DODGE’S JOURNEY MUST MAKE INROADS

Chrysler LLC is now divorced from Daimler, although the Germans still own a chunk of Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge. Interestingly, Dodge is the most popular brand for the group in the United States. Dodge’s 6.5% market share in America makes the 1.4%/2009 target that Chrysler LLC has set for itself in Europe seem embarrassing.

But Chrysler and Dodge have never been taken seriously on European soil. At least Jeep has its genuineness. Thus Chrysler’s journey to significance continues across the pond. And it continues with the Journey.

A few issues that strike me as problematic arise: clean styling is great, but the cleanliness of it fails to create a stand-out package. The 2.7L and 3.5L V6’s are underachievers, with just 235 max horsepower and 16 or 17 mpg in the city for the American model. Dodge will make use of the so-far impressive Dual-Clutch Gearbox, until now only utilized in VW Group products. But that’s paired with a turbodiesel, which as you guessed, keeps that Journey in other lands. The crossover can seat up to seven and offers some very practical storage options.

Success is not measured solely in sales, mind. Dodge will likely sell quite a few of these vehicles to North American buyers looking for a deal. Perhaps 0% purchase financing or $1,500 cashback deals after every Chrysler dealer gets sick of 20 silver and red Journeys on their lot. Success will be measured by the Journey’s European infiltration and Dodge’s ability to sell Journey’s for something close to list price. Otherwise, Jim Press will have to come up with something better for 2013. (Are we already talking about model year 2013?)

Chrysler and Dodge can not make mediocre vehicles anymore and expect to succeed. Toyota can suffer through that for a model cycle and continue to ride their brand value and reliability. Dodge possesses neither. Chrysler LLC’s next few debuts MUST head straight to the top of their respective classes. Chrysler would then ride the tidal wave of a desirable car for two or three years (as shown by the 300C) and they’ll meet with success. The Journey may be a decent car, but decent isn’t enough for Dodge. Not in 2007.