Introduced in 2008, the Journey is still a first-generation product and after All These Years is still considered to be a value oriented vehicle. For 2014, we got our hands on a fully loaded R/T model, which looks like a capable and versatile family hauler but raises the question: does this Dodge still deliver a deal when it’s generously optioned out?
|Engine: 3.6L V6 makes 283 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder is also available with 173 hp and 166 lb-ft.
Transmission: V6 models come with a six-speed automatic, while four-cylinder models get a four-speed.
Fuel Economy: V6 AWD models rated at 16 MPG city, 24 MPG highway, 19 MPG combined.
Pricing: Base models start at $20,990. Our R/T model with options and destination came to $35,325.
It’s easy to see what makes the Journey so appealing – an MSRP of $20,990 means it’s quite affordable in its base form. If you find that model too limiting, a number of options help configure the Journey in a way that spans market segments. There’s a beefy 283 hp V6 available for those who want more power than the base four-cylinder, which makes just 173 hp. Front-wheel drive can be swapped for all-wheel drive and seating can increase from five seats to seven. Dodge can even add extra storage in the form of a compartment in the front passenger seat.
Increasing sales per year mean that the Journey has been received with Open Arms thanks to its low price and family friendly versatility. Where the base model can hang with the CR-V in terms of price, passenger space and cargo capacity, the Journey makes available the option of more power and more seats than its competition.
The R/T model we have not only has the optional third row, but the extra two cylinders and extra drive wheels too. It also features a few extra interior goodies, including the Uconnect navigation system and red-accented leather upholstery. The only other vehicle in this class that can also offer a V6, all-wheel drive and seat seven is the fully loaded Mitsubishi Outlander, which is less powerful, offers less third-row headroom and is low on total cargo space compared to the Journey.
Equipped with the flexible seating package, the Journey’s second row gets tilt, slide and recline features in addition to the standard 60/40 split folding capability. Of course, the big draw of this package is the third row, which makes the Journey a possible minivan replacement. Sadly, these extra two seats are limited in terms of comfort, with just 23.4 inches of legroom and 37.7 inches of head room. It’s a good backup plan if you have to transport a few extra troops (and little ones at that) but if the question of Who’s Crying Now comes up, the answer will almost certainly be: someone in the third row.
The second row is far more comfortable offering up as much head-room as the segment leading Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. Legroom isn’t lacking either and back-seat passengers can even control their HVAC settings back there.
Cargo space is fantastic, with a total of 67.6 cubic feet of usable room. The cavernous trunk space was extremely helpful during home renovations, where the Journey proved capable of swallowing up an entire 30-inch bathroom vanity and mirror with no problems.
From The Lead Singer’s Chair
Finally, since all the important decisions are done by the folks in the front seats, the Journey R/T features comfy leather wrapped captain and co-pilot seats which also feature seat warmers. Especially appreciated during this cold weather was the heated steering wheel – a rare item in smaller crossovers.
Overall, the cabin uses soft-touch plastics to give the car a more premium feel and the always excellent Uconnect infotainment system was flawless during testing.
Rounding out the features of this R/T model is the standard 368-watt Infinity sound system which had us belting Don’t Stop Believing by Journey, in the Journey, with authentic enthusiasm. Other handy features added to our test vehicle included remote-start, navigation, a backup camera and parking sensors. While nice to have, it’s unfortunate that in a family-focused crossover like this the backup camera isn’t standard.
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a bottomless pit of features, making this fully loaded model ring in at $35,325. While pricey, it is actually cheaper than a fully loaded Ford Escape.
Amped up Performance, Muted Fuel Economy
Poke the push-button start and the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine roars to life. Where the 2.4-liter engine is a touch underpowered and paired to an ancient four-speed automatic, this V6 engine is Worlds Apart from its four-banger cousin. Paired with the all-wheel drive system and the six-speed automatic transmission, the Journey fulfills that rock star feeling of putting the foot down and taking off.
With nearly 300 hp on tap, it takes a lot to make this car feel like it’s run out of breath. One complaint is that the car gets noisy, a soundtrack comprising of engine and wind noise (not to mention occasional whining from the third row) that gets a bit grating on longer trips, so it’s a good thing that 368 watt sound system is standard.
Dodge claims that a high performance suspension setup is used in R/T models, along with a firmer feeling steering wheel but the handling characteristics of this vehicle aren’t too far on the wild-side. Worth mentioning is the cars Sweet and Simple driving feel, which was unexpected given the three-row setup and 4,238 lbs. curb weight. The all-wheel drive system is an on-demand setup, sending power to the rear-wheels when slip is detected. It worked well enough during a snowy winter, giving us that extra bit of confidence.
There are a few complaints with the vehicle’s powertrain. While it’s no doubt the best configuration of the crossover, the Journey is a bit on the loud side, especially during acceleration. Fuel economy is also a bit of a downer. We Faithfully saw 18 MPG during our week of testing in cold temperatures and snow. That’s not far off of the EPA estimated 19 MPG combined but other bigger V6 equipped three-row crossovers like the Santa Fe and Pathfinder can muster more miles per gallon.
In terms of looks, the Journey features the expected Dodge touches – a crosshair grille, sharply designed headlights, LED tail lights, along with fancy looking dual-chrome exhaust tips. It’s certainly cooler looking than a minivan.
Extremely versatile, the Journey is available Any Way You Want It: four-cylinders or six, up to three rows and all-wheel or front-wheel drive. While fuel efficiency could stand to be improved, the low starting price and sheer amount of affordable options help the value-packed Journey suit your needs.