We shouldn’t be surprised to see so many examples of the Journey crossover, as Dodge sold more than 105,000 units in 2015 alone and nearly 94,000 in 2014. With prices ranging from $21,990 for a two-row, four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive model to nearly $40K for a full-boat, three-row, all-wheel-drive V-6 R/T, the Journey certainly casts a wide net over the mid-size crossover segment.
The Crossroad Plus trim (below only the R/T in the hierarchy) of our test car brings unique front and rear styling; “Platinum Chrome” roof rails, side sills, and front and rear fascia accents; 19-inch aluminum wheels; and some additional minor embellishments. Finished in basic black of varying textures and sheens, the interior provides utilitarian style rather than flash, featuring leather seating with mesh inserts, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, Chrysler’s ubiquitous and intuitive 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system, a power driver’s seat, and a trick storage bin under the flip-up cushion of the front passenger seat, which makes it easy to keep phones and tablets out of sight but within easy reach—as long as no one is sitting there, of course.
Our test example also included the $1250 Popular Equipment group (heated front seats and steering wheel, remote start, alarm); the $1295 Navigation and Backup group (navigation, backup camera, park assist, and the usual collection of SiriusXM travel and traffic services); and finally, $225 built-in rear child booster seats that make lugging around those grime-grabbing portable plastic boosters a thing of the past. And the pricing is very competitive among three-row crossovers; our nearly loaded $34,660 Journey is thousands cheaper than, say, a no-options Chevrolet Traverse LT AWD, which goes for $36,900.
So it’s no wonder Dodge advertises the Journey as the “most affordable three-row V-6 AWD crossover.” It is not, however, the roomiest. Encouraged by the easy use and functionality of the aforementioned second-row booster seats, we figured the time was right to let the kiddies populate the third row, and that’s where things hit a snag. Despite being equipped with the necessary articulation to allow the second row to—in theory—move out of the way, it’s still a painfully tight squeeze through the gap into the third row. Luckily, the children in our test group took glee in simply flinging themselves over the second-row seatbacks to get to the third row. It’s worth mentioning that although the front seats offer Barcalounger levels of comfort, the second row is tight for grain-fed adults. Frankly, most of the Journey’s competitors offer better second- and third-row accommodations.
Dynamically speaking, driving the Journey is akin to piloting a rolling sensory-deprivation chamber. The steering, brakes, and other controls are vague and feel disconnected, even compared with uninvolving three-row competitors such as the Toyota Highlander. And vehicles such as the Toyota 4Runner and the Jeep Grand Cherokee offer the kind of off-road capability that would leave the Journey spinning its wheels. But the Journey will work among those for whom the weight of day-to-day life has long supplanted any need to contemplate the subtle intricacies of chassis refinement or rock-crawling capabilities.
Despite its indifferent controls, the Journey is at least in the hunt when it comes to quantifying its ability to go, stop, and turn. Equipped with the optional 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and all-wheel drive, our test car required 7.8 seconds to reach 60 mph and 16.1 to complete the quarter-mile, clocking within several tenths of the numbers posted by the 2013 Dodge Journey V-6 we tested earlier. With 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, the corporate V-6 pulls competitively, but the engine feels like it doesn’t really wake up until about 3500 rpm, and the six-speed automatic is lackadaisical. Slow to respond whether shifted manually or left to its own devices, the gearbox in our test car repeatedly exhibited a clumsy two-three upshift that probably added a few tenths to the acceleration times.
The stop from 70 mph consumed a respectable 177 feet, and the 225/55R-19 Kumho Solus KH16 tires held on long enough to post 0.76 g of grip on our 300-foot skidpad. These numbers fall reasonably close to those produced by the mid-size crossover set, such as the two-row Nissan Murano (178 feet, 0.78 g) and the three-row Toyota Highlander (186 feet, 0.80 g). So while the Journey is capable of keeping the pack in sight when pressed, it doesn’t really enjoy it. Finally, we were disappointed with the 17 mpg overall that our Journey returned. To compare apples to bigger apples, that’s the same mileage figure we achieved in our test of its big brother, the Dodge Durango with the 360-hp Hemi V-8. If fuel efficiency is your goal, there are thriftier ways to ride than a Journey with the V-6 engine.
It’s been said that life is a journey, not a destination. Dodge Journey owners, on the other hand, are advised to focus on the destination part, as there are numerous competitors that make for more compelling travel partners.