• Dec 14th 2009 at 3:20PM
  • 42
SRT-prepped Dodge Journey R/T – Click above for high-res image gallery

We've always been intrigued by the notion of a higher performance people carrier, from back before Car and Driver magazine's Ford Windstar-based SHOStar to various shadetree high-strung turbocharged Chrysler minivans and outright lunacy like Renault's Espace-bodied F1 car.

Of course, that isn't what you're looking at here: it's what appears to be an SRT-tweaked Dodge Journey R/T, a vehicle that we want to like for its useful size and packaging, but can't because of its indifferent drivetrains and tragic interior materials and ergonomics.

Now, normally we wouldn't get too excited about something like this, in part because private owners often add badges from other vehicles in order to make them seem more impressive (we just saw an i-VTEC Chevrolet Beretta the other day), but these spy shots sent in from reader Nick Leonard appear to be the real deal – not only does the Journey in question boast a well-integrated new front fascia, but also unique wheels, a lowered stance and a quad-outlet rear exhaust surrounded by a different valance. The clincher? Michigan manufacturer licence plates.

Nick says notes that he came upon the car in the parking lot of a Best Buy in Saginaw, Michigan, and he only noted a laptop bag and a jacket in the passenger seat – no sign of any further testing equipment or interesting things on the dashboard. He further instructs that there was an AWD badge on the car (not pictured).

Now, it isn't at all clear that this is a production-intent vehicle, especially considering that R/T and SRT are usually mutually-exclusive designations in the House of Pentastar. This vehicle might be something that bored engineers cooked up for their own entertainment, for a SEMA reveal, or perhaps for a customer clinic – but who knows? It could be something, right? If so, let's hope there's some genuine chutzpah under the sheetmetal, otherwise we're looking at the decline and dilution of the SRT-branded vehicles as we know it.

Check out our gallery of images below... and thanks for the shots, Nick!

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is one of the most useful and practical vehicles out there. Really a shame that it is not taking off in USA in large numbers. I hope Chrysler will keep it and will continue to improve it. Maybe increase MPG.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Reliability is VERY questionable too. Especially in the first model year, not sure if that's changed (too early to tell) but I avoided looking at one when I was looking for a small 3-row crossover last month.
        I did ride in one, and the interior (especially the dash plastic) was HORRID, and the seats uncomfortable.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's probably a test vehicle for some unspecified component. There's no way they'd shove huge wheels on it, and not do more to the suspension, brakes etc (which, to the untrained eye, all appears to be stock).

        Also, the SRT+R/T ... no way. (Although, you could buy a Charger R/T with an R/T package, which was the Daytona pack less the colour and badging/graphics).

        I doubt we'll see an SRT4/6 Journey... but the Cherokee SRT8 is selling way better than anyone thought, so we'll see I suppose.

        Oh, and the only thing that is REALLY wrong with the interior, is the stupid stupid STUPID placement of the radio/NAV.
        • 5 Years Ago
        MemphisNET is correct. This is an engineering test mule of some kind... the badging is just a placeholder (snap the red of of any SRT badge & dimensional R/T graphics).

        This could be a preliminary project for the MOPAR Underground, they develop the SEMA projects. Dodge VP Ralph Gilles has a soft spot for people movers. He upgraded his personal Dodge Caravan R/T with a tweaked 3.8L motor,Viper brakes, etc... then ran the same vehicle in the One Lap of America a few years back. He also used it as a track car

        He got a kick out of "stealth" performance! He did move up to racing SRT-4s & using a Viper ACR for track events. Might still have a soft spot for high performance grocery getters? The Journey is a bit too vanilla for an SRT badge (IMO)... but Dodge gets an "A" for effort?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I rented one for a week. They're a sharp looking vehicle, but the interior is not special at all. The seats were terribly uncomfortable. My family and I were upset just being inside the car the whole trip.

        Chrysler really needs to get their act together with fit and finish.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree. One of the nicer looking crossovers on the market.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I like the car, hate the dash that I'd have to look at every day.

