A mid-size crossover SUV, the Dodge Journey began its life as a 2009 model late in the 2008 year. Constructed by the Dodge division of Chrysler, the Journey was first debuted at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show and later at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. In March 2008 production versions of the 2009 model years cars went on sale in the US. Within automotive circles the Journey was dubbed the JC49. Derived from the Avenger sedan, the Journey offers minivan-like interior conveniences while comfortably seating up to seven passengers.
It featured a shorter wheelbase 113.8 inches than the Chrysler Pacifica, and shares an updated platform with the Dodge Avenger. The Journey had room for either five, or five + 2 passengers with four forward-hinged doors, and like early models of the Chrysler minivan, it was offered with a four-cylinder engine. Ryan Nagode was responsible for the exterior styling. The Journey is manufactured at the 220-acre Toluca Car Assembly in Toluca, Mexico on the same assembly line as the Fiat 500.
The base-model Journey SE was available only as front-wheel drive and came equipped with a 2.4L four-cylinder engine. From 2008 until 2010 the available trims in North America were the SE 2.4L 173 hp I4, the SXT 3.5L 235 hp V6, the SXT AWD 3.5L 235 hp V6, the R/T – 3.5L 235 hp V6 and the R/T AWD 3.5L 235 hp V6. Some of the features included an aluminum hood, composite plastic tailgate, rear doors that opened at a 90-degree angle, which made for easier entry and car seat installation. A third of the vehicle's body structure by weight was constructed of high-strength steel. Outside of the US, the Journey was marketed in both left hand and right-hand drive.
Other features included rear climate control vents and optional rear climate control panel, under the floor storage lockers behind the front seats, extra power outlets, interior child-view mirror, optional hard-drive based stereo/navigation/phone system, and optional booster seats for older children. Another unique feature of the Journey was theatre seating that featured the second row being quite a bit higher than the first row and a third row of foldaway 'occasional use' seats. The Journey got between 16-19 mpg in the city, and 23-25 mpg in the highway. In the US and Canada multi-stage front driver and passenger air bags were standard, along with front-seat mounted side air bags, three-row side-curtain air bags, electronic stability program, standard four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes, brake assist and electronic roll mitigation. Other available features were rollover sensing, traction control, a rear backup camera and tire pressure monitors.
For 2010 the Journey received active front head restraints added to its list of standard safety features. The following year the outside and the inside was updated. Five trim levels were now available beginning with the Express and ranging through the Mainstreet, Crew, R/T and the top trim being the LUX. New standard features this year were cargo tie-down loops, an in-floor storage bin and 12-volt auxiliary power outlets.
For 2011 numerous updates were made to the model that included revamping the grille, the inside of the car, the lower front fascia, suspension, steering, powertrain. It also showcased Dodge's brand new logo, which was introduced in 2010. Chrysler announced that it would no longer market the Journey in Europe as a Dodge model after the2011 model year. Instead they would market the model as Fiat Freemont, which was an Ulysse replacement. Today the Freemont continues to be manufactured in Mexico. At the Geneva Motor Show in 2011 the new Fiat Freemont was debuted. Fiat has chosen to no longer market Dodge and Chrysler in Europe, as all Dodges became Fiat vehicles and all Chryslers became Lancia vehicles.
The Journey fell into the category of being Dodge's smallest SUV for the 2012 model year once Nitro, the smaller but pricier counterpart, finished production. For this year Chrysler added the Dodge logo with two slanted rectangles instead of just showing the Dodge text.
In 2008 a Journey variation for the Chinese market was debuted at Auto China. Dubbed the JCUV, initial model production started in 2009. For the 2010 model year the model name was relocated to the right-end of the trunk lid and replaced by the brand emblem.
Chrysler rebadged the Journey as the Fiat Freemont in Europe after the 2011 model year. The Freemont continues to be manufactured in Mexico. The much larger Durango took the place of the Journey after 2011. At the 2011 Geneva Motor Show the new Fiat Freemont was debuted. At the close of May of 2011 the Freemont was launched in Italy. Featuring different suspension tuning and cosmetic changes in both the front and rear bumpers, the inside of the Freemont is completely different in comparison to the Journey.
Two front-wheel-drive turbo-diesel versions of the Freemont were the 140 PS and the 170 PS version of Fiat's 2.0 L Multi-jet turbo-diesel. An a new all-wheel-drive version of 170 PS diesel and the Pentastar V6 will be introduced eventually. In the beginning the Freemont was only available in LHD markets only. In April 2013 a RHD model was introduced to Australia. Both the Freemont and the Journey are available in Brazil and Australia. Though to make the market a bit more distinct for the two vehicles, only the 2.0 and 2.4L 4-cylinder engines are available in the Freemont, while the Journey is only sold with the Pentastar V6 engine.
In Japan the Dodge Journey is known Dodge JC because the name 'Journey' has already been used by Isuzu Motors. These models were qualified by the Japanese government to be included in Subsidy Scheme for Environmentally Friendly Vehicles.
Chrysler has announced that the Journey will get a second-generation modification for 2015. It will debut with the new mid-size sedan Avenger replacement dubbed 'Aspen'. Both of these models will be based on Fiat-derived prototypes.