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DODGE Journey Review

OUR TEST CAR: Dodge Journey 2.0 CRD SXT

DODGE Journey  - Page - 2
Far from offering a kidney-punishing ride, the mildly lifted suspension of the Journey was one of the (very few) actual pleasant surprises. Taking into account this car is based on much smaller vehicles and weighs as much as a caravan, we were expecting for its handling to be compromising from the start, providing a very comfortable, plush ride. Oddly, this wasn't the case. No, the Journey isn't uncomfortable on rough roads, but this doesn't act like a taller Cadillac either. The suspension is firm but comfy, providing both a good feel of the road and enough cushioning. The driver's seating position is a small step above "horrific" though.

There was more than one time when we almost felt like bus drivers. The seat is kilometers high and from the side you might look like you're sitting on a scaled-down bar stall. Isn't it adjustable, you might ask? Why, yes it is, but if you choose its lowest position to sit like a normal driver and you weren't gifted with an above-average height you can't actually see over the dashboard very well.

Speaking of adjustable seats, we couldn't understand no matter how much we tried the reasoning behind the Dodge Journey's electric driver seat. There's an electric command for the seat to move forwards, backwards, upwards and downwards. And that's it. If you want to adjust your back rest you do it the old-fashioned way, by pulling a lever and choosing its position manually. In other words, the Journey 2.0 CRD SXT has a "hybrid" power/manual driver's seat, while the passenger one is fully manual. As for other comfort features, the Journey SXT is mildly spec'd, but above average in either sense. We would have praised an electrically controlled closing of the lift gate from everything else missing, though.

As we mentioned earlier, the two-liter diesel four-banger under the hood is of Volkswagen origin, but something must have happened to it along the long way from Germany to Mexico (ed, where the Journey is manufactured). First of all, it doesn't sound like the 2.0 TDI under any VAG Group vehicle, Common Rail or not. From outside the car it sounds like turbocharged farming equipment, while as a passenger you get the impression it ran out of oil and all you hear are metal parts moving against each other.

Technically a good engine from a number of reasons, including power, noise levels and fuel consumption, the two-liter oil-burner loses almost all its qualities once under the Journey's hood. It makes the car feel as underpowered as a wind-powered four-tonne truck and it sounds a lot worse than on its Volkswagen counterparts. The fuel economy is the only thing that remains impressive about it, with 10.5-11 liters of fuel per every 100 kilometers (US 21-22 mpg) in busy city-driving and an impressive 6-6.5 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (US 36-39 mpg) on the open road.

The six-speed double-clutch transmission made by Getrag is impressive enough mostly by making us think it was a regular old school torque converter automatic. And we're not talking about the time it takes to change gears, since that was faster than any hand-feet coordination ever. It was its smoothness, so unlike any other sequential transmission we've ever experienced. The Journey marks a premiere, since it's the first Dodge product to be provided with a double-clutch gearbox.

By far the greatest and also most evident quality of our Dodge Journey SXT test car was the interior and its habitability. Spacious enough to carry a family of five, their dog, their luggage and their luggage's luggage, the Journey almost feels like a rolling living room. A very cheap one, that is, but still, you get the point. The rear seats can be moved forwards and backwards on a 120 mm (4.7 inches) long rail, providing either an even bigger trunk or enough space for a boxing match between the rear passengers.

The poorly built, screws in plain sight and crappy plastics inside of the cockpit also seemed to lack a lot of features. This wasn't exactly the case, since scattered among the hard plastics we managed to find a dual climate control system and a very cool infotainment system with touch screen. Sadly, the car lacked a navigation system, but the audio system was above average. Its only obvious downside seemed to be its position, so low that only a midget could use it without taking his eyes off the road he can evidently not see anyway because of the moronically adjustable seat.

The touch-screen audio system has a built in hard disk, dvd and mp3 playing options with auxiliary input. The front seats were also electrically heated. Apart from these so-called "toys", the real surprise came when opening the echo-providing luggage compartment, which is split in three spaces, unlike the two spaces each regular hatchback vehicle has. On the left side on the interior wall there's a lantern which is powered by the vehicle's battery when put into place. It's almost meaningless when first thinking about it, but imagine going somewhere to camp in the woods and the only light source available are the car's headlights. The provided lantern is perfect for telling horror stories by the fire or filming your very own Blair Witch Project remake.