        They look good from the outside, as I've seen more driving around lately. When I sat inside one at the auto show, it felt a bit like a VW Beetle, with the front of the windshield feeling too far away. The speedo setup reminded me too much of my '79 Horizons too.

        Hopefully this is inline for an interior refresh soon (can't remember from that slideshow).

        Oh, and an R/T version would probably sell well too (relatively of course). This car isn't too wide to make it a pain to park, and it a good evolution of the nearly extinct wagon.
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      The new SRT badging is for an appearance package like the SRT look package on the 300C. SRT will not longer just be high performance.
      JDM Life
      • 5 Years Ago
      The interior on this is horrible...just down right rental standards.

      At least the exterior is better...but don't enter the vehicle !
      • 5 Years Ago
      I would argue that the decline and dilution of the SRT-branded vehicles happened a long time ago.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You think the SRT Magnum diluted the brand. That is an aggressive car that the American Market is too stupid for. I have an R/T Magnum and its a great car. No personality? Really, apparently you don't know about cars very much. You diss the Magnum SRT but not the Charger or Challenger which are basically the same cars? The Magnum offers a lot more than any crossover. If you think the Magnum is no good then you need to hang out at the Laguna Seca raceway and watch the big black one lap Porche's and other exotic cars. Nothing is better to see than the look on the face of some jackarse as you blow his doors off in your station wagon.

        The magnum is a pretty hot seller in Europe where station wagon is not a bad word.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not sure how you call out the Magnum SRT-8 and the 300C SRT-8 but leave the Charger alone. They are about as similar as you can get, and all perform unbelievably for vehicles in their price bracket and size. You'll be hard pressed to find a car that can perform like any of the above 3 for right at or in some cases under $40k.

        As for the Crossfire SRT-6, it WAS a disappointment at its price point, but it was only its price point that held it back. If you drive it I think you'll find that its a great drive and good fun, and can now be had used with low miles for a fantastic price.

        As for the Caliber SRT-4, it does pale in comparison to the Neon SRT-4, but again for $24k, its a pretty great performance bargain. I know a number of people who run them around here and believe me, they are no joke. The pull harder than you might believe. It just so happens they are sinfully ugly, though not as bad as a regular Caliber.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Completely disagree with Magnum SRT8 and 300C. Caliber was a disapointment if only because it has some big shoes to fill (The Neon SRT4, while 'cheap' -- was an insanely fun car BECAUSE of its limitations).

        The Crossfire SRT6 was a bit of a let down because of price, options (lack of) etc.
        The standard Crossfire is a much more satisfying vehicle; well, used it is -- I have one. At 60k CND it was a let down in the auto-enthusiast circle. At 15k with less than 20,000km on it, its fantastic.

        Anyway, I think overall the SRT group has done a fantastic job.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6
        Dodge Magnum SRT-8
        Chrysler 300C SRT-8
        Dodge Caliber SRT-4

        I've driven them all, and none lives up to the performance bar or the personality built into the Viper SRT-10 or the SRT-4 that started the name. There are some spectacular vehicles on your list there (especially the Grand Cherokee), but even the great ones don't match the personality those first two SRTs had.

        That raw, rough around the edges feel was the best part of the SRT-4. "This Viper seat really doesn't fit into this Neon chassis... and it won't really line up with the steering wheel... and 230whp is really pretty useless through the first couple gears with these pizza cutter wheels... but screw it. Put it in there anyway!"

        Then they started putting the SRT badge on cars with torque converters and boring, mass-market seats and electronic stability control and nice (Dodge-nice anyway) interiors, and the feel totally changed.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Did it? With what?

        The Charger SRT-8? No.
        The Challenger SRT-8? No.
        The Caliber SRT-4? Nope, though probably the closest to resembling your remark. Still though it is a hell of a performance car for the money if you've ever driven it.
        The Viper? No.
        The Neon SRT-4? No.
        The Grand Cherokee SRT-8? No.

