- Comfortable, well-configured interior
- Distinctive exterior
- Advanced entertainment systems
- Good ride quality
- Strong V-6
- Dash limits knee room
- Six-speed automatic shift quality
- Basic navigation system
The 2015 Dodge Journey is at once an alternative to minivans and large crossovers, with intelligent packaging and good value.
The Dodge Journey neatly splits the difference between a wagon and a more upright crossover or SUV. Though it flies mostly under the radar, the Journey has been steadily improving over the years and is now a competent crossover, offering seating for up to seven passengers.
With smart packaging and a far nicer interior, plus better roadholding and handling than the original, today's Journey is more flexible than five-seat competitors and includes a lot of features for the price. While it sells in roughly the price range of compact crossovers, it's dimensionally larger--meaning you get more car for the money. Larger families may find it suits their needs without the thirst for fuel and sheer on-the-road bulk of larger seven-seat mid-size crossovers like the Toyota Highlander or the much longer Nissan Pathfinder.
We appreciate that Dodge has shaken off the same-as-the-other-guy sheetmetal that clothes other crossovers, giving the Journey lines that are refreshingly different, even if they're no longer necessarily fresh. The look isn't totally out there, but different enough to avoid that same-old-family-vehicle styling rut. Inside, the Journey follows a smooth, swoopy look and simple layout, with large dials and knobs and an LCD touchscreen framed by high-quality materials.
The Journey's base engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder good for 177 hp. It is mated exclusively to an aging four-speed automatic and front-wheel drive. Although rated for slightly better gas mileage, this engine feels strained most of the time. The step-up engine is a 3.6-liter V-6 that makes 283 hp; power is routed through a six-speed automatic to either the front or all four wheels. The V-6 is much more modern, quieter, and has plenty of power to move the Journey around.
The Journey's handling is reasonably responsive. Chrysler recently reworked the suspension to include stiffer, better-responding shocks and a lower ride height in front, and it's honed some of the duller responses the Journey had in its initial model years. The ride quality remains a strong point, with the proper damping and roll control for a family vehicle, but the rather quick steering ratio feels a little out of place.
Dodge and Chrysler clearly applied some of its long-honed expertise with minivans to the Journey's interior, as people and cargo really fit well and there are plenty of smaller spaces for personal items, toys, and accessories. Front seats are what we’d best describe as ‘American-sized’—think wider than most. Back-seat accommodations are among the best you’ll find in any vehicle this size, and the seats are contoured to fit adults; the seatback is adjustable for rake, and the whole bench slides fore and aft a few inches, so it’s easy to get comfortable back there. The rear seat folds fully flat, and under the rearward portion of the cargo floor there’s a huge space vast enough for a couple of laptop bags.
The Journey is offered in an extensive lineup, with AVP (American Value Package), SE, SXT, Crossroad, Limited, and R/T models. You'll need to step up to SE models to get the V-6 engine or all-wheel drive. But even with the base model you get power windows, locks and mirrors; air conditioning; cruise control; pushbutton start; a cooled glove box; a telescoping steering wheel; and an AM/FM/CD player. Bluetooth isn't included on the base model, but it is a $395 option. Seven-passenger seating is available even on the base model, while you'll need to get the SXT to get the UConnect media center option. That includes an 8.4-inch touch-screen that at the top of the lineup can combine with a Garmin navigation system. Sirius Satellite Radio and TravelLink features are available, along with a premium audio system.
Changes for 2015 are few. Models equipped with the 8.4-inch touch-screen display include five years of free Sirius XM Traffic and TravelLink. Formerly optional 17-inch aluminum wheels are now standard on Journey SE AWD models, previously a $595 option. And there are some new paint options: Billet Silver Metallic and Blue Streak Pearl.