Despite looking like a macho SUV, perhaps even a full-on 4×4, the Dodge Journey is actually a sensible people mover.
The Journey’s interior is very versatile; the second-row seats three and can slide backwards or forwards to juggle legroom for those in the rearmost seats.
Entry and egress to the third-row seats isn’t too bad, but as is usually the case those seats are better suited to kids as suppleness is required.
Also check foot-room in rear if larger littlies are going to be back there.
The second and third row seats each sit slightly higher than the ones in front to improve forward visibility.
There are plenty of stowage areas for various items, including two bins under the rear floor.
The backrest of the front passenger seat folds down leaving a work area for the driver.
Note that it’s two-wheel, front-wheel drive only, so shouldn’t be taken off the beaten track.
Dirt roads and forest trails are fine if you know what you’re doing, beaches are a definite no-no.
Americans love their minivans and Dodge Journey has been a big success on the other side of the Pacific, but generated only moderate sales after its arrival in August, 2008.
It was also sold here as the Fiat Freemont between 2013 and 2016.
Journey was updated in 2011 with a mild facelift, revised interior and some added equipment.
It was never popular in Australia the Journey ended when it was quietly taken off the market in 2017
Though it’s relatively large, the Dodge Journey is quite easy to drive as it’s more than the typical American minivan.
However, front-side visibility is hampered by large windscreen pillars that sit a long way forward of the driver’s seat.
A turning circle of almost 12 metres doesn’t assist manoeuvring in carparks.
Handling of the Journey is competent enough, for a people mover that is, and unless you do something really silly you aren’t likely to get into trouble.
Electronic Stability Program to assist in crash avoidance is standard in all Journeys.
Power is by either a V6 petrol or four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine.
The petrol unit in the original 2008 model had a capacity of 2.7 litres and had barely enough performance.
Try for yourself on hilly roads with a bunch of passengers on board if you’re likely to be travelling with that sort of load in those conditions.
From March, 2012 a far more suitable V6 petrol, now of 3.6 litres, improved things considerably.
Dodge Journey’s 2.0-litre diesel can be slow off the mark, but once it’s up and running it has good torque for overtaking and hill climbing.
At the same time as the 2012 introduction of the bigger petrol engine the Journey received a facelift and tail tuck as well as some interior updates, the latter including a new dash design.
The Journey has good under bonnet space and home mechanics can do a fair bit of their own work. Don’t touch the safety items, though.
Spare parts prices are about average. We have heard complaints about bits not being available and about long waits for parts coming from the USA.
It might be an idea to contact your local Dodge/Chrysler dealer to have a talk about this before committing to purchase.
These days Fiat and Chrysler operate together globally so Fiat dealers may be able to assist.
Insurance companies seem to look at the Dodge Journey as an SUV and charge accordingly. Having said that, costs are about average for that class.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The Dodge Journey is built in Mexico to a reasonably high standard.
It has a good paint finish and panel fit, but the interior and trim aren’t always as neat and accurate as in Japanese and Korean cars.
Look for damage to the carpets, seats and door trim for signs of either poor build or damage caused by unhappy children.
Also, have heard of water leaks so pull up the carpets to check the floor. You need to ask the seller if it’s okay to do this.
If they refuse, we suggest you walk away.
The petrol engines should start almost straight away. If not, there could be problems.
Diesel engines can take a few seconds to get up and running, especially when cold. A light lets you know when the engine has gone through its pre-heat stage.
Automatic transmissions should work smoothly and easily, but that in the diesel might be a bit recalcitrant at times at very slow speeds. Get a professional to check it if you have any doubt.
Brakes should pull you up in a straight line without wavering.
There should be no vibration in the brake pedal.
Uneven tyre wear may be caused by bad driving or a suspension problem. In either case it’s a good sign to keep clear of the car.
Budget on spending from $5000 to $9000 for a 2008 Dodge Journey V6 SXT; $6000 to $10,000 for a 2011 V6; $8000 to $12,000 for a 2010 CRD; $9000 to $14,000 for a 2014 V6 SXT; $10,000 to $16,000 for a 2015 V6 R/T ; $13,000 to $18,000 for a 2017 V6 R/T; $14,000 to $20,000 for a 2015 V6 R/T Blacktop; and $16,000 to $23,000 for a 2017 V6 R/T Blacktop.
CAR BUYING TIPS
People movers are usually driven sensibly, but some do get thrashed especially if the driver is running late during a multi-stop delivery of kids.
Make sure to have them inspected inside and out by a professional.
Take a friend with you when shopping for a used car.
That way they can keep the chattering sales person at bay while you check out the car without interruptions.