2010 Dodge Journey Expert Review:Autoblog
The 2009 Dodge Journey carries the size and shape of a typical crossover, and it has seating for seven and all the amenities you could possibly ask for at $30,000. On paper, the Journey has a plenty of things in its favor, yet we had our doubts.
First off, it looks a lot like the Dodge Caravan, which works against the Journey when considering that many crossover buyers want to avoid the minivan stigma. It's also based on the less than impressive Chrysler Sebring platform, which we have found to be just awful. Then there is Chrysler's corporate 3.5L engine, which is less powerful, refined and efficient than similarly sized engines from its competition. Chrysler's recent track record for vehicles that are less than class competitive also lent support to our notion that the Journey might be a letdown. Regardless, we tried to clear our minds of these things when the Journey arrived for a week-long stay in the Autoblog Garage. Hit the jump to see how Chrysler's new crossover fared.
All photos Copyright ©2008 Chris Shunk / Weblogs, Inc.
Our well equipped Journey R/T FWD finished in Inferno Red Crystal Pearl Coat Dodge came equipped with a sunroof, leather seating surfaces, a navigation system, second row DVD screen, and MyGig multimedia system among its many options. We basically got the "works" package, which tipped the price up considerably from the $26,785 base price of the Journey R/T to $32,375.
On the outside, the Journey has clean, straight lines and an athletic stance. The design also holds true to the main design themes of Chrysler's crosshair division. Our R/T model came equipped with large 19-inch chrome wheels that are shaded by the vehicle's bulging wheel arches. The minimalist corporate crosshair grille helps keep things simple up front, yet doesn't help the Journey make a memorable impression in the very crowded CUV segment. True story: on two occasions we walked right by the Journey while trying to find it in a parking lot. That doesn't happen when you're driving Nissan's new Murano, for instance.
Chrysler has struggled with interiors over the past several years, and the Auburn Hills-based automaker worked hard to get things right with the Journey. Materials are considerably better than they are in the Dodge Avenger, for example, with soft-touch surfaces on the dash and a more comfortable center console. Unfortunately, the improvements over other Chrysler interiors just aren't enough. For instance, while designers provided a flat surface for the driver's left arm to rest on the window sill, it's made of hard plastic and made our arm sore. The arm right below that's built into the door has a little give to it, but it's too low for a short arm to reach. The Journey's seats are also stiff and lacking in proper thigh support for long drives.
One thing Chrysler excels at is adding nifty features that make life easier for both the driver and passengers, and the Journey excels in this area. There is a storage area under the front passenger seat, a place above the glove box to keep your beverage cool, and gaming ports for the LCD screen. Oour personal favorite is the integrated child safety seats, which can be accessed by simply pulling a cord. As the father of two five year-olds, it's nice not switching car seats between my wife's car and mine. The integrated safety seats also mean I don't have to haul around two thoroughly stained pink booster seats that just get in the way when the kids aren't in the car.
We were left scratching our heads, however, with Dodge's decision to put seven seats in a space that can only comfortably fit five. The third row is so small that my 12-year-old and her friend had their knees up to their chests because there was no leg room. To make room for the ill-fitting third row, Chrysler also had to move the second row forward, which has far from class-leading leg room as it is.
While the crossover segment isn't where you'd expect to find a well-heeled, athletic chassis, the segment overall has improved greatly in this area over the past couple years. Given that the Journey is based on the floating, ponderous Sebring platform, we didn't have high hopes for it. Fortunately, our bias was easily stripped as the Journey was surprisingly capable on the open road. A trip to Chrysler's Chelsea proving grounds showed that the Journey could take hard cornering with relative ease and not a scary amount of body roll, and the Journey felt solid and in control on rough pavement.
Steering was another area where the Journey surprised us based on our exposure to the Sebring, as it provides good feedback of the road beneath your feet. While the Sebring's lifeless steering wheel is downright scary, the Journey's actually communicates the road to you and isn't so overly assisted that it feels like a wet noodle in your hand.
