RAC

Dodge Journey

Dodge is hoping to make the Journey more memorable than the destination with its latest MPV. Jonathan Crouch reports on the latest improved version.

Ten Second Review

Is it an SUV or an MPV? The Dodge Journey, now greener and better equipped, is tough to pin down but think of it as an MPV that looks like an SUV and you'll be near the mark. It has strong practicality, a decently finished interior by American standards and is more exciting to look at that your average seven-seater. Go on - live a little....

Background

There's nothing very trendy or dynamic about a seven-seat people carrier. One step down from a minibus and not too far removed from a full-blown Routemaster double-decker, these big MPVs are bought by people with vast, sprawling families that stubbornly refuse to fit into anything else. Recently, however, manufacturers have taken steps to minimise the frumpiness inherent in this kind of vehicle and with some success. Ford's S-MAX took a sporty approach, delivering attractive looks with a fun driving experience and here we've got the Dodge Journey, a big MPV with off-roader overtones. Don't get me wrong. It would be a brave or foolhardy individual that ventured off the asphalt in a Dodge Journey. The car is essentially a Chrysler Grand Voyager with a shorter wheelbase and is strictly front-wheel-drive. What it does have is the look of a 4x4 with its squared-off frontage, blistered wheelarches and roof-bars. It's certainly not your typical MPV shape.

Driving Experience

The Journey is propelled by one of two engines, a petrol or a diesel. The 2.4-litre petrol option is nothing to get over-excited about and is included largely to deliver an attractive entry-level price and to sate those who still can't abide diesel. It has a respectable 168bhp at its disposal but with 220Nm maximum torque at 4,500rpm, it's well down on the low-end muscle of the diesel which produces 310Nm at 2,500rpm. That CRD diesel is a Volkswagen-sourced 2.0-litre direct injection unit with 138bhp which copes reasonably well with this Dodge's 1895kg bulk. It's the pleasanter engine from a driving perspective than its petrol counterpart, though is a little noisier. In CRD trim, you can eventually wind the Journey up to a claimed 116mph before airflow defeats it You'd have to say that the Dodge Journey drives like the big American MPV-come-SUV that it is, so it's not the kind of car you'd chuck about the lanes. To be fair, it doesn't lean as much as you'd expect through the bends, thanks to stiff anti-roll bars. This roll stiffness makes the steering quite precise, and the Journey can be hustled through twists with more vigour than you'd think. It's certainly comfortable on the straights and so long as you take things easy, will be more than adequate for family use. The diesel engine is available with the twin-clutch semi-automatic gearbox pioneered by Volkswagen but for most buyers, the six-speed manual that comes as standard is probably a better bet. The entry-level petrol model gets a five-speed manual 'box.

Design and Build

It's the interior that Dodge Journey buyers will be most interested in. There are seven seats and all present a decent amount of space so long as you're not intending to keep a pair of adults cooped up in the third row for any length of time. The all-important middle row is particularly spacious. It can be split 60/40, with each section able to slide individually back and forth. Access to the rearmost seats is also very good with a tug on the lever on the outside seats of the middle row prompting them to fold and slide right forward, leaving plenty of room to enter with dignity. Of course, with all three rows in place, baggage room is at a premium, with only 303 litres available. If luggage is your priority, all of the seats can of course be folded flat to present an extensive load floor with 1914 litres of space. This includes the passenger seat which can be dropped down to further boost the available volume or give parents an unrestricted view to the little monsters in the back. The cabin features an unusually large number of very useful storage spaces. You can, for example, store 12 drinks cans in two under-floor bins behind the front-row seats and this car's storage bins even have removable, washable liners. There's a "Chill Zone" air-conditioned storage bin in the glovebox for two more drinks cans, and the front passenger seat can "Flip 'n Stow", revealing a storage area under the cushion and forming a table-top when folded. If you fold down the backs of the "Tilt 'n Slide" centre-row seats, a pair of cup-holders and a storage recess are revealed for third-row inhabitants.

Market and Model

The old American tactic of supplying lots of metal for the money has obviously been central to the thinking behind the vehicle. Equipment is hardly lacking either with a 'Tilt 'n Slide' flexible seating system, spacious under-floor storage bins and under-seat storage areas and three-zone climate control. The model also comes with 16-inch steel wheels, a tilt and telescopic steering column, tyre pressure monitoring, power-folding and heated door mirrors, electric windows and six-disc CD with MP3 compatible sound system all as standard. The most recent SE models also include second-row integrated child booster seats, odour and stain repel cloth and cruise control. Dodge would have us believe that the Journey is a 'crossover', a woolly industry term which you can take as meaning either 'the best of both worlds' or 'neither one thing nor the other'. It depends on your point of view. In market terms, it goes up against other seven-seat MPVs but aims to win sales with its 4x4 inspired styling and attractive value proposition.

Cost of Ownership

The CRD diesel engine that's offered in the Journey is the one to choose if you're concerned with costs. In recent times, this unit has improved its CO2 emissions and therefore dropped a tax band. In manual form, emissions are down by five grams per kilometre, moving from tax band H to G (saving £25 of vehicle excise duty) while as an automatic, emissions are down by 10 grams per kilometre, moving from Band J to I (saving £40 of vehicle excise duty). This powerplant is better at the pumps than you might expect too, returning up to 44.8mpg on the combined cycle. The 2.4-litre petrol engine isn't the most efficient of units and its 32mpg with 209g/km emissions may initiate a few second thoughts. The CRD comes up with a far more creditable 44.8mpg and a 165g/km rating for CO2. Insurance groups range between 10 and 11.

