2013 Dodge Journey
Date Posted: September 8, 2013
By Zack Spencer
One of the best selling crossovers is the Dodge Journey and for good reason.
Can you remember being a kid and playing with a pocketknife or Swiss Army knife, pulling out all the different tools and features? I always liked the toothpick and corkscrew on the one I had. The beauty of these devices was the ability to carry one item that could do so much. It was compact, easy to use and came in very handy. Well, this is the way Dodge describes their crossover called Journey, it's the Swiss Army Knife of family vehicles. It's part compact car, part SUV, part van and can be equipped with different power options. With a starting price of $19,495 it is cheaper than buying a compact SUV and often cheaper than many compact or mid-sized cars. Price is the main reason it sells so well, a good price and Swiss Army functionality.
In the Chrysler family of vehicles, their best seller is the Ram pickup followed by the Dodge Grand Caravan. As popular as that van is, there are certain buyers who can't get past the whole soccer Mom minivan-driving stigma that comes with these vehicles. This is why the Journey has a place. For those that want the functionality of a van but not the look, a crossover like the Journey fulfills many needs of a family but Mom and Dad are happy to be seen in it. The side doors open conventionally, there is no sliding option and the large tailgate offers access to a useful cargo area. Don't kid yourself, this is not nearly as big as a minivan but for many families it will more than fit the bill. Choice is a big part of any vehicle decision and the Journey can be equipped with a 4-cylinder or V6, with front wheel drive or all wheel drive. Something many compact SUV's don't offer.
I can clearly remember driving the original Journey back in 2008. It was a very functional crossover but the interior looked like it was a collection of castoff parts from other Chrysler vehicles. In 2011 there was a major update done, not just to the Journey but many of Chrysler's vehicles. I attended the launch in San Francisco and drove 9 vehicles over two days and the one model that I thought had been refreshed with the best interior was the Journey. The transformation from a cheap looking and feeling interior to one of high quality soft touch materials, upscale dash and features is nothing short of amazing. The centre console is equipped with either a 4.3-inch touch screen but higher trim levels get the massive 8.4-inch unit that is very quick and easy to operate. Seating is fine for the first two rows of passengers but the optional third row of seats is really only an option for a family with children. The fact that a 7-pasenger model is available for $1475 is an alternative to buying a bigger van or SUV.
As mentioned there are two engines available. The base 4-cylinder is a 2.4L 4-cylinder with 173hp and is matched to a 4-speed automatic and front wheel drive. A 4-speed automatic really is old school and falling behind the trend to six, seven and even 8-speed gearboxes. The good news is the 283hp 3.6L V6 models comes standard with a 6-speed automatic and the top R/T model seen here is the only one available with AWD. When equipped with the V6, the Journey is a real powerhouse. The competition in this class are the Chevrolet Orlando and Mazda5, both only come with a 4-cylinder engine. The R/T is backed up with a bit more road presence than the rest of the Journey line, thanks to a sportier suspension and firmer steering feel. It is noticeable and makes the Journey slightly bumpier but also more responsive, so it is a good idea to try this model and compare it to another non-R/T Journey.
What attracts most people to the Journey is the value that is packed into the six different trim levels, starting at just under $20,000 and toping out around $30,000. If you look for a V6 equipped compact SUV with 283hp and AWD, you would start where the Journey finishes off and the other crossovers in this class don't even offer a V6 at all. The 4-cylinder might be the value trim but there is a reason it is less expensive. It is using older technology to achieve an eye-catching price. The good news is that the Journey is nicely finished on the inside and is functional, making the value versus drivetrain decision much easier to swallow. If it were my money, the less efficient but more powerful V6 would be in the running. The Journey has a lot to offer to young Canadian families who might not want the image of a minivan but like the functionality of a crossover, a Swiss Army Knife on wheels.
The Good, The Bad
Very functional interior and plenty of power with the V6.
No AWD on less expensive models and a 4-speed automatic is out of date.
Power: 2.4L 4-cylinder with 173hp or 3.6L V6 with 283hp
Sticker price: $19,495-$29,795