2011 Dodge Journey: First Drive

By Mike Hanley  on November 14, 2010

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The Dodge Journey arrived late to the crossover party with its debut as a 2009 model, but Dodge has already heavily revised it for 2011. Changes include a revised front end and an all-new interior along with a new V-6 engine option. The updates give shoppers more reasons to consider the Journey, but this crossover has some drawbacks.
 
One of my lasting driving impressions of the Journey is it rides well.

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The suspension soaks up bumps and at the same time limits body roll — even when driven quickly on winding mountain roads. The Journey stays fairly planted when cornering, but I noticed myself sliding off the softly cushioned leather seats; there wasn't enough side bolstering to keep me in place, and I'm not that big of a guy.
 
The Journey steers with a light touch, which makes it easy to maneuver. It's also precise, though there's not a lot of feedback, which isn't out of the ordinary for a midsize crossover.

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The Journey's all-new 283-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 — Chrysler's Pentastar V-6 — appears in many new Chrysler and Dodge models for 2011. In the all-wheel-drive Journey Crew, the V-6 feels adequate, with performance similar to a Honda Pilot but not as strong as the Nissan Murano’s V-6. The Journey’s six-speed automatic that teams with the V-6 can be hesitant to kick down when you need more power, too.
 
There's not much of a gas mileage penalty if you choose the V-6. Front-wheel-drive Journeys with the base 173-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder are rated at 19/25 mpg city/highway while V-6 versions get 17/25 mpg. The all-wheel-drive V-6 Journey gets 16/24 mpg. That estimate tops the all-wheel-drive Pilot's 16/22 mpg rating but trails the all-wheel-drive Ford Edge with the 3.5-liter V-6, which gets 18/26 mpg.
 
The Journey's brakes have an odd feel to them. Press down hard for a quick stop and the brakes engage more and more, but it seems like they're trailing the stopping power you want at a particular moment by a half second. It's not as linear as I would have hoped.

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One of the big changes to the Journey is its new interior. The cabin features higher-rent materials than the outgoing model, but some of the hard keys on the center control panel don't have the greatest feel.

Midlevel and higher trims come standard with Dodge's new Uconnect Touch 8.4. The system features an 8.4-inch touch-screen interface for various vehicle functions like air conditioning and audio, and it can incorporate a Garmin-based navigation system in 8.4N form. The big screen and simple interface make it easy to use, but it'd be nicer if the navigation graphics were more refined because they definitely have an aftermarket look to them.
 
The midsize crossover segment is an incredibly important one in the U.S., and the changes to the Journey have it headed in the right direction. However, for it to be viewed as one of the best in its class, more work needs to be done.


Senior Editor Mike Hanley is a father of three boys; he reviews new cars, admires classic cars and has embraced the minivan lifestyle.  Email Mike


2010 Los Angeles Auto Show