Last year's revamp of the Dodge Journey crossover didn't alter many of its sheetmetal details, and saved most of the hard work for the interior. That's exactly how it should have been, and for the 2012 model year, the Journey's left its crisp good looks alone.
The Journey's still a station wagon at heart, but the few overt sport-ute cues it wears come off very well. The smartly embossed fenders, straightforward crosshair grille, and square-shouldered stance give it a faintly athletic look--probably as much to do with its compact size as anything else. From a brand not known for balanced styling--Viper, Challenger--the Journey's ratio of glass to metal, metallic trim to paint, all seems to be worked out to an ideal.
A bit of butch detailing gives real Dodge character to the Journey crossover, without going overboard on the attitude.
Chrysler wisely junked the Journey's interior for the 2011 model year. The old dash truly belonged on a junk heap--it was filled with oddly tilted, squared-off gauges and slick, brittle plastic that evoked the worst memories of the old Omni hatchbacks. Now, open the Journey's door, and a bolt of metallic trim directs you quickly across a more softly sculpted dash, with suave finishes and tight fits. The contoured center stack gets mixed in with round cut-tube gauges and a blocky steering wheel, and it all hangs together, along with a big LCD screen (on some versions) and no-fuss climate controls that ride sidesaddle on that strip of bright trim. The new interior still makes lots of contact with front-passenger knees, but it's knocked out the cheap feeling entirely.