$38,350 – $43,850
Good: Contemporary SUV like styling; intelligently designed interior is great for hauling people; generous and clever storage options; high levels of standard features; value for money pricing.
Not so Good: Cabin lacking in premium feel (blame a level of refinement and quality still half a notch behind the Japanese); petrol V6 is a weak point (the turbo diesel is a better choice).
Design and Engineering
Good : Dodge’s part wagon, part SUV, part People Mover arrived Down Under in September 2008, however was last updated with added features in March 2010. The bluff front end, higher than usual body height (for a People Mover) and oversized wheel arches ensures the Journey looks different to the typical ‘one box’ styled People Mover and for Aussie tastes this is a winning move (one look at SUV versus People Mover sales will attest to). We’ve segmented the Journey as a People Mover, however most SUV’s mainly stick to the tarmac so they also apply in comparison here. A manageable vehicle length also ensures the Journey is easier to park than a number of longer People Movers.
Not so good : 4×4 types shouldn’t be fooled by the styling, underneath is a modern car based front wheel drive platform (however this is more of an advantage than disadvantage for the majority of Australians, who would rarely head off-road, as 4WD transfer cases and rugged vehicle platforms add significant weight to a vehicle).
Interior and Styling
Good : Steering wheel adjusts for both reach and rake, is leather-wrapped and features audio controls (in all grades); the upper dash features soft to touch plastics and the general Fit AND finish is an improvement over previous Dodge models; standard three zone air-conditioning and second and third row passengers have access to their own air-conditioning controls and roof mounted vents. Excellent storage options – the front passenger seat features a storage bin under the squab (the under bum & thigh part), large drink bins are positioned in the floor behind the front row seats (under a carpet cover) and the liners are easily removed when required to wash. Clever seating – the second row is definitely adult friendly (the middle seat folding down to provide extra cupholders and a storage tray), third row access is made easy by a one touch flip forward function on the second row seats and whilst the third row will hold adults really they are better suited to children. Luckily the second row seats feature a slide function so legroom can be changed between these rows. Additionally the second row seats are set higher than the front row, as is the third row over the second row, resulting in impressive cinema like visibility for all passengers. Cargo capacity is maximised by both second and three seats that fold flat into the floor and the front passenger seat also folds semi flat (necessary when carrying extra long loads?!).
Not so good : Whilst the interior features modern touches such as soft-touch plastics on the dash, the overall feeling inside is more functional than premium. The big front seats would benefit from more (or some!?) side bolster support. Yes, with the third rows seats folded flat into the floor the amount of rear cargo space is huge, however with six passengers aboard it becomes only average.
Good : The SXT grade is only available with the 2.7-litre petrol and considering this is a V6 (and not a four cylinder) the performance on paper is nothing special (136kW). However luckily the Journey is no bloated whale (it weighs just over 1700kg) so the performance on offer will be o.k. for most users. The upper spec R/T grade is available with the former mentioned V6 or a modern 2.0-litre four cylinder turbo diesel. It’s matched to a 6 speed dual-clutch automated manual (the V6 is matched to a traditional style 6 speed auto), ensuring excellent fuel economy for a seven seat vehicle and is definitely the pick of the two engines on offer. This diesel is relatively refined and impressively quiet at highway speeds. All Journey’s come standard with cruise control.
Not so good : The petrol V6 lacks torque (256Nm), is noisy when pushed and yet never feels quick; the turbo-diesel engine (sourced from Volkswagen) is noisy at idle (or does the Journey require more sound deadening material?!) and on the move suffers form turbo lag.
Ride and Handling
Good : Predictable, safe handling (compared with the average People Mover its good). Ride in general is comfortable – thank the well damped suspension.
Not so good : Lacks true driver appeal (however this is unlikely a key People Mover buying point); the ride and handling deteriorates over rougher surfaces; a little too much body roll on offer and the semi lifeless steering ensures the Journey can’t match the segment best in the handling stakes (i.e. Honda Odyssey).
Buying and Owning
Good : The R/T CRD grade (the Turbo Diesel option) is the most fuel efficient ‘full size’ (so excluding the size smaller offerings) People Mover in Australia (and by a significant margin too). High levels of standard features – including standard climate control air-conditioning on the SXT grades and heated, leather seats on the R/T grade. The seats are covered with a stain-resistant material (extra useful in a People Mover). Ticks the safety box with standard Electronic Stability Control, Anti-lock brakes and six airbags. The March 2010 update includes active front head restraints and a tyre pressure monitoring system comes standard.
Not so good : Rear parking sensors are an optional cost, as is the more expensive again rear-view camera.