Chrysler, across its various product groups, has been aggressively returning to the market with excellently styled vehicles, strong and capable power trains, comfortable and well designed interiors, state of the art technology and innovative customer features that are making them, once again, “Best in Class” across several brands and models.
In 2011, Dodge stands out in several categories including Mid Size SUV’s with the improved and upgraded Journey 5-7 passenger mid size SUV. Dodge Journey, for 2011, comes in four models from Express FWD (starting at $22,245) to Mainstreet AWD ($24,445) to Crew / RT AWD ($30,145) and the top of the line Lux AWD ($33,465).
We road trip tested a 2011 Journey Crew AWD over the long Labor Day weekend, driving about 2,350 miles from Austin, Texas to Chicago and back over seven days. The trip included long highway, expressway stretches with city and rural driving around Chicago and Austin. The varied type of driving conditions allowed us to see clearly just how good this 7 passenger family cross over SUV really is. It did not disappoint us, and in fact surprised us in key areas of comfort, technology and mileage.
The unit we tested was in Bright Silver Metallic Clear Coat with black interior and premium cloth low back bucket seats. Its power train included the upgraded 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine generating 283 hp coupled excellently to the 6 speed automatic 62TE transmission. The base price was $30,940. The Crew comes with 19X7 wheels and tires and but this unit had the LUX aluminum chrome clad wheels in place of the satin silver painted aluminum ($500). Other optional equipment included one of the Navigation & Sound Groups available with Garmin Navigation, universal garage door opener, Uconnect Touch CD/DVD/MP3 with 8.4 inch high resolution screen, ParkSense rear park assist system and ParkView rear back-up camera ($995) plus Second Row seats with two Pop-Up Child Booster seats ($225). Delivered with freight, $33,410.
The base package for a Dodge Journey Crew AWD includes all of the features you would expect in either a good SUV or a Family van – all in one well crafted 7 passenger vehicle. The ride is nimble yet powerfully solid – handling well in all driving conditions due to the improved suspensions and careful integration of the AWD system with the power train. This is a fun drive as evidenced by my reluctance to “surrender” the driving to my partner even after 6-7 hours on the road.
Features of the interior include best in class capacity with innovations including Tilt’nSlide action for both sides of the second row to allow access to the third row, integrated child booster seats in the second row, Flip’nStow compartments under the seat cushions, stadium seating in second and third rows, in floor storage bins with washable liners on both sides of the second row, four 12-volt power points, USB ports, 115V 150W power inverter, remote start, illuminated cup holders and a removable rechargeable LED flashlight in side wall adjacent to the back hatch. We tested the 7 passenger capability in a family outing to Chinatown in Chicago (4 adults and 3 children under 8) and found it met our need and expectations.
As for the road trip, the seats are comfortable and leg room is both long and wide in the driver cockpit. All of the necessary command and control elements for safe and comfortable driving are well within reach, well marked and easy to operate. The well designed one-piece instrument panel serves to set the tone. The Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC) is well positioned in the center of the instrument gauge clusters. It is well lit and has high resolution that is back lit in Dodge red lights. It is simple and easy to use intuitively. The new multi function three spoke steering wheel with integrated controls allow you to access the EVIC without losing sight of the road. Of particular note, was the integration with the Garmin Navigation system and 8.4 inch screen in the Uconnect Touch command center at the top of the stack. As the navigation approaches a turn or other change, it shows it as you would expect on the big screen. And, it also gives you a simple clear picture of the change you need to execute on the small EVIC screen in front of you. This allows you to keep your eyes on the road and still take advantage of the navigation change instructions. This was a tremendous feature both on the highway and in the city that worked perfectly all the time.
Did I mention mileage? The official rating for this Dodge Journey Crew AWD is 16 MPG City and 24 MPG Highway. We logged our fuel and mileage carefully checking it against the calculator in the Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC). On the highway segments we achieved 26.1 MPG. City segments averaged 19.7 MPG. Combined for the trip, the average was 25.3 MPG. With the 21.1 gallon tank, the Journey Crew has a range of over 500 miles.
The 2011 Dodge Journey has received several awards including being a IIHS “Top Safety Pick” and the Pentastar V-6 engine is recognized as one of Wards “10 Best Engines” for 2011. The Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) named it the 2011 “Family Car of Texas” at their annual Spring Roundup after more than 50 automotive journalists were able to drive it and other competing vehicles over a two day period at the Texas Motor Speedway.
If you are looking for a true family car that can handle up to 7 passengers and are struggling between an SUV and a van, take a look at the Dodge Journey. For 2012, Dodge is adding a fifth level of trim vehicle and adjusting pricing and options to provide more Journey in 2012 for less money for same features. Go see your Dodge dealer for a test drive. Bring the kids along to check it out and. See Nyle Maxwell Dodge or Southpoint Dodge in Austin.