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Since Daimler and Chrysler went their separate ways, the latter faced somewhat of a dilemma in the commercial vehicle segment, since the Sprinter van was essentially a Mercedes vehicle.
Now the Ram division is jumping back into the fold, with a commercial variant of the Dodge Caravan. Similar in concept to the original T-wagon based models of the 1980s, this one is appropriately enough, named Ram Cargo Van and features solid side panels in place of glass windows and a flat load floor to maximize carrying capacity, which stands at 144 cubic feet.
Although the Ram Cargo Van or (RCV for short), is powered by the same 283 horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 found in the Dodge Caravan, it has a retuned , heavier-duty suspension with load leveling aimed at commercial use, plus a heavy-duty radiator and transmission cooler to better cope with frequent stop/start delivery driving.
Switchable transmission gear shifting, low drag rear bearings and brake calipers, along with a standard rear spoiler are designed to save fuel, especially important among many small business owners who rely on such vehicles.
Options on the Ram Cargo Van range from a satellite navigation system and in-dash media center with 30 gigabyte hard drive to a rear back up camera, cargo divider and vinyl window shading. Ram Cargo Vans will be produced at Chrysler’s Windsor, Ontario assembly facility and will go on sale in the third quarter of this year as 2012 models, pricing is expected to be announced at launch time.
We’ve heard a lot of talk about what kind of cars might result from the Fiat/Chrysler venture, but until now, most if was speculation.
Outwardly, the Freemont is set to look virtually identical to the Journey; indeed both vehicles will be built side by side at the same plant in Toluca Mexico; but aside from minor differences such as lights, safety equipment and feature content, the Freemont will differ by using Fiat powertrains – 2.0-liter Multijet turbo diesel four cylinder engines, likely rated at 140 and 175 horsepower, teamed with a manual gearbox and front-wheel drive.
In addition, the suspension, steering and chassis have been retuned in the quest to make the Freemont feel more ‘Fiat like’ on the road.
Chrysler’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, automatic transmission and AWD, currently offered on the Journey, are slated to join the options list down the road, but given high taxes and fuel costs in Europe, the vast majority of Freemonts sold there will be diesel powered.
In an effort to simplify the ordering process and keep the price attractive to potential buyers, Fiat will offer just two trim levels, the more upmarket of which will sport 17-inch alloy wheels, special trim accents, standard Bluetooth communication system, rear parking assist, fold down mirrors, automatic headlights and privacy glass.
See AutoGuide’s complete 2011 Geneva Auto Show preview here.