Crossover is a word that gets bandied around with increasing frequency by manufacturers – a suggestion that they have cleverly mashed together the best bits of different cars to create something unique.
The Dodge Journey is the latest such vehicle to hit the market. Due to arrive in UK showrooms in August, Dodge claims it’s part-SUV, part-MPV with aggressive, sporty styling.
It looks more SUV than MPV and that’s no bad thing. Rugged off-road styling helped shift 710 Dodge Caliber models in March, making it Chrysler UK’s biggest seller and taking one in six sales across its three brands.
Like the Caliber, the Journey is only a skin-deep SUV and UK buyers won’t be able to choose a four-wheel drive option.
Instead, engine choices are the same as the Chrysler Sebring – a 2.4 -litre petrol engine or the ubiquitous VW 2.0-litre turbo diesel.
Unsurprisingly, the latter is expected to be the more popular, taking 86% of UK sales.
It’s a dated unit and, although quieter than in the Sebring, it’s still noisier than newer oil burners.
But it manages impressive fuel economy and delivers a decent shove of mid-range torque, which will further tempt buyers away from the more powerful but lacklustre petrol.
Inside, the Journey feels bright and spacious thanks to large windows and a dashboard that slopes away from passengers.
There’s also a marked improvement in quality throughout, let down slightly by the shiny plastic instrument binnacle.
It’s usually obstructed by the steering wheel and looks like an afterthought on an otherwise well designed dash.
Clever family-friendly features include stain-resistant upholstery on the mid-range SXT trim, wide opening rear doors and cubby-holes hidden under the floor and front passenger seat.
However, for an MPV it’s surprising that none of the Journey’s seven seats are removable, though the rear two seats fold flat.
Dodge is launching the Journey with an aggressive marketing campaign, centred on rock music and aimed at young families.
Though not as versatile as some of its competitors, muscular styling and keen pricing should attract new buyers looking for a less mainstream alternative to a European mini-MPV.
Price: £16,995-£21,995 (est)
Engines: 2.4-litre petrol, 167hp; 2.0-litre turbo diesel, 138bhp
Performance: 0-62mph 10-11sec (est); top speed 114mph
Transmission: Petrol: 5sp man
Diesel: 6sp man, 6sp dual clutch auto
Efficiency: 32.1-43.5mpg; CO2 tbc
CAP RV 3yr/30k: tbc
Rivals: VW Sharan, Mazda5
Strengths: Stylish, spacious, good value for money, seven seats
Weaknesses: Smooth but slow automatic, seats not removable