Dodge Journey delivers notable family value


Some seven-passenger crossovers actually deliver real room for seven adults — and their legs. While the Dodge Journey offers both five- and seven-passenger options, its seven-passenger offering is more inclined to accommodate kids in the third row — no adults allowed.

The good thing is there are many more family features designed into the Journey that make it worth checking into if you are looking for a family vehicle that won’t empty your bank account.

The 2017 Dodge Journey is available in five trim levels: base SE, SXT, Crossroad, Crossroad Plus and GT. My tester was the Crossroad trim-level model. It featured upgraded 19-inch wheels, gloss black and chrome exterior trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, Bluetooth and satellite radio.

Overall, the Journey has had a relatively laid-back existence since its introduction in 2009. There have not been many changes, and this is especially obvious under the hood. The same two engines are offered that were there in 2009, and maybe the biggest question mark I have is: what’s with the four-speed transmission on the lower-level engine? Having said that — it all still works as an effective, efficient family transport.

The exterior of the Journey is still timely and inoffensive. Certain features, like the roof rack, aggressive crosshair grille and very cool “Ring of Fire” taillights give it an aggressive Dodge vibe, even though it’s a crossover. If you would like to add a little more attitude, check into adding a chrome/gloss black trim package; it’s a difference maker.

The Journey’s cabin has kept up with the times, and it must be judged with the price point in mind. Starting at $21,145, there are soft-touch, textured materials prevalent throughout, and I found the front- and second-row seating to be supportive and comfortable. The gauges and dashboard present as functional and contemporary. The Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment interface is one of my favorites, featuring intuitive menus and big typefaces.

Families will appreciate the selection of storage nooks nestled throughout the cabin, and those cubby holes in the floor are a huge reason to like this layout. Leg room is good in both main rows, and the optional integrated child booster seats are a real bonus. While the third-row seating may be tight, it is bundled with a separate rear air conditioner. Another plus is the 67.6 cubic feet of total cargo capacity when all the seats are lowered.

The Journey SE, SXT, Crossroad and Crossroad Plus come with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (173 horsepower) mated to a serviceable four-speed automatic transmission. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg combined (19 city/25 highway). An optional 3.6-liter V-6 is available. It’s good for 283 horsepower, and it is matched to a six-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is standard with the V-6 unless you get the GT, which offers either FWD or AWD.

Every 2017 Dodge Journey comes standard with anti-lock disc brakes, traction and stability control, active front head restraints, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. Integrated second-row child booster seats are optional. A rear-view camera and rear parking sensors are also available, but new tech like blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning are missing. The Journey received four out of five stars for overall crash protection.

On the whole, the entry point for a Dodge Journey is attractive. This is a bargain in the class as long as you are willing to live with some lesser tech features and a cramped row three.