After cataloging nearly 300 pictures of Dodge’s “top-secret” crossover, we finally managed to catch it right after a bit of camouflage was taken off, and

Codename JC49

After cataloging nearly 300 pictures of Dodge’s “top-secret” crossover, we finally managed to catch it right after a bit of camouflage was taken off, and for the first time the Dodge signature grille was clearly visible. We had been calling this by it’s codename, JC49, for several months, but sources close to the Dodge division have been referring to this new ute as the “Crew”. The “Crew” (although that may not be the final name) will be built in Toluca, Mexico. It will be built on the Sebring platform, with production scheduled to start in December of 2007, and an on-sale date of early 2008. Because of the timing, we’re not sure if they’ll choose to call it a 2008 model or an early 2009.

In addition to this Dodge, the Chrysler brand may also get a version of this vehicle. Referred to as the “JZ49”, Chrysler’s Sebring-based crossover will likely not arrive before the 2010 model year and may (or may not) replace the retro-styled PT Cruiser. Wearing completely unique sheetmetal, the Chrysler model will only account for 25% of the total units built.

Size-wise, the new crossover measures in a bit larger than the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe and the Toyota RAV4 and hopes to compete directly with Ford’s new Edge. But we’ve spotted it in consumer clinics being compared to Toyota’s Highlander, the Honda Pilot, and Nissan’s Murano as well as the Santa Fe.

The car-based crossover will be offered in a FWD configuration, with AWD optional. We’ve heard a lot of speculation regarding engines and transmissions, but the 3.5-litre V6 (from the Sebring) is guaranteed to be one of the several offerings. And, as seen in previous pictures, the base engine will be a 2.4-litre powerplant with 170+ horsepower.

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