When the e-mail came informing me a Dodge Journey would be dropped off for The Garage to review, my first thought was “Oh, I had forgotten about those.” A quick search from The Garage archives show we last looked at a Journey in 2012. Ok, so its been four years, what’s new with the Journey since we last looked at it? To my amazement, I found the answer is, well, basically nothing. Given that the crossover is the preferred mode of transportation for the modern family, it is practically unbelievable how little attention Dodge is paying to the Journey.
Introduced in 2009, the Journey is a dinosaur amidst the competition, which are practically falling over each other to stay on top. Even when new, the Journey was light years behind everyone else. Salvation came in 2011 when Dodge addressed the Journey’s most egregious sin-its unforgivably awful interior and several other improvements. Even so, it staggers the imagination that after that revision, Dodge pretty much walked away.
Even with the 2011 revision, Dodge decided to leave the exterior alone, save for a few mild updates. At least the Journey was a decent, if unremarkable looking family hauler, but the design is definitely showing its age. In 2012, The Garage complained our dark grey test car all but vanished in crowded parking lots. This time around, our Crossroad model finished in Redline Pearl with 19″ wheels, gloss black grill, platinum chrome trim and dual exhaust gives the Journey a shot of some badly needed visual character.
The strong suit of the Journey continues to be its interior. Following its 2011 reboot, this is a cabin that really needs no improvement. Roomy, comfortable with easy to use controls complemented with quality materials, the Journey is a pleasant place for long trips. Another plus is a plethora of storage and cubbies, as well as three row seating-features that are important to crossover buyers serve to the Journey’s advantage. Finally, our car’s 8.4″ touchscreen is one of the fastest, and most intuitive interfaces on the market.
Buyers have a choice of two engines, a 2.4L four rated at 173hp paired with a four-speed automatic (they still makes those?) and an optional 3.6L V-6 rated at 283hp mated to a 6-speed automatic. It goes without saying, the V-6 is the engine you want. All Journeys are front wheel drive, with all-wheel drive available with the V-6 only. Acceleration with the V-6 is commendable, and the Journey is a quiet highway cruiser. For a three row crossover, the Journey is a cinch to navigate around town. Gas mileage on our V-6 all-wheel drive test car, however, is unimpressive with an EPA rating of 16/24 MPG. A heavy right foot will certainly get you on a first name basis with the local gas attendant.
Although clearly designed with the North American buyer in mind, the Journey is sold globally. Most interesting, in Europe it is sold as the Fiat Freemont, which offer a choice of diesel engines not available here.
True to form, Dodge offers the Journey in a dizzying array of different trim levels. Our test car was the Crossroad Plus. If your budget allows, you’ll definitely want to skip over the plain vanilla looks of lesser models. Notable standard features include SiriusXM Radio, three-zone auto climate control, illuminated cup holders, and auto dimming rear view mirror. leather seats with cloth mesh inserts, 8.4″ touchscreen, power seats, and LED interior lighting. Options on our car included the Popular Equipment Group (alarm, heated steering wheel, heated seats, remote start), navigation, back up camera, ParkSense rear park assist, and second row seat with integrated child boosters. Including destination, our well-equipped Journey retails for $34,660USD.
So, where does that leave us? The Journey’s biggest Achilles heel is without doubt its age, followed by mediocre fuel economy. Still, the Journey does all that is asked of it, and does it well. Families seeking a roomy, comfortable and versatile crossover will be well served. The availability of a third row seat is an added plus, and if you can restrain yourself with the options, the Journey represents a good value. Still, with parent company Fiat announcing it will be dropping the compact Dart to focus instead on crossovers, its clear Dodge is finally preparing to a follow up act.