Thursday, August 2, 2007

Dodge’s secret seven-seater scooped

02 August 2007

arent company the Chrysler Group might be right in the middle of a change of ownership, but the Dodge brand just keeps on growing. This year alone, its model range is doubling from two to four models, with the Nitro 4x4 and Avenger saloon going on sale; in 2008 we’ll see two further new models, the brand’s first supermini, and this, a seven-seat crossover called the Crew.

These pictures provide our first proper look at Dodge’s new model; our spies were lucky enough to take them just moments after the car’s driver removed much of its disguise. Check out the full range of snaps in our gallery and you’ll see the car’s signature Dodge crosshair grille, but also the raised ride height and ‘H point’ (both typical of a 4x4), and the estate-like extended rear glasshouse (an MPV cue).

So is it a 4x4 or is it an MPV?

Well, it’s both. The Crew will be built at Chrysler’s Toluca plant in Mexico, and shares its platform with the Avenger and Sebring saloons. That means that it’s ostensibly a car, rather than an old-school 4x4, underneath. However, as you can see, it’ll have a higher ride height than most conventional MPVs, and will be offered with all-wheel drive as an option.

The Crew’s engine range is likely to be identical to that of the Avenger, which means a choice of 154bhp 2.0-litre petrol, 170bhp 2.4-litre petrol and 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel motors.

Although the disguise conspires with the tinted windows of this mule car to prevent you seeing inside, company insiders suggest the car will be a proper seven-seater, whose second and third row of seats fold to provide extra cargo storage.

That will make the Crew a natural rival for the Mitsubishi Outlander, Peugeot 4007, Citroen C-Crosser and Hyundai Santa Fe.

How much and when?

Value for money is something that Dodge is building its brand on, and that being the case, we’d expect the Crew range to start well below £20,000, rising to around £23k for the all-wheel drive petrol range-topper.

It’ll go on sale in early 2008, and for those of us keen to get an early look at the car, it’ll be shown for the first time at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

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