Auto Review: Take a Journey with Dodge

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Mar. 29, 2012
- Contributed Photo

It’s a challenge, but most manufacturers are more than eager to tackle it: build the perfect all-around family vehicle. We’ve seen the concept of what, to be honest, used to be just a station wagon change rapidly the last few decades; taken over by such recent popular designs like minivans and SUVs. Naturally, the lessons learned about what works and what doesn’t for the needs of the modern family (as well as what sells best, of course) has resulted in some very interesting vehicles.

What we’re seeing now is a particular type of wagon that combines the best attributes of both minivans and SUVs, and this often proves to be an excellent choice for folks seeking room, versatility and all-weather capability in a platform with reasonable gas mileage. The Dodge Journey fits into this category, for it is essentially a midsized SUV that has the kind of storage solutions many associate with a minivan. It does this with fairly compact exterior dimensions, making it easy to fit in even crowded garages.

The Journey offers a lot of flexibility in terms of model availability, starting with a 2.4-liter Inline Four engine with 173 horsepower and Front-Wheel Drive, or a 3.5-liter Pentastar V-Six with 283 horsepower and either Front- or All-Wheel Drive. Transmissions include a 4-speed Automatic with the Four, or a 6-Speed Automatic with the V6 (one gear per cylinder is one way to remember this). We tested a Journey SXT Front-Drive version, which came equipped with the V6/6-Speed combo. This drivetrain proved responsive, and delivered good fuel economy. The ride quality manages to be very compliant without too much softness, so control remains good during cornering, although the steering feel is a bit on the light side. Braking response is very good and easy to modulate.

The versatility continues in the seating options, for you can get a Journey with either two-row, five-passenger accommodations or three-row, seven-passenger seating. We had the former, and this boasts a cargo capacity with the seats deployed to 39.41 cubic feet that increases to 67 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. Cargo bins are everywhere, including in-floor units in front of the rear seats and incorporated into the front passenger seat. Speaking of seating, the front buckets are excellent with great support and good for long trips, something that this vehicle is ideally suited to tackle. The second-row seating is not as supportive but reasonably comfortable, and access is easy with doors that open nearly 90 degrees. The driver’s controls are fairly logical but the radio interface (with a very small 4.3-inch touch screen) takes a bit of practice to master. Road and wind noise are very suppressed, making the cabin quiet at speed.

I mentioned taking long trips, and the Journey’s range is commendable. EPA mileage ratings are 17 MPG city/25 city and we saw 23 MPG during our week with the vehicle. Our 2012 Dodge Journey SXT had a base price of $24,495 and with options including a Customer Preferred Package, our final MSRP came to $26,785.


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