Chrysler's 3.5L V6 is the top shelf engine offered in the Journey, and while it provides adequate grunt to get you going, this ancient mill is still far from similar engine offerings by Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford and GM. With 235 horsepower and 232 lb-ft of torque, It's missing too much twisting force off the line and during highway passing situations. After driving other CUVs with 3.5L and larger V6 engines, the Journey gives the impression that there's an even smaller engine under hood. The six speed-automatic transmission, however, felt smoother than one we tried in the Sebring, which felt choppy and ill-calibrated. We would have liked the slush box to hold its gears a little longer during spirited driving, but Chrysler did provide a manual shifting mode. The Journey averaged a ho-hum 20.6 mpg during our time behind the wheel, which is almost exactly what we got in the much larger and more powerful Ford Flex.
While our one week with the Dodge Journey R/T was anything but exciting, Chrysler's newest crossover did perform beyond our expectations. Unfortunately, our expectations for the Journey were low, and this segment is filled with machines that virtues more appealing than the Journey. Chrysler has done a great job differentiating the Journey from its competition with neat features like storage bins and integrated child seats, but the issues we have with it are much more fundamental. While not quite good enough to stack up against the best vehicles in its class, the Dodge Journey R/T should find a few buyers who are enamored by its tricks.
All photos Copyright ©2008 Chris Shunk / Weblogs, Inc.
New Car Test Drive
Crossover SUV capability, minivan versatility.
The Dodge Journey is a family-friendly type of vehicle that we found to be very user-friendly. A midsize crossover sport-utility, the Journey offers the cargo and passenger space of an SUV but with the smoother ride and better fuel economy of a car. The keys to this balance is its carlike unitbody structure, which is lighter than a truck chassis, fitted with front-wheel drive and a carlike suspension.
Most models come with a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 235 horsepower. The V6 offers plenty of power for driving around town, a 3500-pound towing capacity, and decent passing punch. The base model comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine of 173 horsepower. We feel the base four-cylinder engine is rough and noisy and offers too little power for a vehicle of this size. The Journey is available with all-wheel drive for superior traction and confidence in bad weather.
Interior versatility is where the Journey shines. It comes standard with seating for five and a big cargo space, but the Journey is available with seating for seven. Filling the Journey with adults won't make all your passengers happy, but the rear seat should work well for children. Seats flip and fold to provide a wide range of versatility in hauling people, cargo, or both. The Journey offers a fold-flat front passenger seat that will allow loading items up to nine feet long. It features some unique storage solutions owners will find useful. Among them: a bin under the front passenger seat, storage under the floor in the second row and behind the last row of seats, a dual glove box with Dodge's Chill Zone that cools soda cans, and all the usual cubbies up front, including a fairly deep center console. Entertainment options are plentiful, as the Journey has a six-disc CD changer standard and offers a hard-drive radio and a rear DVD entertainment system.
For 2010, changes include improved fuel economy for the V6 engine, a fuel-saver lamp in the instrument cluster, driver and front-passenger active head restraints, a larger nine-inch video entertainment screen, and a new Dark Slate interior color. New as standard on all models are remote keyless entry and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. There have also been several changes to the options packages.
With prices starting around $20,000, the Journey offers affordable utility. We recommend the V6 engine, which provides that extra margin of power that many buyers will want. Be careful when it comes to options, though, as it is possible to get the Journey over $30,000, money that can buy larger and more refined SUVs.
The 2010 Dodge Journey is offered in three trim levels: SE, SXT and R/T. The SE is exclusively front-wheel drive (FWD), while the SXT and R/T models are offered with front drive or all-wheel drive (AWD). The SE model comes with a 173-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. The SXT and R/T models have a 3.5-liter V6 with 235 horsepower, fitted with a six-speed automatic transmission with Dodge's AutoStick manual shiftgate.
