold at a premium to Ford and Chevrolet — and it was an easy sell. It was also a rebadge of the single-year Chrysler Four and, before that, of the much-revised “Good Maxwell.” That’s 90 years ago, which is why many still think of Plymouth as a stripped-down Dodge selling at the very base of the market — the sad position it tended to hold during the 1980s and early 1990s.)

Now, let’s consider what would be most logical. Fiat Chrysler has been working on a new rear wheel drive platform and architecture, one which is modular enough to go from compact to large cars. One planned result is an Alfa Romeo crossover. It’s quite likely that, somewhere in the CTC — or even in Milan — or in both places, and certainly in Chennai, India — there are people working on a Dodge mid-sized crossover which would replace the Journey.


Maybe they will keep the name Journey, or shift it to a Chrysler front wheel drive crossover based on the 200 and Cherokee, or maybe they will bring back the Magnum name; either way, the new Dodge crossover would be far more in character for a company that sells the Charger and Challenger and is best known for muscle than for people movers these days (even if the Caravan is still, by far, the most popular Dodge.)

Regardless, I would expect to see the next Dodge crossover sporting an eight-speed automatic driving the rear wheels, with a profile more like Porsche Cayenne than the current Journey. At roughly the same time, I see space at one of the two CUSW plants in the northern United States taken up by a new Chrysler — call it the 250, the 500, Journey, or Pacifica, it’ll be the spiritual successor of the current Dodge Journey.

In the meantime, the Journey remains competitive, still sells in decent numbers around the world, and would be uneconomical to move from its base in Toluca, Mexico, which would otherwise be left with nothing but Fiat 500s.

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