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2015 Dodge Journey: Family Hits and Misses

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The Dodge brand offers a lineup full of family-friendly vehicles from the brawny Durango three-row SUV to the grandfather of people-movers, the Grand Caravan minivan. In between is the 2015 Journey. The automaker calls it “the Swiss army knife of SUVs” since it offers a choice of front- or all-wheel drive, two powertrains and seating that accommodates five or seven passengers on two or three rows. Flexible? Yes. Family friendly? That answer is more complicated.

Related: Research the 2015 Dodge Journey

There’s a lot to like about the Journey, but the aging Dodge doesn’t get it quite right.

The Hits

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Optional integrated boosters: Anyone with kids knows that car seats are a must-have for at least eight (and sometimes longer) years. The Journey’s integrated boosters make the later car-seat stage easy. The backless booster pops up, quickly ready for use. The pair of second-row boosters is a $225 option on midlevel trims and up. Though that sounds steep compared to a $30 backless booster from Babies R Us, you’re paying for convenience. Integrated boosters make carpooling with extra kids safer and easier. They’re not for every kid, however, and can only be safely used with children weighing between 48 and 85 pounds; this is a higher minimum weight than many traditional boosters. Since my 5-year-old weighs around 40 pounds, she was unable to test the Journey’s.

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Optional third row: During my test of the Journey, the third row was a pleasant surprise. Although legroom is tight, I was able to carry a small adult and a child in a booster back there and everyone was fairly comfortable; the second-row slides forward to share the legroom. Getting to the third row was also surprisingly easy. A seat-mounted second-row lever collapses the seat bottom and slides the seatback forward, quickly creating an adult-sized opening. Unlike the Kia Sorento, the third row is available even on base models. It’s an extra $1,700 and part of the Flexible Seating Group that also includes extras like three-zone climate control and the easy-entry second-row feature.

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Small items storage: What you see is not what you get in terms of small items storage. Look closer to discover plenty of hidden storage spaces great for stashing emergency supplies like extra diapers and a change of clothes for baby as well as valuables you’d like to keep out of sight. The passenger seat cushion flips up to reveal a shallow storage well, and there’s also a pair of second-row in-floor storage bins. In front, a big uncovered bin sits in front of the shifter, sized right for devices. On the flip side, Dodge cheaped out with the seatback pockets; there’s only one of them. The center console is also small. It’s deep but not very wide, so forget stashing even a small purse there.

The Misses

Second-row sunshades: Many family vehicles offer second-row window sunshades that manually pull up. This feature may seem minor, but it’s a helpful convenience on long trips with napping kids and was missed in the Journey.

Third-row top tether anchor: There are no lower Latch anchors in the third row, which isn’t uncommon since they’re not federally mandated back there, but there’s also no top tether anchor, making it unsafe for forward-facing car seats. Tsk, tsk Dodge. Many competitors’ third rows have at least one top tether anchor and some even have a set of lower Latch anchors.

Can’t get captain’s chairs: Several competing family vehicles offer second-row captain’s chairs, which are often more comfortable than a bench seat and make getting to the third row easier thanks to the pathway in between. The Journey does not.

The Journey hasn’t received a major update in years. Will Dodge get the chance to woo more families with a new version? Unlikely. It’s one of the 10 cars that we predicted won’t see 2016, though Dodge hasn’t confirmed its fate. 

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