Dodge Journey Road Test Review
by Martha Hindes
Unlike the rock band of Wikipedia note, Webster's defines “Journey” as the travel distance from point A to point B -- about a day's distance in ancient times. We'll stick to Webster's when discussing the 2012 Dodge Journey SUV; although today's daylong travel distance exceeds anything even imaginable in the past. We think Dodge got it spot on with the name, since it implies some serious travel miles. And, in our opinion, does so in top notch style with some clever and very usable features perhaps lifted from Dodge Caravan country with a fresh, accommodating demeanor totally of sport utility style.
After all, here is a good looking four-door, liftgate vehicle designed to carry as many as seven on the above-referenced trip, without being oversized in the process. For one traveling with precious items, Dodge offers some hiding places that don't call attention to themselves, such as a front passenger seat bin that pops up and open from the seat cushion when needed. Same for the rear seat, dual floor bins in our test model Journey. But, feeling impressed by the driving experience we just completed, maybe we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves.
The front-drive Journey, the smaller of two trek-ready siblings (the other, the Durango), isn't a new vehicle from Dodge. It’s been around for four years now, with a total redesign last year. In its 2012 iteration, it wears some driver-friendly updates. (Dodge included third row and Tilt 'n Slide second row seating last spring at no extra charge -- cutting about $1,000 from the price tag -- a treat we can only hope it will repeat.) For those with an eye on the gas gauge, the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine becomes standard on AVP (American Value Package), SE and SXT models. That engine that delivers 173-horses is rated at 26-MPG during highway driving, according to Dodge. Our five-passenger test model SXT with optional ($1,500) 283-HP Pentastar V-6, with all-wheel-drive, was rated at 17 city and 25 highway miles. Also new, some trim updates and optional entertainment DVD.
Getting behind the wheel, we found the interior handsome and inviting with a nice, open to-the-outside feel. Backing up from a crowded parking lot space was a breeze, thanks to the available backup camera with video displayed on Dodge's Uconnect 4.3-inch touch screen. With the exception of the trip counter that took a while to locate via a menu button, controls seemed logical and easy to use with touch screen or button access to air conditioning settings and entertainment audio. The height adjustable driver's seat made it comfortable for drivers of all heights to gain the most comfort and visibility for long trips. Families with young children older than the toddler stage should appreciate the built-in rear child seats that pop up out of the seat cushion, and disappear back down when not needed.
Behind the wheel, we appreciated the pep of the V-6, paired with a six-speed automatic and firm control and solid handling that smoothed the driving chore without any sense of having to work at it. We've heard criticisms about the four-cylinder's under powered performance, but can't testify to the accuracy.
In a world populated with every imaginable color name, we found the aptly-named “bright red” exterior that sets off the Journey's bold look against the crossbar chromed face uncomplicated and refreshing.
And with a base price of $22,995 ($28,905 with options packages and destination), we tend to agree with Dodge's claim about the value part of the equation. We think you get a lot of SUV for the money.
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