Summary

Despite that SUV-style exterior, the Journey is a conventional front-wheel-drive MPV and inside, it has all of the features that buyers would expect. All of the passenger seats can be folded flat to create a level load floor and there those handy under-floor cubbies to keep everything neat and tidy. The driving experience won't delight budding Lewis Hamiltons but the Journey rides well enough on decent surfaces and is perfectly comfortable on long motorway trips. We'd avoid the 2.4-litre petrol engine and choose the Volkswagen-sourced 2.0-litre diesel. If you like the idea of a large MPV with its multiple seating and storage options but have been turned off by the less than dynamic image that these models also bear, Dodge might have the answer. This car is big, well-equipped and tightly priced. It probably won't have been on your MPV shopping list if you've a growing family. But perhaps it should be.

Despite that SUV-style exterior, the Journey is a conventional front-wheel-drive MPV and inside, it has all of the features that buyers would expect. All of the passenger seats can be folded flat to create a level load floor and there those handy under-floor cubbies to keep everything neat and tidy. The driving experience won't delight budding Lewis Hamiltons but the Journey rides well enough on decent surfaces and is perfectly comfortable on long motorway trips. We'd avoid the 2.4-litre petrol engine and choose the Volkswagen-sourced 2.0-litre diesel. If you like the idea of a large MPV with its multiple seating and storage options but have been turned off by the less than dynamic image that these models also bear, Dodge might have the answer. This car is big, well-equipped and tightly priced. It probably won't have been on your MPV shopping list if you've a growing family. But perhaps it should be.

Is it an SUV or an MPV? The Dodge Journey is tough to pin down but think of it as an MPV that looks like an SUV and you'll be near the mark. It has strong practicality, a decently finished interior by American standards and is more exciting to look at that your average seven-seater. Go on - live a little.... It's the interior that Dodge Journey buyers will be most interested in. There are seven seats and all present a decent amount of space so long as you're not intending to keep a pair of adults cooped up in the third row for any length of time. The all-important middle row is particularly spacious. It can be split 60/40, with each section able to slide individually back and forth. All of the passenger seats can be folded flat to create a level load floor and there those handy under-floor cubbies to keep everything neat and tidy. The driving experience won't delight budding Lewis Hamiltons but the Journey rides well enough on decent surfaces and is perfectly comfortable on long motorway trips. We'd avoid the 2.4-litre petrol engine and choose the Volkswagen-sourced 2.0-litre diesel. If you like the idea of a large MPV with its multiple seating and storage options but have been turned off by the less than dynamic image that these models also bear, Dodge might have the answer. This car is big, well-equipped and tightly priced. It probably won't have been on your MPV shopping list if you've a growing family. But perhaps it should be.

Is it an SUV or an MPV? The Dodge Journey is tough to pin down but think of it as an MPV that looks like an SUV and you'll be near the mark. It has strong practicality, a decently finished interior by American standards and is more exciting to look at that your average seven-seater. Go on - live a little'. The Journey is propelled by one of two engines, a petrol or a diesel. The 2.4-litre petrol option is nothing to get over-excited about and is included largely to deliver an attractive entry-level price and to sate those who still can't abide diesel. It has a respectable 168bhp at its disposal but with 220Nm maximum torque at 4,500rpm, it's well down on the low-end muscle of the diesel which produces 310Nm at 2,500rpm. That CRD diesel is a Volkswagen-sourced 2.0-litre direct injection unit with 138bhp which copes reasonably well with this Dodge's 1895kg bulk. It's the pleasanter engine from a driving perspective than its petrol counterpart, though is a little noisier. In CRD trim, you can eventually wind the Journey up to a claimed 116mph before airflow defeats it. This unit now offers greener emissions and lower tax bandings. You'd have to say that the Dodge Journey drives like the big American MPV-come-SUV that it is, so it's not the kind of car you'd chuck about the lanes. To be fair, it doesn't lean as much as you'd expect through the bends, thanks to stiff anti-roll bars. This roll stiffness makes the steering quite precise, and the Journey can be hustled through twists with more vigour than you'd think. It's certainly comfortable on the straights and so long as you take things easy, will be more than adequate for family use. The diesel engine is available with the twin-clutch semi-automatic gearbox pioneered by Volkswagen but for most buyers, the six-speed manual that comes as standard is probably a better bet. The entry-level petrol model gets a five-speed manual 'box. It's the interior that Dodge Journey buyers will be most interested in. There are seven seats and all present a decent amount of space so long as you're not intending to keep a pair of adults cooped up in the third row for any length of time. The all-important middle row is particularly spacious. It can be split 60/40, with each section able to slide individually back and forth. Prices for the Journey look attractive, sitting in the £17,000 to £22,000 bracket. That's about 10% less than obvious rivals. The old American tactic of supplying lots of metal for the money has obviously been central to the thinking behind the vehicle. Equipment is hardly lacking either with three-zone climate control, tyre-pressure sensors, a 6 CD stereo and electric everything all coming as standard. Another boon is the safety kit which includes ESP stability control and curtain airbags running the length of the vehicle. If you like the idea of a large MPV with its multiple seating and storage options but have been turned off by the less than dynamic image that these models also bear, Dodge might have the answer. This car is big, well-equipped and tightly priced. It probably won't have been on your MPV shopping list if you've a growing family. But perhaps it should be.

Scores
Performance 7
Handling 6
Comfort 8
Space 8
Styling 7
Build 7
Value 7
Equipment 7
Economy 6
Depreciation 5
Insurance 6
Total 74
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