2009 Journey New Car Test Drive
The crossover SUV market is growing by leaps and bounds. While Chrysler Corporation has had an offering in this segment since 2004 in the form of the Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge has never had a car-based crossover. Now Dodge is entering that segment with the Journey, an all-new midsize crossover with seating for up to seven, four-cylinder or V6 power, and minivan-like utility.
Crossovers are built on a car-like structure but combine the utility of a traditional truck-based SUV with the smoother ride and improved fuel economy of a car.
Dodge hasn't chosen the sporty path for Journey. The Journey rides reasonably well and handles more like a big car than a big, clunky SUV, but it's no Nissan Murano when it comes to sporty flair.
The Dodge Journey is available with a V6 engine that delivers adequate power but is far from the best in the class. The V6, which is standard in all but the base model, offers plenty of power for around town, a 3500-pound towing capacity, and decent passing punch. Unfortunately, it is neither as refined nor as powerful as the newer V6s offered by several competitors. The base four-cylinder engine is coarse and offers too little power for a vehicle of this size.
It's on the inside that the Journey really shines. The Dodge Journey has standard seating for five, but that can be expanded to seven. Filling the Journey with adults won't make all your passengers happy, but the rear seat should work well for children.
The better news is the utility the Journey offers. While cargo room is only average for the class, the Journey offers a fold flat front passenger seat that will allow loading items up to nine feet long. It also has several unique storage solutions that owners will find useful. These include a bin under the front passenger seat, storage under the floor in the second row and behind the last row of seats, a dual glove box with Dodge's Chill Zone that cools soda cans, and all the usual cubbies up front, including a fairly deep center console. Entertainment options are plentiful, too, as the Journey has a six-disc CD changer standard and offers a hard drive radio and a rear DVD entertainment system.
With prices starting under $20,000, the Journey offers affordable utility. We'd recommend a Journey equipped with the V6, which provides the power that most buyers will want. While the SXT is the value leader, the R/T has a few appealing interior and exterior touches. Be careful when it comes to options, though, as it is possible to get the Journey over $30,000, where it will have to compete against more refined SUVs.
The 2009 Dodge Journey is offered in three trim levels: SE, SXT and R/T. The SE is exclusively front-wheel drive (FWD), while the SXT and R/T models are offered with FWD or all-wheel drive. The SE model comes with Dodge's 173-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. The SXT and R/T models use Chrysler's 3.5-liter V6. It makes 235 horsepower in the Journey and it puts its power to the wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission with Dodge's AutoStick manual shiftgate.
Standard features on the SE ($19,360) model include cloth upholstery; air conditioning; Chill Zone beverage storage bin; AM/FM six-disc CD/DVD/MP3 compatible radio with six speakers; power windows, power heated exterior mirrors; manual day/night rearview mirror; tilt/telescoping steering column; driver's seat height adjustment; second-row reclining 60/40 seat; and P225/70R16 all season tires on steel wheels.
Options include Sirius satellite radio ($195); an engine block heater ($40); fog lights with aluminum wheels ($495); the SE Family Value Group ($395) with manual driver's seat lumbar adjustment, two second-row child booster seats, daytime-running lights, and YES Essentials upholstery designed to be stain, odor and static resistant; and a Popular Equipment Group ($1,395) with floor mats, a cargo compartment cover, an overhead console with conversation mirror, illuminated vanity mirrors, remote keyless entry, interior air filter, roof rack, security alarm, cruise control, and four passenger assist handles. A Rear Seat Video Group ($1,195) includes an eight-inch video screen, wireless headphones and video remote control, six premium speakers with subwoofer and 368-watt amplifier. The Premium Speaker Group ($495) adds six premium speakers with a subwoofer and a 368-watt amplifier. And the Safe and Sound Group ($695) has Dodge's MyGIG Multimedia Entertainment System and a rearview camera.
The SXT ($22,360) adds cruise control; remote keyless entry; Sirius satellite radio with one-year subscription; YES Essentials cloth upholstery, power six-way adjustable driver seat, fold-flat front passenger seat with Flip 'n Stow in-seat storage, conversation mirror, portable LED flashlight, cargo net, floor mats, trip computer with temperature and compass display, auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic headlights, a touring suspension, and P225/60R17 all-season touring tires on aluminum wheels. The SXT AWD ($24,905) also gets performance steering, performance suspension, fog lamps, and P225/55R19 tires on aluminum wheels.
Options start with the SXT Flexible Seating Group ($995), which includes a third-row 50/50 folding/reclining seat, second-row 60/40 Tilt 'n Slide rear seat, and three-zone temperature control (including the rear). The SXT Exterior Appearance Package ($795) adds fog lamps, P225/55R19 all-season touring tires, aluminum wheels, and performance steering and suspension. Convenience Group I ($695) includes a cargo compartment cover on five-passenger vehicles, interior air filter, driver and front passenger lower LED lamps, front and rear aimable LED lamps, a roof rack, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and a universal garage door opener. The Chrome Appearance Group ($1,420), which is available for only the FWD SXT, includes 19-inch chrome-clad wheels, fog lamps, and performance steering and suspension. Included in Entertainment Group II ($2,495) are six premium speakers with subwoofer and 368-watt amplifier, a navigation system with 7-inch screen, Dodge's MyGIG Multimedia Infotainment System, Dodge's UConnect hands-free cell phone link, and a rearview camera. The Premium Convenience Group ($895) has dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, UConnect, and remote engine starting. Other options consist of a sunroof ($795) and a Trailer Tow Group ($130) with an engine oil cooler, the performance suspension, and four-pin connector.