If you don’t mind driving a compact crossover SUV that looks closer to a minivan, at least in the front, then the Journey will work nicely. It gets the basics right. It has an attractive design, is quiet on the road, has a decent amount of passenger space, provides versatile engines, all at a family-friendly, low price (even cheaper now that you’re buying used), along with convenient/entertainment features and plenty of safety features.
It gets the job done, and holds its own quite well for a vehicle that arrived onto such a hot segment scene late in the game.
A late arrival to the crossover SUV scene, the Dodge Journey needed to play catchup with the other segment leaders. The whole promise of a used Dodge Journey is that the Journey delivers minivan conveniences without the minivan “soccer mom” stigma. Obviously, this vehicle was initially targeted towards men who were looking for a different vehicle other than a minivan to tote the kids around in. The question is, did Dodge hit its mark? In short, yes. In 2009, the premier of the first generation, the Journey was praised for its minivan-like interior conveniences, entertainment options, and comfortable ride quality. Safety was also solid, so that about covers all the categories a minivan has to satisfy.
However, it’s obvious that the Journey is the successor of the Avenger. The front-end looks similar, and when combined with the crossover SUV body, the Journey does end up looking more minivan than compact SUV.
The Journey is a compact crossover SUV that comes in SE, SXT, and R/T trim levels. Regardless of which trim level you pick, you will have seating for up to five passengers, but when the optional 50/50 split-folding bench seat is installed, you get seating for up to seven.
A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is standard, rated for 173 horsepower and 166 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s paired to a four-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. The SXT and R/T trims get bumped up to a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 235 horsepower and 232 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine is paired to a six-speed automatic with manual shift control, and buyers can opt for four-wheel drive over two on these trim levels. As far as fuel-efficiency goes, AWD numbers with a V6 engine are rated at 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway, about average for this segment.
New for 2010 on the Dodge Journey are driver and front-passenger active head restraints, along with a large 9-inch screen for the rear entertainment system - something the kids will love. For the parents, a six-speaker stereo with a six-disc CD/MP3 changer carries over from last year. For more entertainment options in the front on higher trim levels, Bluetooth and an iPod adapter can be equipped.
As far as safety goes, every Journey comes with antilock disc brakes, traction control, active front head restraints, front-seat side airbags/side curtain airbags and rollover-sensing stability control. Optional features include a rearview camera, along with second-row child booster seats - a landmark in this segment, as the Journey was the first to offer those second-row child booster seats for a compact crossover SUV. It received five stars in front and side impact categories from the NHTSA, and the IIHS gave the Journey the highest rating of “Good” for frontal-offset and side impacts. In other words, this vehicle is perfectly safe on the road.
Big changes came to the Dodge Journey for 2011. Namely, a new engine has been added on to the lineup, the suspension and steering have been retuned, and the interior revamped to a higher quality. Including a larger 8.4-inch touchscreen that’s been added for the driver and front passenger, which is the most noticeable interior upgrade.
The new engine in question is actually a more powerful version of the previous 3.6-liter V6 engine that’s found on the SXT and R/T trim. Now, the 3.6-liter V6 will produce 283 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. Indeed, this represents quite the gain in power when compared to the 235 horsepower and 232 lb.-ft. of torque coming off the previous engine.
Driving on the road, the 2011 Dodge Journey now feels better than ever, thanks to the re-tuned suspension and steering. However, it does rely heavily on what engine you pick. The 3.6-liter V6 obviously provides much better acceleration than the base 2.4-liter engine, with only a slight hit to fuel economy.
Apart from changes to the trim names and order, the Dodge Journey remains unchanged for 2012, given that it just received a slew of upgrades last year.
Good news for 2013: the price of the Journey Crew (which slots between the SXT and R/T) trim has been reduced, and Dodge decided to add on a few more standard features to up its value, such as leather upholstery and heated front seats.
Which means the Journey’s interior gained even more favor compared to previous years. From both a design and execution standpoint the interior has always been good, but now it's great. At this point in time, the Journey's interior was considered one of the best in the segment. Clever storage bins, classy looks, and high-quality materials can only begin to cover the extensive list of everything Dodge got right. Part of that clever storage comes from the Journey’s 68 cu. ft. of space when all the rear seats are folded down, which is only a few cubes smaller than a RAV4 of the same year. Quite impressive for a compact crossover SUV.
Unfortunately, not much changed for the Dodge Journey in 2014, 2015, and 2016. It retained all the same positive qualities of the previous years, and sauntered along without anything new. However, these are all viable model years to buy if you’re interested in a certified pre-owned model, which is a vehicle that has low miles and guaranteed quality and reliability.
Since it’s 2017, it is possible to grab a 2016 model that’s been lightly used. Of course, this will be the more expensive of these three remaining years in the generation. But, it will also have all the latest and greatest technology and safety suite features offered by Dodge.
It’s still plugging along with the same high-quality interior and two engine options, which is fine, since those are two of the best qualities this vehicle has.