Taking a curious Journey with Dodge’s mid-sized crossover
summit daily auto writer
I suspect that a couple of details about the mostly inoffensive Dodge Journey crossover really help to drive home the market this mid-sized, seven-passenger vehicle is hoping to reach.
Firstly, the vehicle was recently awarded the Pet Safe Choice Award for its mixture of animal-friendly ventilation, access and the availability of aftermarket, pet-related gear.
Secondly, when you’re digging through the stats on the Journey, you have to go past about nine pages of material outlining the family truckster-styled options (streaming Sirius Backseat TV, a zillion storage bins, Stow ‘n Go seating and even built-in second row kiddie seats) before you find out how much horsepower the thing actually has.
Built on the same platform as the highly memorable Dodge Avenger (state car of Ohio, I think), the very subtle subtleties of the Journey may not be for everyone. But as a slightly more stylish retooling of the traditional SUV/minivan blend, Journey might provide domestic-minded purists with a reasonable alternative. These are choices you’re going to have to make yourself.
Frankly, from the sounds of it, Journey is one of the slightly amorphous vehicles that Fiat, Chrysler’s new owners, will probably depth-charge the minute they have the ability to effectively produce and market their European wares on this side of the Atlantic.
In the meantime, looking for all the world like a slightly inflated version of the Dodge Caliber, the Journey certainly completes its duty as more-than-rudimentary people hauler and (optionally) AWD-equipped all-season cruiser.
Tipping the scales at just over 4,200 pounds, the 192-inch-long Journey comes with two engine choices, although even the larger, 235-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 caused me much consternation as I attempted to maintain speed going up and over the passes.
Journey needs hella pedal pressure to keep rolling at high altitude, even empty of passengers; the trade-off during your summertime excursions on the great plains will be highway mileage reaching 23 mpg. Cruise without huge pedal pressure and a green “Eco” light comes on, reminding you not to cruise with great pedal pressure.
The associated girth is also a tad cumbersome on big corners or during full stops, though I had an overall feeling of poise and security. It’s one of nearly a dozen Dodge and Chrysler offerings to earn an IIHS Top Safety Pick, so the metal’s definitely in the right places.
Step inside and you’ll find that the shifter for the six-speed, manually selectable automatic transmission is in an odd position, located in front of the center console and armrest.
The console design is slightly wonky, with a Crossfire-styled, stippled silver center panel hovering over the dash.
Cabin comfort is definitely SUV-lite, with easy exits and oversized seats (the front passenger’s pops open to reveal a storage box, while the (on my tester) second row “Tilt ‘n Slide” seats contain useful child booster seats, although the result is uncomfortable seat bottoms for adult passengers).
Stowable third-row seating means that, like the Grand Cherokee, the cargo deck is at an adult male’s waist height when you open the tailgate; minus a tonneau cover, my skis and gear were left precariously high and exposed. You do get 67 cubic feet of room with the second and third-row seats flattened.
Chrysler’s slightly distracting litany of geegaws and doodads is in full effect, including a chilled can holder in the upper glove box, a rear DVD system and even a pop-out flashlight in the rear back wall. A three-channel stream of live TV is apparently being upped to a wider array of channels in the near future, at a cost.
A non-navigation system-equipped uConnect touchscreen music interface allowed great access to the high-watt Infinity sound system, but I had a challenging time syncing my Bluetooth phone and when I did, there was noise radio interference.
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