Dodge's boxy new look arrived in 1949. Apart from the chrome, U.S. cars were not too different in profile from European cars at this time, but this was soon to change. All-new Dodge models arrived early in 1949, after remaining 1948 models had been sold off as the first-series 1949 Dodge. Powertrains and other engineering features were much the same as in the past three years, with the engine compression ratio increasing slightly, and Fluid Drive becoming standard equipment on all models.
The rest of the car was new, however. Following the corporate design philosophy, the new Dodge was very upright and boxy in appearance. Outside, the front fender tops were styled into the bodylines, fading into the front door, and the hood was now slightly flatter and becoming closer to fender height. Rear fenders were more flush with the otherwise flat body sheetmetal, although still visible as a separate piece. The grille of the new car continued to be of a grid design with three prominent horizontal bars top, center and bottom. The upper bar dipped slightly at each end and continued under the headlights. The middle bar was shorter and had a round parking light just off of each end. The bottom bar ran the full width of the car. Atop the hood was a redesigned ornament, and the Dodge name was in block letters just above the top grille bar. Between the two was the Dodge crest. Bodyside stainless trim continued to be two separate pieces, one on the front fender and one on the rear fender, each horizontally placed just above the wheel openings.
Interiors received a lot of attention also, as passenger comfort became a more prominent selling point. "Kneelevel" seats were touted as far more comfortable, chair height seating for all passengers, an approach that was contrary to the increasingly popular "Step-down" Hudson-type designs, in which seating was lowered in pursuit of lower overall car height. Other benefits of the Dodge design included better road visibility, and floors that were flush with the doorsills. Smaller pillars and larger glass areas also greatly improved visibility in all directions. Of course, this left Dodge with a less than glamorous "boxy" design in comparison with the sleek and stylish look of other new postwar cars.
Instrument panels, lower seat frames and doors all received a lot of luxurious looking wood-colored metal trim with chrome accents. Gauges were set into three square openings, which were oddly offset to the left of the steering column. The right-most gauge (fuel and oil pressure) was centered over the steering column, and the speedometer was to the left of that, with the ammeter and temperature gauges farthest to the left. With the new designs came new series designations. Initially, model offerings included the Meadowbrook and Coronet, direct replacements for the old DeLuxe and Custom lines. The Meadowbrook was the low-priced line, consisting of a lone 4-Door Sedan model. The Coronet was the main Dodge product and would become a best selling line for Dodge for many years. Coronet models included 2-and 4-Door Sedans, a Coupe, Convertible and an all-new wood-bodied Station Wagon, a first for Dodge. At mid-season, Chrysler president K.T. Keller formally announced the introduction of the lower-priced, and smaller, Wayfarer line. The new Wayfarer shared many basic components with the equally new Plymouth P-17 DeLuxe line. The Wayfarer line included a 3-passenger Coupe, a 2-Door Sedan, and Dodge's first 3-passenger Roadster since 1938.