The Dodge Journey hasn't been tested by any crash testing organization in the world so far, so we cannot give a complete verdict about its safety. Still, considering the standard safety features on the SXT trim model we couldn't be other than optimistic.

Our test car had ABS, electronic stability program with traction control to take care of the active safety, while on the passive side there were two dual-stage front airbags, two front-side airbags and two head airbags to protect both the front and the rear passengers, which also include "Extended Up Time" deployment to provide head protection during rollovers and multiple impacts. If we also take into account the Journey is heavier and sits higher than most of the other four-wheeled traffic participants, this should be a pretty safe ride.

The nicest part about our Dodge Journey test car has to be its interior. No, we're not talking about the horrible plastic surfaces and the atrocious build quality, but about the habitability and overall ergonomics. You have enough storage spaces to hide almost anything that fits into a car. The rear seats move and adjust in almost endless configurations, making the whole interior of the car feel like a toy in itself.

We couldn't agree on the worst stuff about the Journey. Could it be its horrifying build quality, the hard surfaces of the dashboard, the whole cheap look of the cockpit? Or could it be the snail-like acceleration induced by the tiny diesel engine? Honestly, in a few at-the-limit overtakes we almost felt like instead of a diesel turbocharged four-banger under the hood we had the little engine that could. "I think I can pass this truck! I-think-I-can, I-think-I-can!" And it finally did, but at the cost of precious seconds.

The ugly part about the Journey is definitely the way it manages to enchant you on one side and totally disgust you on the other. You can turn the interior into a hide-and-seek playground (especially if you're the size of a chipmunk) but if you have any sense of beautiful you will absolutely detest it. It's full of rugged edges, ruff materials and everything moves and jiggles when it's not supposed to. The engine can keep you going for hundred of miles without refueling but with no power reserves and with a horrible soundtrack. In other words, the way this car wins points on something and then loses them on another is mind-boggling.
THE END
12
67user rating 29 votes
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autoevolution Mar 2009
54
History
5
Exterior
5
Interior
4
In the city
6
Open road
4
Comfort
5
Tech facts
6
Gadgets
6
Safety
7
Conclusion
6
67user rating 29 votes
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Guest Opinions

Sir May B. Bach

Listen guys , I don't like Dodge. I don't like... ahem... 'merican cars in general actually. Not that Dodge is a bad... ahem... car brand. Although come to think of it, its connection with the Al Bundy character from the "Married, with children" ... ahem series wasn't exactly doing it any favors.

Listen guys , I don't like Dodge. I don't like... ahem... 'merican cars in general actually. Not that Dodge is a bad... ahem... car brand. Although come to think of it, its connection with the Al Bundy character from the "Married with children" ... ahem series wasn't exactly doing it any favors.

The main problem in my part is the following: considering that Chrysler LLC could be months away from bankruptcy, buying an... ahem... Journey would sure as hell help them. And you know how I like kicking a man when he's down, instead of... ahem... giving him a hand.

Also, I know I probably shouldn't tell you this but I'm both a mason and a scientology follower, so I believe in higher powers. Have you even looked at Dodge's... ahem... badge? It's a goddamn satanic symbol! Don't tell me I'm the first one to... ahem... notice that the ram symbol looks like the "unholy one", come on!

Now imagine the Journey colored in black with a few red touches. Ahem... this could actually look plain scary parked in a dark alley. Almost like a modern version of Stephen King's ... ahem..."Christine".

That interior already looks like this is a car for a "Journey" to hell. What more of a reason do you need to believe that... ahem... this car is possessed? There's no way I could ever carry my pack of pet albino chinchillas with this thing. The poor little guys might die of... ahem... fear. And to think that's a tractor engine underneath that preposterous hood. Do I look like a farmer to you? I OWN farms AND farmers, you nincompoops! Take this ludicrous four-wheeled creation out of my sight!

Photo gallery (64)
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