The Dodge Journey has had limited success capturing local buyers’ hearts.
Time will tell if consumers react more positively to its clone that wears the Fiat badge and the name Freemont.
It’s affordably priced and with a reasonable equipment list, especially on top specification Lounge models, plus there’s the option of seven seats on all versions.
Inside the Freemont Lounge’s boxy bodywork there’s decent space, though the third row isn’t ideal for adults. Row three folds away flat, while row two slides and folds flat.
There are also thoughtful practical features, including integrated child booster seats (similar to Volvo), a torch that recharges in its holder in the cargo area side panel, good overhead lighting in all rows and the tailgate, and handy oddments stowage.
Road manners are predictable, albeit slightly ponderous and devoid of real finesse or excitement. A cushy ride that soaks up most imperfections is the on-road high point.
Petrol models get a 2.4-litre engine instead of the Journey’s 3.6-litre V6. Its performance is only just adequate with two passengers, and a full load will tax its abilities further. Highway passing would need careful planning.
The optional 2.0-litre turbo-diesel is more convincing, feeling more responsive and with better torque characteristics. However, there’s no auto to mate with it – it's six-speed manual only from $25,990.