Hi John, as family of four with two teenage daughters we have been looking around at SUV style vehicles for probably 18 months. The Kluger felt the best but the price was too high. Last week we heard about the fiat Fremont and after test driving it, it ticks all the boxes. I was concerned that a 2.4-litre petrol engine would be poor to drive, however I was impressed at the drive and the engine gearbox combination. The layout inside was the best we have seen. At $28K drive away it all seems to good to be true. I am aware of its Dodge heritage and some of the Dodge journey reviews are quite harsh. Do have any thoughts on this car?
The Fiat Freemont is a cut-price and re-badged Dodge Journey with a smaller engine. While the Dodge Journey Range stretches from $32,500 to $36,500, the Freemont is much cheaper: $27,000 to $33,00. (All prices not including on-road costs.)
So the Freemont isn't a bad size, and it certainly is affordable. Interestingly, the Freemont is made in the USA, while the Dodge is manufactured in Mexico.
The principal difference is the driveline - the Freemont's 2.4-litre four makes 125kW and 220Nm peaks, drives through a six-speed auto and drinks 91 RON unleaded. The Journey's 3.6-litre V6 makes 206kW (65 per cent more power) and 342Nm (55 per cent more torque).
Fiat is managing to sell about 100 Freemonts a month, which is about the same sales volumes as the Dodge Journey - and very similar to the Holden Colorado 7. It's not a very popular vehicle - probably because it is such a secret. Fiat and its corporate twin Alfa Romeo have kicked a huge sales goal this year so far. Prices have been slashed and sales have skyrocketed. For the first third of this year, Fiat and Alfa Romeo sales of 3336 units represents an improvement of 181.3 percent over the same period in 2013. The over-acrhing company, Fiat Chrysler Group, is kicking a similar goal: the company has sold 13,177 vehicles to date – 3,947 vehicles up on the same period in 2013 and well ahead of the current industry trend.
EQUIPMENT PROS & CONS
The equipment levels on Freemont are impressive, given the price: 17-inch alloys, proximity key, dual-zone air conditioning, trip computer and tyre pressure monitoring system, etc. It's only a four-star vehicle on safety, however. And it has only a (skinny) space-saver spare tyre. And it is front-wheel drive only, so while it looks like an SUV, it's really just a glorified people mover.
It's quite versatile and practical, and as you say, the price is right. My principal reservations would be build quality/reliability - it's a re-badged dodge, basically, and Dodge doesn't enjoy a stellar reputation there. It's a fairly old product in terms of its lifecycle, and the four stars is a worry if you crash.
More on the Freemont safety rating by ANCAP. (This was the diesel version only - for technical reasons. It doesn't necessarily follow that the crash performance of the petrol will be the same.)
See below: JD Power's 2014 US Vehicle Dependability Study, and Dodge's second-last ranking in it... Also of concern with low-volume models from little-known brands is: how familiar will the technical support apparatus be when it comes to solving problems with the vehicle and how long will it take them to get parts in? (Difficult questions to answer.)
Here are the full Fiat Freemont specifications in directly comparable format (click on the exact model you want)
And here is the same thing for the Dodge Journey
You talked about engine performance: the Freemont is okay without being stellar. Having a six-speed gearbox helps mitigate its just-adequate outputs. For comparison:
- 2.4-litre petrol four
- Kerb weight: 1757kg
Hyundai Santa Fe Active
- 2.4-litre petrol four
- Kerb weight: 1794kg
(And the Hyundai is $10,000 more.)
Basically I think it's one of those items you'd see in the bins out the front of a shop marked 'SALE'. You know it's not as good as the stuff inside, but it's not awful, and the price, as you say, is right.