Not long ago, the Brazilian car market wanted SUVs badly, but they were just too expensive. Fiat has brightly explored this by creating the Palio Weekend Adventure. With its facelifted version, Adventure Locker, Fiat has gone a (little) step further.

Not long ago, the Brazilian car market had very few options, low growth rates and a huge repressed demand for new vehicles. As in other parts of the world, off-road vehicles, such as SUVs, were an object of desire, but they were just too expensive for most of Brazilian customers. Fiat has intelligently explored these characteristics by creating a sort of “off-road” version of its small station wagon, the Palio Weekend Adventure, in 1999, which came with a higher and reinforced suspension that could deal with Brazilian’s poor pavement conditions, even when it relates to tarmac. Soon competitors started to copy the idea and Ford came up with something even more interesting, the EcoSport, a Fiesta-based SUV. Fiat had to go a little further and it did, with the new Palio Adventure Locker, a even higher station wagon with an electronic locking differential.

The system, called ELD (Electronic Locker Differential), has been developed with Eaton and can only be activated when the car is stopped and. ELD is usable only until the car reaches 20 km/h, when it is automatically turned off. The system, as it is obvious, cannot be used in normal driving conditions. As we have said, it is a little better than no resources to face slippery surfaces, but still does not compensate the lack of an AWD system, as Fiat Panda offers in Europe (cost is said to be the villain). This will probably make this “developing countries’ crossover” still be called a “boutique off-road”, as some have called in Brazil these high suspension vehicles with no other benefit than a more resistant suspension.

Besides the new Adventure Locker, the facelifted Palio Weekend, which has already been sold in Europe, there is a new version called Trekking, which is nothing more than the previous Adventure with a smaller engine (1.4-litre instead of the 1.8-litre that equips the top of the line version). The biggest changes Palio Weekend has suffered are in the front fascia and the rear, with new Linea-inspired backlights. This Grande Punto-based sedan will be produced in Brazil very soon and will probably be exported to many other countries, most of them in Latin America. Prices in Brazil range from R$ 39,920 (about US$ 24,000) for the basic version, ELX 1.4 Flex, to R$ 53,850 (little less than US$ 32,500) for the Adventure Locker 1.8 Flex. ABS and airbags are not included…

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