The Car Connection Dodge Journey Overview
The Dodge Journey is a family crossover that appeals to buyers thanks to its low price. Not much else on the mid-size SUV is appealing—it lags in safety, comfort, features, and fuel economy.
With the Journey, Dodge competes with models such as the Chevy Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4.
Among mid-size crossovers, the Journey is relatively aged. Technically a three-row crossover, the Journey is best when it seats five—wayback passengers need not bring their legs.
This year, the Dodge Journey is unchanged for what may be its final model year.
MORE: Read our 2018 Dodge Journey review
Introduced for the 2009 model year, the Journey brought a new five-door shape to a Dodge lineup that was in the process of shedding its larger but lower Dodge Magnum wagon. The styling evoked other Dodge vehicles in its aggressive front end while carrying more than a hint of the Jeep Grand Cherokee in its rear hatch. The interior proved to be more of a dated mess: the Journey's canted instruments and boxed gauges called up unhappy memories of the Dodge Omni hatchback of the 1980s.
Despite some miscues, the Journey came to market with a strong variety of configurations. It offered front- or all-wheel drive, with a choice of 4- or 6-cylinder engines—a competitive-sounding package that fell short on performance and lacked refinement. Carried over largely unchanged through the 2010 model year, the Journey had a 173-horsepower 4-cylinder, a flat performer, and a 235-hp V-6 that wasn't much more encouraging in low-speed driving, though it was much more capable of passing maneuvers with less noise and angst. Decent ride quality matched up with acceptably responsive steering for a moderately pleasant driving experience. Fuel economy hit 19 mpg city, 25 highway on 4-cylinder models, and the V-6 front-drive Journey wasn't far behind at 16/24 mpg. The V-6 with AWD dropped to 15/23 mpg, according to the EPA.
Chrysler retuned the Journey's chassis for the 2011 model year. It also replaced the aging 3.5-liter V-6 with the then-new Pentastar 3.6-liter, making a respectable 283 hp and mated to an equally new 6-speed automatic. The interior was also redone, with a cleaner and more modern design. The sheet metal was untouched, although the grille and headlights did receive some freshening.
Functionally it was carried over and remains a flexible compact crossover to this day. The Journey can seat up to seven passengers, but adults will fit best in the front two rows. The optional third-row bench is for two children, max. Elsewhere, the Journey does a minivan-like job at storing stuff. The second row slides for more legroom, and the front passenger seat has storage built in beneath the seat cushion--there are also lots of bins and cubbies under the seats and between passengers, as well as in its door panels and under the floor of the second row. The second-row floor bins can double as coolers, as well.
The Journey scores well in safety testing, at least initially. The IIHS formerly gave it Top Safety Pick status, although it has not run the Journey through its new small overlap test to be able to keep that award, while federal testers have given it a rating of four out of five stars overall—scores that are much less competitive now than when the Journey was new. Standard safety items are plentiful, including four-wheel ABS disc brakes, active head restraints, stability and traction control, and a full load of airbags. The Journey also offers common add-ons like a rearview camera, as well as some rarer features, such as integrated second-row child seats.
Chrysler's UConnect multimedia controller is available, as is Bluetooth, while a USB port is standard. For 2013, 17-inch wheels were made standard even on the base AVP and SE models. The Journey used to offer in-car satellite TV, but those systems faded away when few buyers opted for them and the service was discontinued.
Late in the 2012 model year we drove the updated Dodge Journey SXT and found it to be well-packaged, well-performing, and improved to the point of being a very strong contender even against the likes of the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.
Chrysler dropped prices significantly on the base 2012 Journey SE; and confusingly, from 2011 to 2012, and again from 2012 to 2013, Chrysler changed its trim levels for the Journey as well as other models.
For 2014, Dodge introduced a Crossroad trim level for the Journey. Its name and design are supposed to evoke more of an Audi Allroad-like crossover wagon theme, but mechanically it is the same as the other trim levels. The Crossroad gets dark trim up front, with darkened headlight units, front and rear fascias that mimic the look of skidplates, and its own 19-inch wheel design, as well as unique upholstery with leather trim and mesh cloth seat inserts. Few changes were made to the Journey for the 2015 and 2016 model years. A Journey GT topped the model range for 2017.