Journey SE ($20,490) comes with cloth upholstery; air conditioning; Chill Zone beverage storage bin; AM/FM six-disc CD/DVD/MP3-compatible radio with six speakers; power windows, power heated exterior mirrors; manual day/night rearview mirror; tilt/telescoping steering column; driver's seat height adjustment; second-row reclining 60/40 seat; and P225/70R16 all season tires on steel wheels. Options include an engine block heater ($40); the SE Family Value Group ($295) with manual driver's seat lumbar adjustment, two second-row child booster seats, and daytime-running lights; and a Popular Equipment Group ($1,570) with Sirius Satellite Radio, floor mats, a cargo compartment cover, an overhead console with conversation mirror, illuminated vanity mirrors, remote keyless entry, interior air filter, roof rack, security alarm, cruise control, and four passenger assist handles. The Safe and Sound Group ($695) has Dodge's MyGIG Multimedia Entertainment System and a rearview camera. The Exterior Appearance Group includes fog lamps and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Journey SXT ($23,790) and SXT AWD ($26,280) adds cruise control, leather-wrapped shift knob, remote keyless entry, fog lamps, Sirius Satellite Radio, power six-way adjustable driver seat, fold-flat front passenger seat with Flip 'n Stow in-seat storage, conversation mirror, portable LED flashlight, cargo net, floor mats, trip computer with temperature and compass display, 115-volt power outlet, auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic headlights, a touring suspension, dual exhaust, and P225/65R17 all-season touring tires on aluminum wheels. The SXT AWD also gets performance steering, performance suspension, and P225/55R19 tires on aluminum wheels.
Options start with the SXT Flexible Seating Group ($995), which includes a third-row 50/50 folding/reclining seat, second-row 60/40 Tilt 'n Slide rear seat, and three-zone temperature control (including the rear). Convenience Group I ($895) includes a cargo compartment cover on five-passenger vehicles, interior air filter, driver and front passenger lower LED lamps, front and rear aimable LED lamps, a roof rack, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, iPod control, UConnect phone, remote start, and a universal garage door opener. The Navigation and Sound Group I ($1,695) includes six premium speakers with subwoofer and 368-watt amplifier, UConnect Navigation, UConnect phone, iPod control, and a rearview camera. The Premium Convenience Group ($995) has dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and six premium speakers with subwoofer and 368-watt amplifier. Other options consist of a sunroof ($795) and a Trailer Tow Group ($130) with an engine oil cooler and four-pin connector wiring.
Journey R/T ($26,795) and R/T AWD ($28,545) upgrades to leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, front floor console with premium armrest, universal garage door opener, premium door trim panels, bright instrument panel bezels, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, front and rear LED lights, remote engine starting, plus performance steering and suspension, and P225/55R19 tires on aluminum wheels.
R/T options include chrome-clad aluminum wheels ($500), Convenience Group II ($625), which includes a cargo compartment cover on five-passenger vehicles, as well as a vehicle information center, interior air filter, driver and front passenger lower LED lamps, adjustable roof-rail crossbars, iPod control, and UConnect phone. Also offered is the Flexible Seating Group, which includes a third-row 50/50 folding/reclining seat, a second-row 60/40 Tilt 'n Slide seat, and three-zone automatic climate control (including the rear).
Safety features on all Journey models include advanced multistage front airbags; torso-protecting, seat-mounted front side air bags; head-protecting curtain side airbags that cover all seating rows; front-seat active head restraints; a tire-pressure monitor; traction control; electronic stability control with rollover mitigation; ABS with brake assist; and Dodge's trailer sway control.
On the outside, the Journey announces its presence with the familiar Dodge crosshair grille. The look might be described as bold. But the upright shape of the grille and its relation to the aluminum hood and windshield is very reminiscent of the current Dodge Grand Caravan, and no SUV ever earned sales by looking like a minivan.
Beneath the grille, the Journey has a larger air intake than the Grand Caravan. Actually, it runs the full width of the vehicle and is flanked on either side by integrated fog lights on the SXT and R/T models. Around the sides, the Journey features pronounced wheel arches and a creased character line that starts at the top of each headlight, angles upward, and wraps completely around the vehicle. The roofline flows nicely from the windshield, curving down slightly front to rear. The B- and C-pillars are blacked out to, as Dodge puts it, give the look of a car-like greenhouse and an SUV-like lower half.
At the back, the Journey's taillights wrap around the sides of the vehicle and continue into the tailgate, which opens upward. The taillights themselves feature two war paint chrome stripes and the tailgate is made out of a composite material to reduce weight. The rear bumper has an integrated step pad that matches the height of the load floor. Models with the V6 engine can be distinguished by their dual chrome exhaust tips.
