Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Drive Way - Chris Ri­ley

JOUR­NEY is the last re­main­ing Dodge to be sold in Aus­tralia.

The rest have all fallen by the way­side. The Avenger, Cal­iber and Nitro: great names but per­haps not par­tic­u­larly good cars.

The Jour­ney con­tin­ues for the time be­ing, how­ever, maybe be­cause of its mus­cu­lar good looks or the fact that it is avail­able with seven seats, with an at­trac­tive price tag to match.

The Black­top (another great name) is a spe­cial edi­tion based on the top of the range R/T.

Although it is de­scribed as an SUV, our mod­els are front-wheel drive only and not de­signed to go off-road.

Priced from $38,500, the Black­top is $1000 more than the R/T but like other “black ops” mod­els from the com­pany, ap­pears to add lit­tle apart from black wheels and some black de­tail work.

Black touches in­clude the front fas­cia, head­light hous­ings, gloss black ex­te­rior mir­rors and the Dodge crosshair grille.

A 3.6-litre Pen­tas­tar petrol V6 is stan­dard and the only op­tion, with 206kW and 342Nm.

The V6 is paired with a sixspeed auto with man­ual shift mode, but no change ped­als.

Fuel con­sump­tion, a con­cern with any big ve­hi­cle that has a petrol en­gine, is a claimed 10.4 litres/100km.

We were sur­prised to find it could do bet­ter than this at 8.9 litres/100km af­ter more than 600km, but these were mainly mo­tor­way kilo­me­tres.

Be­fore mov­ing on, we should point out the third row of seats is in fact op­tional, even on this model, and adds $1500 to the price.

Bear in mind, how­ever, you can buy a Fiat Freemont Cross­road (es­sen­tially the same ve­hi­cle) for $36,500 with a third row in­clu­sive.

Ac­cess to the third row is made easy by tilt and slide sec­ond-row seats, while a hid­den in-floor bin be­hind the third row pro­vides ad­di­tional stor­age space.

Jour­ney has not been tested by Ancap and no safety rat­ing is avail­able.

Although it comes with a full com­ple­ment of safety equip­ment, in­clud­ing full length cur­tain airbags that pro­tect the third row of seats, we’d guess it is prob­a­bly a four-star car (Freemont gets four stars).

A rear view cam­era and rear park­ing sen­sors are also stan­dard.

Jour­ney looks and feels a gen­er­a­tion be­hind other stuff from Chrysler.

In ev­i­dence, we present the plas­tic air­con switches that sit be­low the com­puter screen.

They do not sit evenly and catch on each other when pushed.

Chrysler has done a lot of work to lift the qual­ity of its in­te­ri­ors and this is not rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

The six-speed auto also pales in com­par­i­son to the eight- and nine­speed sys­tems now on of­fer across the Jeep line-up.

In­stead of ped­als, it re­tains the old Daim­ler-Chrysler style side­ways flick to change up or down.

The dash is dom­i­nated by an 8.4-inch com­puter screen com­plete with satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion.

There’s also a pre­mium 368Watt au­dio sys­tem that adds a sub­woofer and an over­head 9-inch drop down video screen with wire­less head­phones for rear seat pas­sen­gers.

Auto lights and in­te­rior mir­ror are fit­ted, but the wipers are man­ual.

Hit­ting the road throt­tle, re­sponse is sharp and the brakes ag­gres­sive, but the trans­mis­sion tends to hunt.

Ride and han­dling is com­pe­tent but the ride can be harsh and will prob­a­bly im­prove with more pas­sen­gers aboard.

You can dis­play speed dig­i­tally, but nav­i­gat­ing the cen­tral in­for­ma­tion panel is con­vo­luted.

The cabin fea­tures leather and tri-zone airconditioning, with sep­a­rate con­trols for drive, pas­sen­ger and rear seat pas­sen­gers.

The leather seats are large and com­fort­able in a lounge room kind of way, heated at the front with elec­tric lum­bar ad­just­ment for the driver, but fore and aft ad­just­ment must be done man­u­ally.

Also, there’s no driver’s footrest.

The sec­ond row seats re­cline and fold flat for more cargo space, while the third row seats are small with lim­ited legroom and de­signed pri­mar­ily for chil­dren.

By the way, the sec­ond row fea­tures built-in child booster seats that fold out like those in Volvos.

The boot is well lit at night by a light that shines from the raised tailgate and a small de­tach­able torch is also pro­vided.

Ver­dict: We like the idea of this car more than the car it­self.

The Black­top is a spe­cial edi­tion of Dodge’s Jour­ney.

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