The Dodge Journey is a mid-size, seven-passenger crossover that's well worth considering for buyers seeking a family-friendly ride with a versatile interior and an affordable price. Just make sure to skip over the lackluster base four-cylinder in favor of the smooth and powerful Pentastar V6 option.
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 improved 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 short....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. 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 - far worse than other competing models.
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, Crossroad, Limited and R/T trim levels.
The American Value Package includes the four-cylinder motor and dual-zone automatic climate control, power windows and locks, keyless entry, cruise control, 17-inch steel wheel with plastic 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. It offers the option of the Pentastar V6.
The Crossroad trim gives the Journey a tougher look thanks to new front and rear fascias, Platinum Chrome side sills and unique 19-inch Hyper Black wheels. Inside the Journey Crossroad gets standard leather seats, Liquid Graphite accents and an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The Crossroad comes standard with the 2.4-liter four and front-wheel drive, but buyers can order the more powerful V6 and all-wheel drive.
Building upon the SXT trim, the Limited adds the powerful V6, 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.
The Journey SXT models can be spec'd with an optional Blacktop package. 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.
Other highlights from the options list include a sunroof, a navigation system, a rearview camera, a premium audio system and a rear seat video player.
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 Traverse are all rivals to the Journey.