The Journey is bigger than it looks. In overall dimension, it is only slightly shorter than the Ford Explorer, and it's actually longer than such seven-passenger crossover competitors as the Toyota Highlander, Subaru Tribeca and Hyundai Veracruz. The Journey's size translates to plenty of interior cargo room, but the design isn't as space efficient as some of its competitors, including the Pacifica.
The Journey's main strength is its well thought-out cabin. It offers plenty of room for passengers and cargo, available seating for seven, and several smart and convenient storage solutions.
The interior materials represent a step forward for Dodge. While there is still evidence of the cheap plastic of recent Dodge products, there are also more soft-touch materials that look and feel much better. The improvement is most evident in the R/T model, which has a black dash center section that looks good and feels better than the center stack in the SE and SXT models.
That center stack contains an easy-to-use climate control system with three knobs and eight buttons. The radio can be a little complicated, especially when ordered with the available MyGIG Infotainment System, which includes a navigation system and a hard drive to hold songs, pictures and map information. The radio and navigation controls are set low, with many buttons that will take some time to learn. The navigation/MyGIG screen is set at the top of the cluster, so occupants will have to move their eyes up and down to change settings and see their effects.
The driver's seat offers plenty of head and leg room for just about any occupant. The view is generally unobstructed front and rear. It is the unique storage and convenience features, however, that really make the Journey shine. Up front, models without the navigation system get a storage bin in the top of the center stack. All Journeys have a dual-level glove box with Dodge's Chill Zone up top. Chill Zone uses the air conditioning system to keep up to four soda cans cool.
The Journey's center console/armrest has a lid that slides forward three inches. It has enough storage space for up to 10 DVD cases. Two cupholders are located in front of the console, along with a tray for cell phones and the like. An additional, more discreet storage space is standard in SXT and R/T models. The front passenger seat bottom flips up to reveal a storage bin that has about enough room for a good-sized purse. The seat back also folds flat, allowing items up to nine feet long to be loaded into the Journey. And to help drivers keep an eye on the kids, there is a popular minivan feature, a fisheye conversation mirror.
The second row is equally as ingenious. The three-passenger bench seat is 1.6 inches higher than the front seat to give passengers a better view of the road. It slides forward and back up to 4.7 inches in seven-passenger models, and can be ordered with integrated child booster seats for the outboard positions. The Journey also has two in-floor storage bins with removable liners. Each bin can hold up to six soda cans plus ice. The seat backs are split 60/40 and fold flat. When the optional Flexible Seating Group is ordered, the second-row seats fold in a scissors action, with the seat bottoms tilting up, the seatbacks tilting forward, and the seats sliding forward, to provide easy access to the third row. The rear doors also open 90 degrees, making entry and exit easy.
The SE model comes with seating for five, but the SXT and R/T can be ordered with the Flexible Seating Group, which expands seating capacity to seven. The third row is 0.6 inches higher than the second row, is split 50/50, and folds flat. Dodge says it offers enough head room for a 95th-percentile male. That's all well and good, but leg room is tight and the bottom cushion is low to the floor, so adults sit with their knees up. It will be possible to fit seven adults in the Journey, but the third-row passengers and second-row middle occupant will be none too happy about it. Younger children will have plenty of room, though.
Both the five- and seven-passenger Journeys have a shallow under-floor storage bin that extends from the rear of the vehicle forward to just behind the last row of seats. That means the five-passenger version has considerably more space under the floor than the seven-passenger version. The cover for this bin is reversible, too, with carpet on one side and plastic on the other. The plastic will allow for worry-free stowage of items such as muddy boots.
With all the seats down, the Journey has 67.6 cubic feet of cargo storage space. Loading cargo shouldn't be tough, as the liftover height is relatively low. It would be nice, however, if the tailgate had a separate opening glass. As an added bonus, a removable, rechargeable flashlight is included in the rear cargo area.
