Like the Dodge Caravan, the Journey is one of the last vehicles that was designed in Chrysler’s pre-bankrupcy era. It came on to market in 2008 as a 2009 model and hasn’t changed a lot visually since then, except for a few details.
Theses include redesigned headlights, grille and new tail lamps for the most part. Recently new though is the Crossroad trim grade that adds a more sporty and off-roady vibe with lower plastic cladding, skid plate elements, and a unique front fascia.
The Crossroad gets blacked out headlights and a gloss-black grille that add some flair to the otherwise plain-wrapper design. I also like the dark chrome finished 19-inch wheels. Even with all this though, you won’t find the latest LED lighting elements front or rear, or even HID headlamps.
Our Journey Crossroad Plus interior was fully outfitted with leather seats that have mesh trim inserts, continuing the off-road outdoor lifestyle theme. Also upgraded were stitched trims on the door panels and center console.
The driver seat has power adjustments for the lower portion but back recline is still manual, and the front passenger seat is also manually adjusted. Both are quite comfortable and in our tester are heated as is the steering wheel.
You can adjust the wheel with both tilt and telescope adjustments and it has a wide array of controls for audio and trip computer functions. The latter information is displayed on a TFT center screen between the two large dials in the instrument cluster.
The front passenger seat for instance has a deep storage bin under its lower cushion that is easily accessible by the driver. You can also fold the seat back down flat to extend the rear cargo area or provide a desk space for the driver.
The center console offers up a deep storage bin up front with a power source, again easily reached from the driver seat. Netted gadget pockets are on the side and of course the console has a deep well storage area under its armrest too.
When it comes to cargo space, there’s only a small area with the third row seats up. But when you start folding them and the second row seats down you end up with a flat cargo floor all the way up to the first row. And folding them all down is very easily done.
A small storage compartment in the floor also resides at the rear that can be used with the third row up or down. There is a spare tire with the Journey, it can be found and accessed from underneath the rear bumper. (photo).
Getting in and out of the back with people or cargo is almost as good as a mini-van because the Journey’s rear doors swing open nearly 90-degrees. And on both sides, the second row seats slide forward for easy access to the third row.
Those third row seat backs do also have a recline adjustment by the way, which helps but like the second row seats they are flat and stiff, not as comfortable as we would like for long road trips.
In the big picture though, this interior offers a lot of practicality and versatility for a vehicle of this size and price. It’s simple and basic, but put together better than some vehicles we test that cost a lot more. Thus it earns 4 of 5 stars.
Being fully optioned, our Journey has the 8.4-inch touch-screen infotainment system with Garmin navigation, satellite radio, and Uconnect features. The system works exceptionally well in all areas of use.
Its sound is reasonably good. Using the navigation system is easy. Its graphics and menus are clear and easy to understand, and it responds well to your touch inputs. It also displays the rear-backup camera images very clearly.
Though the technologies here are found in a humble Dodge, this infotainment system is one of the top five on the market in our opinion. Bringing the technologies score for the Journey to 4 of 5 stars.
Under the hood comes a standard 2.4 liter four-cylinder engine with 173 horsepower. But ours was optioned with the 283 horsepower 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
As tested, our Journey with the V6 and all-wheel drive is rated by the EPA at 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. It has a rating of 19 mpg combined by the government, and in our time testing it we did achieve exactly that, 19 mpg.
Even though it met its promised mpg target, it’s still a bit on the thirsty side competitively. And if we had any improvements to ask for it would be a transmission that was a bit more on the ball to down-shift when asked. Overall though this powertrain still scores well at 4 of 5 stars.
The Crossroad does have an upgraded suspension package with has unique shock and spring tuning for more aggressive use. Its all-wheel drive is an on-demand system which operates in front-wheel drive most of the time, but can send power to the rear-wheels when needed.
With 7.3-inches of ground clearance it’s above what most cars offer up which affords some extra capabilities but the Journey Crossroad isn’t aimed at the avid off-roader. This is a package more for the occasional adventurer and the the snow-belt driver. Even still, its chassis earns 4 of 5 stars.
On safety the IIHS testing shows that the Journey performed good on their full battery of testing, but poor on their newest small-overlap crash test as it was designed well before this new test was instituted. This showing and the absence of crash prevention systems make it ineligible for an IIHS Top Safety Pick status.
In the final analysis of rating vehicles we always look for fit and finish inside and out, the feel of materials, and we slam the doors to listen to how solid they are. Other than some minor resonance and rattles on the washboard road, the Journey is is well put together and feels exceptionally solid. It earns 4 of 5 stars in quality feel.
Pricing out at just under $35,000 near fully loaded and starting at under $21,000 we feel the Dodge Journey represents an excellent value. Competitively, you’d be hard pressed to find a three-row crossover with all its versatility and apparent build quality.
This earns it a value score at 5 of 5 stars, bringing out total test score to 4 of 5 stars.