Watchers of the auto industry will notice a theme among the formerly bankrupted American automakers, General Motors and Chrysler. There are the post-bankruptcy vehicles, and the pre-bankruptcy vehicles. The former, in the case of Chrysler, include the Jeep Grand Cherokee, as well as the 200 and 300. For GM, there's the Cadillac ATS, Chevrolet Impala and Buick Encore, among others. These vehicles have the freshest styling, with sharp exteriors and well-crafted interiors, as well as advanced powertrains and well-sorted chassis. As for the pre-bankruptcy vehicles, they tend to be easy to spot. Most suffer from inferior driving dynamics, cheaper interiors, poorer fuel economy and often homely looks (we know, there were some decent cars before the bankruptcy, but they were pretty heavily outweighed by the bad ones). Think late, last-generation Chevrolet Impala or Chrysler 200. Increasingly, though, we're seeing vehicles that split the balance between pre- and post-bankruptcy. Vehicles like the Dodge Journey. The Journey debuted in 2007 as a 2008 model year vehicle, meaning it should fall into the former category. But heavily breathed upon in 2011, it now enjoys a new, 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, a big, critically acclaimed touchscreen display and in the case of today's tester, a new-for-2014 Crossroad spec. So which is it? Is its pre-Fiat DNA too much to overcome, or is the Journey Crossroad the ugly duckling that became a less ugly duckling? Naturally, we had to find out. Driving Notes The Crossroad builds on the well-equipped success of the mid-level Journey SXT Plus, and includes Chrysler's excellent 8.4-inch UConnect infotainment system with Bluetooth and satellite radio, as well as dual-zone climate control. While the Crossroad doesn't add any new tech to the package, it butches up the looks of the mostly inconspicuous Journey body with off-road-inspired front and rear fascias that give the model more of a crossover look (the standard model can still look a lot like a minivan or wagon). That newfound attitude is furthered by the inclusion of 19-inch black-finish five-spoke wheels, dark chrome grille surrounds, smoked taillights and black headlight housings. The Crossroad's cabin includes leather seats with "sport mesh" inserts, while liquid graphite trim pieces add some flash to the plasticky cabin. While they're largely from the Chrysler parts bin, the addition of a leather-wrapped wheel and gearshift knob (both part of the Crossroad trim) help elevate the cabin to a somewhat more premium feel. Dodge offers a prehistoric 2.4-liter engine and four-speed automatic on the Journey, but we feel confident in saying you really don't want this. Instead, upgrade to the aforementioned 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 ($1,700 on the front-wheel-drive model, or $3,400 for the all-wheel-drive six-cylinder). This V6 sings to the tune of 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, which is plenty of grunt for the 4,238-pounder. Adding the Pentastar also adds a six-speed automatic. The downside of this package, though, is that you'll be netting mediocre fuel economy – the best the Pentastar/AWD Journey can hope for is a dismal 16 miles per gallon …
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|MPG||19 City / 26 Hwy|
|Power||173 @ 6000 rpm|
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