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December 3, 2008 > Auto Review: Dodge Journey

Auto Review: Dodge Journey

Our test car for this week was a brand new, bright red, Dodge Journey. The Journey was designed from the ground up and introduced by Dodge in mid-2008 as a 2009 model. It is a "crossover" model that combines many features from a larger sport utility vehicle and the efficiency of a passenger car. Our SXT model was equipped with the optional third row seating arrangement.

I know there is a lot of hype over many of the terms that the automotive industry uses today. For example, I haven't really seen a good, consistent definition of "crossover." Driving the Journey reminded me most of an old automotive term, station wagon. The Journey reminded me of driving the many station wagons we have had in the past. And that is NOT a bad memory. Station wagons (and the Journey) can do a lot of things very well. They can carry more than 4 or 5 people and tow trailers (up to 8300 pounds). They can carry lumber and building supplies occasionally, and they can be used for every day driving duties.

The base Journey model (the SE) comes with a 2.4-liter, 4 cylinder engine that develops 173 HP and 166 foot pounds of torque to drive a 4-speed automatic transmission. The MSRP for the SE is only $21,300 and I think this is a great value. The 4-cylinder delivered 19 mpg in its city test and 25 mph in the highway test.

A 235 HP, 3.5-liter V-6 is standard in the SXT and R/T and uses a 6-speed automatic transmission to drive the front wheels. The EPA results for the V-6 were 16/23. You can opt for an all-wheel-drive system on the SXT or R/T and this lowers both EPA estimates by 1 mpg.

The SXT's base cost is $24,300. In addition to the larger engine, the SXT adds larger wheels/tires, SIRIUS radio, better seats, a "Flip 'n Stow" storage compartment in the front passenger seat, a rechargeable LED flashlight stowed in the rear, an overhead mirror that allows you to see the rear interior of the Journey, a trip computer, and a long list of other items. At $27,960 the R/T adds a leather interior, yet larger wheels/tires, and a few more things.

All Journey models feature lots of storage compartments. One is the beverage cooler built into the dashboard. You can put 2 soda cans in it and then direct a portion of the cool air from air conditioning system into this cooler to keep your drinks cold. If you need to cool more drinks the Dodge engineers have just the thing for you. Behind the front seats, Dodge builds 2 storage compartments into the floor. They have waterproof liners that you can fill with a dozen sodas & ice and it won't spill.

One of my only complaints was the size of the A-pillar (between the driver's side window and the windshield). It is very thick and is hard to see around when making left turns. The other issue is that it is hard for large adults to get into the third row of seats.

Other than those small items, we really liked our time with the Journey. It was easy to drive, handled well and had enough room for everything we needed to carry. Call it a station wagon, crossover, or SUV; it will fulfill the needs of many families.

By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists
RRYAN@FRK.COM

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