Used Car Report: Should You Buy a Used Dodge Journey?

Used Car Report: Should You Buy a Used Dodge Journey?

Launched for 2009 as the crossover from the automaker who invented the minivan, the Dodge Journey went on to quickly become a bestseller with value-minded crossover shoppers.

Thanks in no small part to aggressive pricing, stand-out styling and generous levels of selection via option packages, powertrains and trim grades, it was easy to devise the perfect Dodge Journey for any need or taste.

Journey rides on a D-segment platform that housed other models like the Avenger and 200 and it offers a surprisingly car-like ride, despite its available seven-passenger seating. Flexibility, a multitude of storage options, and the famous Chill-Zone cooler compartment helped add appeal and set the Journey apart. Additionally, look for features like a sunroof, navigation, Bluetooth, heated leather, premium audio systems, and plenty more.

There’s four- or six-cylinder power and front or all-wheel drive (AWD) options. Notably, 2011 and newer units will offer the award-winning Pentastar V6 engine as the uplevel option, delivering 283 horsepower along with numerous modern fuel-saving technologies.

Consider the Dodge Journey alongside its plethora of competitors in the used marketplace — including comparable units from Nissan, Hyundai, Chevrolet, and Honda. According to many shoppers, the Journey’s long list of handy, family-friendly touches inspired from Chrysler minivans, as well as its strong feature-for-the-dollar ratio, should make this one popular with growing families.

Test Drive To-Do List:

#1: Avoid the First Year

2009 Dodge Journey

As it tends to go with many used vehicles, shoppers are advised to avoid the first year of Dodge Journey production where possible, as the 2009 models had, by a fair margin, the highest number of problems reported by the owner’s community. Among the most popular of these issues were premature brake component wear — from the pads to the rotors to the calipers. If you’re dead set on a 2009 Dodge Journey, have a mechanic inspect these components carefully.

#2: Listen to the Suspension

2011 Dodge Journey

After confirming that the stereo and climate control fan both work as expected, switch them off and head to a rougher road. Numerous owners have reported a clunking, popping, or thumping sound from beneath the Journey on rougher surfaces, particularly when decelerating at a low speed and encountering a bump in the road, or during low-speed, sharp steering maneuvers like pulling into a driveway or parking space. Unwanted sounds and sensations like these are your invitation to have the used Journey’s suspension checked over by a mechanic for worn-out components.

#3: Try the Fancies


Your used Journey may come packed with numerous high-tech features and systems, including navigation, Bluetooth, remote key fobs, push-button start, power seats, a backup camera, and more. Before agreeing to purchase, triple-check any and every function inside of the used Journey you’re considering that runs on electricity, right down to the power windows and steering wheel mounted controls. If anything isn’t working as expected, now’s the time to find out. Note that in many cases, updated dealer-installed software can fix niggling electronic issues, as can a fresh battery. Pay close attention to the touch-screen UConnect system, if equipped. If a software update doesn’t remedy a detected issue with this feature, a replacement head unit may be required, and if it’s not covered by warranty, it won’t be inexpensive.

#4: Check the AWD System

2011 Dodge Journey

Have a mechanic inspect the hardware that drives the Journey’s available AWD system for signs of a potential fluid leak, and especially if you smell anything that resembles burning oil on your test drive, or if the unit you’re considering is a 2008 or 2009. If the AWD system is leaking oil, it may contact the hot exhaust, causing the offending smell. Oily drips beneath the vehicle are another sign of this potential issue, which is typically fixed with a replacement seal. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the AWD system’s maintenance requirements and fluid-change intervals, and to follow them, for maximum durability from this driveline component.

#5: Seating and Interior

2011 Dodge Journey

Give the Journey’s interior a good check over for signs of excessive wear to plastic panels, kick plates, rocker panel sills, and the seating fabric or leather. Any abundant signs of wear and tear should be called into pricing negotiations. Pay close attention to the plastics and carpeting in high-traffic areas where cargo and occupants get in and out, like the rear edge of the cargo hold, and the outer edge of the driver’s seat. Be sure all seats flip, fold and maneuver as outlined in the owner’s manual, too. Finally, be sure the tailgate stays open under its own power, even with a slight downwards pressure applied, or you may wind up taking some sheetmetal to the head. Solution? Replace the gas struts that hold the liftgate open.

2012 Dodge Journey

Your Best Bet?: Shoppers set on a used Journey can buy confidently after the model passes a standard pre-purchase inspection at mechanic of their choosing, and is confirmed to have a braking system that’s in good shape, and to be free of oil leaks from the AWD system (if equipped). We advise a 2011 or newer unit, with the V6 engine: mileage isn’t massively worse than the four-cylinder engine, though plenty more power is available. With lots of selection in the used market, and highly reasonable pricing, Journey looks like an appealing used buy in an affordable second-hand family hauler.

Good To Know:

2009 Dodge Journey Recalls, Technical Service Bulletins and Crash Ratings

2010 Dodge Journey Recalls, Technical Service Bulletins and Crash Ratings

2011 Dodge Journey Recalls, Technical Service Bulletins and Crash Ratings

2012 Dodge Journey Recalls, Technical Service Bulletins and Crash Ratings

2013 Dodge Journey Recalls, Technical Service Bulletins and Crash Ratings

2014 Dodge Journey Recalls, Technical Service Bulletins and Crash Ratings

2015 Dodge Journey Recalls, Technical Service Bulletins and Crash Ratings

  • Kamaka

    If you’re considering a Journey, you must be looking for a bargain. Your best bet is to stay away from the Dodge Journey. The 2011+ Dodge Durango and 2011+ Dodge Grand Caravan are much better. The 2010-2012 V6 Mitsubishi Outlander would be the bargain pick and 2010+ Ford Flex or Mazda CX-9 if you can get either for the right money.

  • Jennifer Adams

    I have a 2015 Dodge Journey (3.6 liter) and it drives like a dream, has all the space I could ever want, and was affordable. I specifically avoided the Durango due to the much higher price and larger vehicle profile. I avoided the Grand Caravan because… well, it’s a van, and my days of hauling little kids are over.

    Your comments sound largely biased, with no factual data other than you seem to dislike the model…

  • Kamaka

    I think there’s good things and bad things about every car. I didn’t cite Consumer Reports’ Reliability Surveys, KBB’s resale values, or my own experience in the car biz because I try to keep posts short. I’m glad you enjoy your Journey. I think loving your own car is more important that any of those resources or online opinions as I myself have a car that’s also bad on paper but a car that I really love.

    With that let me explain. I think buying a used Dodge Journey is very risky. 4 cylinder models are slow and thirsty and the Journey’s reliability is below average. Also a lot of Journeys have been rental cars. On the other hand new Journeys have big rebates, an available V6, and uConnect. Your experience confirms Autoguide’s advice to buy a newer Journey 3.6L. I still think it’s best to avoid a Journey as a used car but Condition and Price trump armchair advice.