The Dodge Journey is a mid-size, seven-passenger crossover that recently benefitted from a comprehensive update. It's now well worth considering for buyers looking for family-friendly ride with a refined interior and powerful (optional) V6 at an affordable price.
Though you wouldn't know it from the exterior, which only received minor detail changes, the latest Journey is a far cry from the lackluster original model. As part of Chrysler's post-bankruptcy product overhaul, it received major interior, powertrain and suspension revisions that make it a fully competitive model.
In place of the old Rubbermaid interior is a thoroughly reworked cabin highlighted by a rich-looking soft-touch touch dashboard and Dodge's three-spoke corporate steering wheel. The Journey seats five occupants comfortably, while the third row is useful for carrying children and small adults on shortÂ….erm, journeys. A useful 39.6 cubic feet of cargo space is available behind the rear seats.
The Journey now offers Chrysler's Uconnect Access infotainment system (for a complete description of Uconnect Access, check out Leftlane's Spotlight On: Uconnect in-depth article). Generally regarded as one of the more user-friendly infotainment setups on the market, Uconnect Access integrates most of the crossover's audio, navigation and climate control functions into one unit. An 8.4-inch touchscreen mounted on the dashboard is the central component of the system, but redundant buttons and knobs for climate and audio volume and tuning are also included.
Uconnect Access features a voice command system that allows the driver to place phone calls, use the sound system, input navigation destinations and more without taking his or her hands off the wheel. Other notable aspects of the system include the ability to function as a Wi-Fi hotspot over a 3G network - for an additional monthly fee - and downloadable applications such as Bing search.
Under the Sheetmetal
Also part of the recent update were a number of chassis enhancements that equate to quicker transient responses and a more controlled ride.
The Journey's base engine continues to be a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 173 horsepower and 166 lb-ft of torque and pairs with an ancient four-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is rated at 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
Most buyers will want to skip the anemic four and opt for the strong 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, which serves up 283-horsepower and 260 lb-ft. Mated to a six-speed automatic, the Pentastar returns almost the same mileage as the smaller mill - 17/25 mpg - in front-wheel-drive form, while an optional all-wheel-drive system lowers efficiency to 16/24 mpg.
The Journey is available in American Value Package, SE, SXT, Crew and R/T trim levels.
The American Value Package includes dual-zone automatic climate control, power windows and locks, keyless entry, cruise control, 17-inch steel wheel with hubcaps, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo system with AUX and USB inputs, a 4.3-inch touchscreen media interface and the four-cylinder engine.
The SE adds LED taillights, tinted glass and roof rails.
The SXT brings 17-inch aluminum wheels, foglamps, SiriusXM Radio, "performance" front and rear fascias, body-color exterior mirrors, front and rear floor mats, cargo compartment cover and cargo net.
To those features, the Crew adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, an 8.4-inch touchscreen Uconnect media center, remote start, 19-inch aluminum wheels and more.
The R/T trim includes a performance suspension, a 368-watt premium stereo, 19-inch satin carbon painted wheels, red interior accent stitching and unique exterior trim.
Newly optional is the Blacktop package, which adds a dash of style to SXT models. It dresses up the exterior with 19-inch gloss black aluminum wheels and center caps, a gloss black grille, gloss black bezel headlamps, gloss glack lower front fascia accent and exterior mirrors painted - you guessed it - gloss black. The package also includes an 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen for the interior.
All Journey models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and brake assist.
The Toyota Venza, Ford Explorer and Chevrolet are all rivals to the Journey.