DETROIT -- Chrysler Group's introduction Monday of an all-wheel-drive variant for its redesigned 2015 Chrysler 200 sedan makes me think about another future vehicle: the replacement for the Dodge Journey.
It's not hard to see, really. Take the redesigned 200's front half, extend the rear to include a third row of seats and a hatchback and build it all on top of the 200's disconnecting awd system.
Presto: you've got a three-row, mid-sized crossover with the utility of a station wagon and room for six. Make it at Chrysler's Sterling Heights Assembly plant to replace the outgoing Dodge Avenger instead of the Journey's current factory in Toluca, Mexico, and you pick up all of the efficiencies missing from the current Journey.
Not to say that there's anything wrong with the Journey. Folks that own them seem to love them. But the Daimler-era design is getting long in the tooth, and the crossover wagon could be so much better than it currently is with a little investment.
If this plan sounds eminently doable, it should be. From what my sources tell me, this is something close to Chrysler's plan. Expect the Journey's replacement to show up next year.
The only big question remaining is whether it will stay a Dodge, which would necessitate a new nose, or be added to Chrysler's thin three-vehicle current lineup, which might necessitate a new name. Maybe the Chrysler 250?
I'll be honest: I have an affinity for what used to be called the station wagon. I love the utility that the rear hatch and folding seats provide. An all-wheel-drive version, priced attractively because of the parts and development savings from building it off the 200, would be a winner.
The only entity that might experience a downside to a Chrysler-badged Journey replacement is the Dodge brand, which would lose another nameplate from its lineup.
Dodge brand head Tim Kuniskis says he has a specific vision for the 100-year-old brand. Losing the Journey to the brand across the hall shouldn't hurt his plans to make Dodge about affordable performance.
Chrysler's plans, of course, have been known to change.
For example, we're still waiting for a small pickup replacement for the former Dodge Dakota. But judging from the Chrysler 200 shown in Detroit, designers working on the replacement for the Dodge Journey should have a good set of bones with which to work.