        I am running outta options here, so please, enlighten me as to what diluted the SRT brand?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Red Monkey, did you even read my post?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looks more butch than the standard Journey.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It would look outdated if they released it 1995... What a hideous box.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why? What is the point? Dodge is such an irrelevant brand anymore. They really need to decide on a true direction of the company. It either needs to be oriented towards awesome performance brand or mass marketing brand. This vehicle seems like it is trying to do both. No one in their right mind would pay for this over any of its competitors.
        • 5 Years Ago

        Corporations which don't deserve to succeed shouldn't. That doesn't just go for auto companies. That goes to banks and other entities as well. Do people become unemployed as a result? Of course, and that really is a shame, but you know what, in a free market economy, those workers with that specific skill set can get a job at another manufacturing plant for a company that actually gets it.

        That said, I actually was in favor the auto industry loan from the government. I feared what you just told me i should fear. However, they've been given their second (actually 3rd for Chrysler) chance. If they fail now, I'm not gonna be all that sad to see them go. Its not that i have a built in prejudice against dodge or chrysler vehicles. I just like (and will buy cars from) companies that have great quality and great performing cars. Right now, the Chrysler corporation doesn't really have that (and lets be honest, with the exception of a couple stand alone models, Chrysler has never been that kind of company since at least the 1960s).

        On the flip side, I'm really rooting for Ford. The fact that they didn't decide to get a bailout from the government and are now on top of practically every car survey/competition speaks loads to me. I will always buy American, and if the other of the Big 3 can't step it up soon, it will always be Fords.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Buddy, It's moronic, and small minded thinking like yours that makes me fear the future. Your statement:

        "I really couldn't care less if the Chrysler Corporation goes under. They weren't worth saving in the first place, just as Pontiac and Saturn weren't really worth saving (I say that as a very proud owner of an 02 Trans Am WS-6). They really don't make vehicles that people truly want anymore."

        You'd better care. If Chrysler goes under it's not just a name that goes by the wayside it will also include the thousands and thousands of people that are employed by the company as well.

        Make cars the public truly wants??? Uh... The Ram, the minivans, Charger, Challenger...
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't disagree that Dodge has always made bread and butter cars for bread and butter price. However, it obviously hasn't been working when it comes to selling cars and making money. I'm not saying that they can't have a couple of performance models, but a performance version of the Dodge Journey?

        I really couldn't care less if the Chrysler Corporation goes under. They weren't worth saving in the first place, just as Pontiac and Saturn weren't really worth saving (I say that as a very proud owner of an 02 Trans Am WS-6). They really don't make vehicles that people truly want anymore.

        Yes, it can definitely be argued Dodge has a couple of models that really bring people to showrooms, but they are niche models. The Viper is going out the door next year. The Challenger is beautiful, but it's a one generation car. The Charger got old really quickly... and yeah, all of their other cars blow (not including "Ram" brand).

        The rest of Dodge's lineup: boring and horrible quality cars such as the Caliber and the Avenger.

        Chrysler? Exact same as dodge but without the performance to at least somewhat counterbalance the blandness (with the exception of the 300C-which is extremely long in the tooth).
        • 5 Years Ago
        "It either needs to be oriented towards awesome performance brand or mass marketing brand."

        Says the person with a Chevy Camaro for his icon...Why doesn't Chevy pick one single direction, too? Ditch the SS stuff and all the performance Corvettes and focus on the Cruze, Impala, and Malibu.
        • 5 Years Ago

        Actually if you look closely its a Pontiac Trans Am... talk about an irrelevant brand...
        • 5 Years Ago
        I disagree. I'm not necessarily a Dodge fan, but Dodge has always stood for bread and butter cars and bread and butter performance, so this makes sense.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I always hated the taillights on this car makes the car look cheap even tho the rest of the cars looks better..which is the case with most of the cars in the big 3...
      • 5 Years Ago
      LOL @ Autoblog putting a watermark on these images.

      Hint: There's another popular blog that had these pictures earlier today and they don't have a silly watermark on them.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What's even worse is that there's an Aztek parked in the next row. Gah!
      • 5 Years Ago

      WTF. You'd think people posting about cars on autoblog would actually ... you know... KNOW CARS. How's the new CAMERO?

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