Fiat Freemont – new AWD

It’s taken a year following the relaunch of the vehicle, but Fiat has finally launched the all-wheel drive version of the Freemont in the United States. The latest take on this sturdy 7-seater is far from just an upgrade. Whereas the original model, as unveiled at last year’s Geneva motor show, was essentially a rebadged Dodge Journey, the new AWD is in fact its own vehicle.

2012 Fiat Freemont

** Fiat Freemont **

Fiat Freemont – not Dodge

The AWD model is made by Fiat, not Dodge, and offers more height off the ground, making it feel a lot more like the SUV the Freemont was always supposed to be. However, calling it an out-and-out all-wheel drive vehicle is a bit misleading.

The Freemont itself decides whether or not to operate in 4WD or 2WD mode depending on the conditions using sensors. When it requires a bit more traction, it switches from front-wheel to all-wheel drive without the driver even realising. This is an extremely worthy and efficient addition to the model.

Elsewhere, the Freemont remains largely unchanged, which is no bad thing. The engine choice remains the 2-litre MultiJet 2, which generates 170 horsepower, and the much more powerful 3.6-litre Chrysler Group Pentastar.

Fiat Freemont – Interior

Inside, Fiat claims there are more than 30 seat configurations, but the only ones you really need to know about are the standard 3+2+2 layout, with three seats extended across the back row, which also folds flat. The second row also folds and slides away, and to the rear is the boot with a capacity close to 1,500 litres, enough space to stow 10 suitcases.

Fiat Freemont – Gadgets

Fiat and its partner Dodge have created an elegant-looking main console; all in black with silver detail on the steering wheel and a large sat-nav screen taking up the centre of the display. The radio, with its colour display, is touch screen, and there are steering controls so you won’t have to take your hands off the wheel when adjusting settings. Other gadgets include a keyless ignition system, Bluetooth and three-zone climate control. Standard safety features on the Freemont range from the seven airbags, the roll mitigation system, tyre pressure sensors and the hill holder function.

Fiat Freemont Interior Seating

Fiat Freemont – the difference

Some critics have argued that the Fiat Freemont represents little more than a rebadged Dodge Journey following the recent tie-up between the Italian and American automakers, but the even the standard-drive version represented an improvement on the US model. Fiat tweaked the suspension and steering, made some improvements to the dashboard, and added soft-touch materials and better sound-proofing. There are also new bumpers, LED tail lights and a new front grille with the Fiat logo, of course.

Fiat Freemont – Conclusion

Overall then, the new Fiat Freemont AWD represents a notable improvement on the front-wheel drive version of the same vehicle released last year, which in turn is also a better take on the Dodge Journey. So for those people out there that thought this was little more than a Journey, think again. Fiat has done a decent job making sure this is a 7-seater SUV that stands out from the crowd.

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