DRIV­ING

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive Dodge Journey - Go to www.cars­guide.com.au to see even more on the Dodge Jour­ney.

FIRST, the de­sign­ers re­spon­si­ble for the Jour­ney should take a bow. It doesn’t look like a cum­ber­some off-roader or a bland peo­ple-mover.

Dodge has man­aged to find some mid­dle ground and de­liver a har­mo­nious de­sign that makes the wagon look smaller than it re­ally is. This should please buy­ers.

The cabin is a step up for a Chrysler. In the past al­most ev­ery Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep we have driven has been let down by in­te­ri­ors of be­lowa­v­er­age qual­ity that lacked pleas­ant tac­tile sen­sa­tion.

The av­er­age-looking, hardedge plas­tic in­te­ri­ors and er­gonom­i­cally poor dash lay­outs looked cheap and low­bud­get.

But the Jour­ney is some­thing of a rev­e­la­tion.

It has soft-touch plas­tics on the up­per dash­board, the in­stru­ments are leg­i­ble and log­i­cal, the steer­ing wheel is reach and height-ad­justable, and the big tail­gate is made of com­pos­ite ma­te­ri­als, mak­ing it light and easy to open and close.

De­spite the qual­ity look and feel of the Voy­ager there are still some mi­nor nig­gles.

The front seats are flat and un­sup­port­ive and the steer­ing is vague and over-as­sisted in that loafy Amer­i­can way.

On the road, though, the car is quiet, well-damped and well-be­haved.

The sus­pen­sion is well­con­trolled, rea­son­ably com­pli­ant and iso­lates the worst bumps.

When you get up enough pace there is some un­der­steer — the ten­dency to push wide go­ing through cor­ners — but the car’s over­all han­dling is quite be­nign.

The Jour­ney is avail­able with a rear-view cam­era and rear park­ing sen­sors. How­ever, the cam­era comes only if you spec­ify the $3250 MyGIG en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem, and the rear park­ing sen­sors are an ex­tra $400.

In a fam­ily-ori­ented ve­hi­cle, hav­ing to pay for such nec­es­sary safety de­vices seems a bit steep.

Of the en­gines, we pre­fer the low-down torque of the CRD.

How­ever, the Jour­ney tips the scales at more than 1700kg, so nei­ther the V6 nor 2.0-litre CRD are stand­outs when it comes to ac­cel­er­a­tion or over­tak­ing. Both en­gines have to be stirred along to de­liver their best.

The gear­boxes, how­ever, are smooth and well mated to each en­gine. The DSG shift in the CRD is par­tic­u­larly smooth and re­spon­sive.

Chrysler’s Gerry Jenk­ins be­lieves the com­pany can sell about 100 a month and, with a fru­gal diesel avail­able, the Jour­ney should give its key ri­vals a run for their money.

In­cred­i­ble Jour­ney: the Dodge Jour­ney SXT looks smaller than it is.

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