THE LAST JOURNEY IN OZ
IDEA SCORES BETTER THAN THE CAR ITSELF
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.