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2012 Dodge Journey SXT: Driven Page 2

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2012 Dodge Journey SXT - Driven, July 2012

While the Journey wasn't the NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) disaster that the Dodge Avenger had been a few years ago, it was in need of a little more refinement, and while we can’t speak to the four-cylinder models, it’s now one of the better picks in the class—better isolated from road harshness and driveline vibration.

The only thing we were left wanting from this powertrain was better shift quality from the six-speed automatic under lighter acceleration. It delivered snappy downshifts when we asked for quick bursts, but at gradual rates the upshift quality felt lumpy and downshifts didn't seem as decisive as they could be. And when braking lightly up to a stoplight, we'd frequently feel torque-converter shudder in the 20-mph range.

Steering, suspension gets it right

Tight freeway ramps and a few curvy roads brought some pleasant surprises. The Journey's suspension loads and unloads confidently, like a lower and leaner vehicle than it is, and there's none of the excessive bounding or wallowing when you hit a bump mid-corner with some taller crossovers. And all the while, the steering system here is something to delight in; after driving so many revamped vehicles in this class with electric power steering systems that are either too twitchy and light or artificially heavy, the hydraulic system in the Journey gets it right, with nice weighting, a good sense of center, even a touch of surface communication. There's no appreciable torque steer, either.

We see no reason to steer away from the V-6 in the name of fuel economy, because what we saw in an extended drive was impressive, with results that meet or beat the Journey's 17-mpg city, 25 highway EPA ratings. Over about 700 miles of driving—across Michigan, and including a mix of freeway driving, family-hauling, and suburban side trips—we averaged 24 mpg. That's not far from what we've seen in four-cylinder crossovers this size, and those models' powertrains aren't as satisfying as this V-6.

The 2012 Dodge Journey SXT starts at just $22,995, but the bottom-line price of our mostly loaded test Journey SXT—$28,905—felt a few thousand less than we might have guessed for an almost-mid-size crossover with refined V-6 power and a long list of features. Among the options in ours were the $995 Popular Equipment Group (upgraded seats, security alarm, LED lamps, in-seat storage, remote start), and the Safe and Sound Group (ParkSense, a backup camera, UConnect Touch, a larger screen, and dual-zone climate control).

UConnect Touch: limited, but user-friendly

As in other recent Chrysler products, we found UConnect Touch to do everything entertainment-related that we’d hoped for (it smartly and quickly indexed 16 GB of music on an SD card and made it easy to scroll through with the rotary tuning knob), plus it never had a hiccup with hands-free dialing or accessing other media on my iPhone. The only obvious question from several passengers pertained to why it didn’t include navigation; a Chrysler official said that it’s available as a dealer-installed upgrade even if you don’t initially order it.

In all, if you need third-row seating in a relatively small package, there might be a few mainstream crossover models on the market that make just as much sense as the Journey. But this Dodge feels like a vehicle we’d choose to get, not one we’d have to get. And that’s saying a lot.


 
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Comments (5)
  1. Sometimes a rental car can be an eye opener. I got a Journey a couple of years ago and was so surprised at how much there was to like about the crossover. Yes the dash and some interior features were lacking, but the overall package was just well executed. Why aren't these things selling like crazy, Iasked myself, is it the interior alone? The answer is yes and no and I believe the author hit on the answer...bad timing. Dodge and Chrysler as a whole was in a place of reaping the impact of somebad decisions, public doubt and product compromises which obscured basically a very good product. Too bad because the Journey and the Chrysler200/Dodge Avenger cousins are alot better than what we got out of the box and the damage was done.
     
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  2. I would like to see electric sliding rear doors in the Dodge Journey, like the mini vans.
     
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  3. Hi Hector,
    The interesting thing is that when Chrysler introduced the Journey, it effectively replaced their short-wheelbase Dodge Caravan. Many shoppers seem puzzled about why minivans have grown so large, and that there's a lack of vehicles that park more easily yet have sliding side doors. A number of people within the industry insist that there isn't any demand for this (the Mazda5 is one of the only vehicles like this), and that people prefer the larger hinged rear doors, but I don't agree.
     
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  4. Bought a 2012 in March2012, and went on three back-to back trips. I'm getting 26.7 on the road, 19 in town - Fantastic! Only drawback is the shifting problem mentioned in the article - it's really touch in roller-coaster terrain. I use the shift thing ( forgot what it is calle d- but it's like going into a standard transmission and controlling the shifting) in the shills and it performs great! My (adult)kids were skeptical about this car, but after they drove it a bit they want one, too.
     
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  5. sorry about the typos - too much of a hurry. 'tough' in roller coaster terrain, and 'hills', not 'shills!'
     
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