Monday, January 26, 2009

Dodge Journey: A familiar family hauler

The 2009 Dodge Journey, a small to mid-size crossover SUV, is a very nice family vehicle, available with three rows of seats, a second-row DVD screen and some nice storage compartments.

Hey, can't pretty much all of that be said of the Grand Caravan, Dodge's entry in the minivan category?

Yeah, pretty much.

Also like the Grand Caravan, the Journey allows you to haul your crew around in comfort and just a bit of style.

The Grand Caravan is a little larger, but other than that, the only notable difference we could discern was the fact that the Journey - with its hinged, rather than sliding, side doors - is called a crossover, not a minivan.

Maybe that makes a difference to some people.

The most pleasing thing about the Journey, other than its functionality, is its ride quality.

It was relatively smooth on the roads, and engine noise was minimal.

We drove the R/T version, which came with a 3.5-liter high-output, 24-valve V-6 engine.

It made 235 horsepower and 232 pounds-feet of torque.

Its fuel economy ratings are 16 mpg city and 23 highway.

It won't thrill you on twisty roads, but you don't generally expect that from this type of vehicle.

The steering feels pretty solid, and the Journey handles uneven pavement adequately, without making you feel as if you're riding a bucking bronco.

With the R/T model, you get a little extra boost of performance; the base SE model might not feel quite as slick.

Also available is an SXT model.

On the interior, neat touches like a storage compartment beneath the front passenger seat and under the floor of the second row prompt a salute to the convenience engineers employed by Dodge.

(We don't really think there is anyone working at Dodge with that title, but whoever thinks of this type of thing is essentially functioning in that role).

Also, families, check out the integrated child booster seats.

Great idea.

Taller drivers, though, might be a bit annoyed by the cramped space for the person behind the wheel.

Your knee will keep hitting the low-hanging base of the dashboard, near where the radio controls are.

And having the radio controls there is a little awkward, too, because you feel as if you are reaching down and away to get to the knobs.

Take a few points away from the convenience engineers on that one.

The Journey also seems to fall in with much of the rest of the Dodge crowd when it comes to interior fit and finish.

That is to say, its quality is lacking a bit.

Some competing auto makers seem able to make fairly high-quality interiors without having to charge buyers an arm and a leg, so you wonder why Dodge can't do so consistently.

Our tester, which was fully loaded, carried a sticker price of $34,225.

Overall, we'd say the Journey is a good family car, even if not necessarily a great one.

2009 Dodge Journey

Vehicle type: Seven-passenger crossover SUV

Engine: 3.5-liter V-6

Horsepower: 235

Torque: 232 pounds-feet

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Fuel economy: 16 mpg city, 23 highway, according to EPA

Price as tested: $34,225

No comments: