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.