The Dodge Journey. Don't tell me... it's the start of a new journey for the fledgling car maker?
It certainly is. It's apt that the newly independent Dodge, and sister brands Chrysler and Jeep, have only just broken from the shackles of the DaimlerChrysler partnership and their first new product is the Journey MPV/hatch. It's designed to replace the Voyager in the UK, which is being abandoned as Chrysler will henceforth import only the bigger Grand Voyager. Dodge suits talk up the Journey as a new type of vehicle (surprise surprise), a crossover stealing the best bits of MPVs, hatchbacks and - you guessed it - SUVs. Think of it as a chunkier Ford S-Max rival.
So what's underneath the Journey?
The Journey will be Dodge-branded only and is based on the Avenger saloon, so comes with that car's 2.4-litre petrol and VW-sourced 2.0-litre diesel. The wheelbase of the platform is 124mm longer than on the Avenger, to free up more space for bodies and baggage. Both powertrains will be available with a manual or auto gearbox, all driving the front wheels.
Another cheap 'n' cheerful Dodge cabin?
It's hard to tell from these photos. Even the UK company suits admit that Dodge interiors aren't the best 'but they're getting better', said one. The design of the Journey looks slicker than previous efforts, but we're still holding out for some quality materials that feel more robust and - dream on - luxurious. It'll be a practical workhorse, the Journey. All versions will get seven seats as standard, and we're promised underfloor stowage areas like on the Grand Voyager. We haven't sat in one yet, but we suspect the rearmost pair of seats will be occasional jump seats rather than full adult-perching armchairs.
So when can I buy a Journey?
It goes on sale in August 2008 - a full year after it's being shown at Frankfurt - and we hear it will cost somewhere between £17-18,000. Standard equipment will include three-row side curtain airbags and ESP stability control, plus a raft of other toys to uphold Dodge's value-for-money reputation.