The Journey offers plenty of entertainment features for all occupants. An AM/FM radio with in-dash six-disc CD changer and six speakers is standard. An available rear DVD entertainment system has a nine-inch screen and wireless headphones. Dodge's UConnect hands-free cell phone link is also offered, and it comes with an iPod interface.
The Dodge Journey is nondescript when it comes to road manners. The ride is generally good, with little of the pounding from bumps that comes with a stiff, sporty suspension. There is also little of the head sway that is associated with larger, truck-type SUVs. Even with the available 19-inch wheels, the Journey does a good job of ironing out most jolts. But there are plenty of midsize crossovers and SUVs with similar ride characteristics.
When it comes to handling, the Journey offers little to get excited about. While the high seating position affords a good view of the road, it seems to hurt the feel behind the wheel. This is not an off-road-oriented SUV, and as such it seems that Dodge could have made it sit a bit lower, which would have improved the handling characteristics. The way it's engineered however, means the Journey leans more in turns than some other crossovers and is also slower to react in quick changes of direction. The steering is light, but accurate. In short, the Journey doesn't offer the sporty driving character that can be a strength of crossover SUVs.
We found the brakes worked well and were easy to modulate. Antilock brakes with brake assist are standard, and Dodge should be commended for making traction control and electronic stability control standard equipment.
The engines are comparable to the handling: Capable but not as good as the best in the class. The base four-cylinder, Chrysler's 173-hp 2.4-liter World Engine, is loud in the Journey and delivers too little power in this 3800-pound package. The four-cylinder will certainly get you and your kids around town, but passing will require some planning and it's not rated for towing. With a 0-60 mph time of somewhere between 11 and 12 seconds, a four-cylinder Journey is one of the slower vehicles in its class.
The 3.5-liter V6, standard in SXT and R/T models, is much better, but it lacks the refinement and flexible power of the V6s offered by other manufacturers. With 235 horsepower, 0-60 mph comes in about 9.3 seconds, making it adequate but considerably slower than V6-powered SUVs and crossovers offered by the competition. Still, the V6 will help you keep up with traffic, pass confidently, and permit towing up to 3500 pounds.
The fuel economy numbers are decent. With the four-cylinder engine, the Journey is EPA-rated at 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. With the V6 and front-wheel drive, those numbers are 16/24 mpg, and with the V6 and AWD, they are 15/23 mpg. Dodge recommends midgrade fuel for the V6.
The all-wheel-drive system is meant for slippery surfaces, not off-roading. It does not have low-range gearing. It's a great aid in wintry conditions, rain or any slippery surface.
The Dodge Journey is an all-new entry in the midsize crossover SUV class. It isn't particularly sporty, and lacks the available power and refinement of some competitors. However, the Journey makes up for those deficiencies with intelligent cabin design and the availability of family-friendly entertainment and versatility features. For the young family on the go, the Journey will offer a pleasant ride, plenty of room, and enough storage and entertainment options to keep the kids occupied.
Kirk Bell filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report after his test drive of the Dodge Journey on the desert roads around Las Vegas.
Dodge Journey SE ($20,490); Dodge Journey SXT FWD ($23,790); Dodge Journey SXT AWD ($26,280); Dodge Journey R/T FWD ($26,795); Dodge Journey R/T AWD ($28,545).
Options As Tested
Flexible Seating Group ($995 as stand-alone option, but included with other packages) with third-row 50/50 folding/reclining seat, second-row 60/40 Tilt 'n Slide rear seat, and three-zone temperature control (including the rear); Premium Convenience Group ($995) with dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, 368-watt amplifier, and six premium speakers; Convenience Group I ($895) with adjustable roof-rail crossbars, air filtration, cargo cover, iPod control, remote start, auto-dimming mirror, universal garage-door opener, UConnect; sunroof ($795).
Dodge Journey SXT AWD.
*The data and content on this web site is subject to change without notice. Neither AOL nor any of its data or content providers shall be liable for errors in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.
More on the Journey
Whether you're a buyer or owner of the 2010 Dodge Journey we've got you covered.
FIND A GREAT USED CAR
Great Auto Loan Rates
Low Rates on New and Used AutosPowered By Apply In One Easy Step »