RAC

Dodge Journey

Introduction

June Neary confronts her family holiday demons in the seven-seat Dodge Journey.

Will It Suit Me?

Most people won't have quite the level of mental scarring that I suffer from when it comes to long car journeys but upon learning that I was about to test a family-sized MPV called the Dodge Journey, I embarked on a particularly vivid flashback. Through the haze I saw a car-packed motorway stretching out ahead into infinity, from over my shoulder came the terrible screams of truculent children. "He's got my crayons." "She's spilt my drink." "Are we there yet?" Projectiles, from action figures to jelly beans, ricochet around the cabin like machine gun fire and there's the intermittent thudding of the little darlings kicking the back of my seat. I emerged from my thousand yard stare with a shudder. Long journeys with kids can be the stuff of nightmares but could this American MPV make them any less dodgy? The Dodge Journey is a large seven-seater MPV. Not one of those five seat people carriers with a couple of fold-away chairs in the boot but a proper seven seater with seven seats that you can fit seven fully-grown people in. To achieve this kind of interior capacity, the designers have made it quite a size. At close to five meters long, it looked a daunting prospect as I approached it across the office car park. The other thing to mention is that the Dodge has a bit more road-presence than you'd expect from a large MPV. It has the look of a 4x4 about it with its chunky grille and flared wheelarches.

Practicalities

It's the interior that Dodge Journey buyers will be most interested in. Those seven seats 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 for more flexibility. 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 - ideal for handling spillages. 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. Dodge has definitely put some thought into how this car will be used.

Behind the Wheel

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 lacks the mid-range strength of the 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel. This is a pleasanter engine from a driving perspective than its petrol counterpart, though is a little noisier. You'd have to say that the Dodge Journey drives like the big American MPV 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.

Value For Money

Prices for the Journey look attractive, sitting in the £17,000 to £23,000 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. The CRD diesel engine that's offered in the Journey is the one to choose if you're concerned with costs. 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 43.5mpg and a 170g/km rating for CO2. Insurance groups range between 10 and 11.

Could I Live With One?

The Dodge Journey has a bit more character about it than the majority of large MPV products and looks attractively priced compared to its rivals too. It's not the slickest package in this sector in terms of build quality or driving dynamics but it's a big, honest, user-friendly car that's well worthy of your consideration. Anything that can render a long car journey with four kids in the back any less traumatic gets my vote.

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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