Reviews

2015 Dodge Journey Driving Impressions


The Dodge Journey is nondescript when it comes to road manners. Ride quality is generally good, with little pounding over bumps. The head sway normally associated with a high seating position is also minimal. Even with the available 19-inch wheels, the Journey does a good job of ironing out most jolts. But there are plenty of midsize crossovers and SUVs with similar ride characteristics.

While the high seating position affords a good view of the road, it seems to hurt the feel behind the wheel. This is not an off-road oriented SUV, and as such it seems that Dodge could have made it sit a bit lower, which would have made it feel more carlike. The way it’s engineered, however, means the Journey leans more in turns than other crossovers. The steering is light but predictable, and the brakes are easy to modulate.

Engines are comparable to the handling: capable but not as good as the best in the class. The base four-cylinder, Chrysler’s 173-horsepower 2.4-liter World Engine, is loud in the Journey and delivers too little power in this 3800-pound package. The four-cylinder will certainly get you and your kids around town, but passing will require some planning and it’s not rated for towing. With a 0-60 mph acceleration time somewhere between 11 and 12 seconds, a four-cylinder Journey is one of the slower vehicles in its class.

The 283-horsepower V6 is plenty modern, equipped with double overhead camshafts (that’s four cams) and four valves per cylinder. However, it seems hampered by transmission and throttle tuning.

Power is decent from a start, but the transmission shifts up as quickly as it can, meaning power is no longer readily on tap. It requires a deep stab at the throttle to coax a downshift, and you practically have to floor it to get a two-gear downshift needed for highway passing. The problem is exacerbated by numb throttle response. We also found that with front-wheel drive, those foot-to-the-floor blasts can cause some torque steer (felt as a slight tug on the steering wheel) that temporarily disrupts fine steering control.

On the positive side, the 3.6-liter engine should provide 0-60 mph runs in the high seven-second range. Towing capacity is 2500 pounds, but a Dodge Grand Caravan minivan with the same engine can tow 3600 pounds.

Fuel economy numbers are decent. With the four-cylinder engine, the Journey is EPA-rated at 19/26 mpg City/Highway. The V6 is rated at 17/25 mpg with front-wheel drive, and with AWD it’s rated 16/24 mpg.

Lacking low-range gearing, the all-wheel-drive system is mainly meant for slippery surfaces, not off-roading. In most conditions, it sends the power to the front wheels; but when more traction is needed, such as in wintry conditions, rain or on any slippery surface, it can send some of the power to the rear wheels. It can also aid handling, at least a bit. When traveling over 25 mph into a turn, the system sends power to the rear wheels to help the vehicle turn. It’s not as sophisticated as systems from Acura and BMW that send the power to the outside rear wheel in turns, but it’s a help.

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