Our spy photographers were able to catch the first glimpses of Dodge JC49's interior today. The JC49's dashboard looks a little underwhelming, but the prototype might not be finished in its final production plastics. The three-pod gauge layout looks slightly retro. It also appears that there is a large space reserved for either storage or a navigation system above the center stack. Ergonomics seem questionable with the HVAC controls being placed above a very low sitting stereo.

Our sources tell us that the JC49 will be named the Dodge Crew and should make its debut at this January's Detroit Auto Show.

A new encounter with a group of Dodge JC49 prototypes has yielded a better look at the small crossover's undisguised tailgate, providing some welcome clues to the vehicle's overall design character.

Dodge appears to have recently shifted the development pace of its JC49 crossover into high gear. Within the last month spies have seen several large convoys of JC49 prototypes running the highways of Southeastern Michigan, and have since spotted them traveling the entire country. KGP Photography's latest run-in with JC49 testers occurred in Colorado, where spies caught a string of three JC49s testing with a Ford Edge and a Hyundai Santa Fe--along for the ride as support/benchmarking vehicles.


Members of Dodge's test team were surprised, and obviously a little angry when spies snapped some photos of them testing in some desolate Colorado prairie land.

After giving our photographer a not-so-friendly one-finger-salute, the group went on with the business of logging some major miles, driving all throughout Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California in the course of a few days.

Tail revealed

Spies watched as the group took a rest stop in the California desert, and dutifully covered the prototypes. Unfortunately for them, the covers were stored within the rear cargo hatch, which meant that the rear camouflage had to be unzipped and moved out of the way, giving us our first look at the JC49's rear-end styling, clean and uncamouflaged.

This new view of the JC49 adds to our impression that this new crossover will have some aggressive styling in the usual Dodge tradition. The body panels have a fairly meaty quality, with a sharply chiseled waistline leading back to bold, angular tail-lights. The rear glass kicks up at the edges as it reaches the D-pillar, accentuating the JC's shoulders and bolstering its stance.

Pricing is expected to start around $20,000, with a volume target of 150,000 yearly. A debut at Detroit's next North American International Auto Show seems most likely.

August 20, 2007