Dodge Journey becomes Fiat Freemont; first Fiat-branded Chrysler Group vehicle

The first Chrysler Group product to wear the Fiat badge is a Dodge Journey, though with a Fiat face and a pair of diesel engines and renamed the Fiat Freemont.

Named to invoke a spirit of freedom, the Fiat Freemont is a Dodge Journey adapted to the Italian market. There are, in fact, few changes as the convenience features that please American buyers will find favor in Italy as well. The versatile seating, naturally, translates well into Italian, as does the touchscreen infotainment system. Fiat notes that the Freemont has 20 storage compartments, some as large as a city car's trunk.

Fiat was compelled, of course, to give the Freemont a grille that fits the Fiat family, and Fiat being Italian, the suspension was retuned for "efficient alignment with European roads." According to Fiat, "Adjustments have been made to various parts of the suspension design, including stiffening the suspension mountings, improving the front suspension geometry to reduce the roll angle and adjusting the suspension and shock absorber calibration for the optimum combination of comfort and handling which is in line with European standards."

An even more significant change, however, is the choice of engines. Initially the Fiat Freemont will be available with 140-horse and 170-horse versions of the 2.0-liter MultiJet 2 diesel engines with a manual gearbox and front wheel drive. The Freemont will follow up those Fiat-sourced powertrains with all-wheel drive versions powered by the 170-hp 2.0-liter MultiJet 2 and Chrysler's new Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engines, both with automatic gearboxes, "to ensure driving comfort and safety at the same time."

Both diesel engines are rated at 258 lb-ft of torque, with the 170-horse version spreading that level of torque from 1750 rpm and up to 2500 rpm while the 140-horse engine's torque drops off at 2000 rpm. Broad torque bands or not, neither is a ball of fire by American standards. The 170-horse Fiat Freemont takes 11 seconds to get to 62 mph (100 km/h) but soldiers on to an eventual top speed of 120 mph. The 140 horsepower Freemont takes a whole 12.3 seconds to get to 62 mph, and if one is sufficiently patient will arrive at a 110 mph top speed.

The Fiat Freemont will be offered in two trim levels, the Freemont and Freemont Urban. The Freemont trim comes with a full 7-seats configuration, with automatic triple-zone climate control, radio/CD/MP3 with 4.3" touch-screen, trip computer and steering wheel audio controls, 17" alloy wheels, fog lights, cruise control, keyless entry/go, child boosters and an anti-theft alarm. The Urban trim level adds Bluetooth, automatic lights, leather steering wheel and gear knob, rear parking sensors, roof rails, a six-way power driver's seat with adjustable lumbar support, folding electric rear-view mirrors, tinted rear windows and an electrochromatic inside rearview mirror.

Fiat didn't announce the price for the Fiat Jour- ah, Freemont, so we can't compare it to the outgoing Fiat Ulysse minivan. However, like the U.S.-bound Dodge Journeys (and the Dodge-branded Journeys previously sold in Europe), all Freemonts will be built in the same factory in Mexico that produces the new Fiat 500, making a peculiar kind of symmetry in the emerging Fiat empire.

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