Getting along with the 2013 Dodge Journey means being able to compromise, says Cars.com reviewer Aaron Bragman. The crossover hasn't seen much exterior updating since its 2009 introduction, but its looks have held up well. Its fuel economy lags behind competitors, but it's thousands of dollars cheaper in some cases while offering significantly more standard features. Legroom could be better but cargo space is competitive. If you're OK with giving a little, Bragman says, you might find that the Journey gives a lot back.
After more than 2,500 miles, the votes are in and tabulated. My wife and I, along with our three kids, have finished our 15 days on the road, going from Chicago to Rochester, N.Y., then Gettysburg, Pa.; Washington, D.C.; Burlington, N.C.; and home again. We made the journey in four three-row SUVs, including a Ford Flex, Dodge Journey, Mazda CX-9 and Honda Pilot, and each was as idiosyncratic as my kids.
First, we'll take a look at the stats from our trip, which seems a lot longer on paper than it did in person:
Now, here’s how each of the cars fared in different categories:
OK, with Leg 2 of the four-leg vacation done, we’re halfway through the trip and have just finished up with the Dodge Journey. We didn’t drive nearly as far as we did in the Ford Flex, and, overall, fared a little better on mileage. Here’s the damage for Leg 2:
The Journey’s mileage was not terribly different from our first car, the Ford Flex. Some noticeable differences: The Journey accelerated much more quickly, drove like a lighter car (at least until I loaded it up), and it liked to coast at higher speeds than the Flex did.
Whenever I’ve got a new car and want to surprise the kids, I get them to try out one of the features that I think are cool in order to see what kind of reaction I get. This is a transcript of one of those moments. It may not be word-for-word, but it’s close.
Suburban Dad to 15-Year-Old: Hey, check out that latch on the floor by your feet.
15-Year-Old: I’m not kicking your seat.
The Wife, after looking back over her left shoulder: He’s not kicking your seat!
Suburban Dad: No, no, take a look at the latch on the floor by your feet.
15-Year-Old: Yeah, what about it?
Suburban Dad: Try lifting it up and see what’s underneath it!
15-Year-Old: Hold on. (Pause) Owww!
Suburban Dad: What’s the matter?
15-Year-Old: Leg cramp!
Suddenly, a painful throbbing noise fills the car. The left rear window has gone down, and because it’s the only window down, it’s creating a horrible pressure in all of our ears.
Whole Family: Aaahh! That hurts! What is that! Close that window!
15-Year-Old: I’m trying!
(He finally gets window closed.)
15-Year-Old, laughing: When I laid down my arm on the armrest, the window opened up.
This is something to keep in mind if you get the Journey: the lock-windows button just behind the driver’s seat window switches may turn out to be your best friend. And don’t spring new features on kids while you’re driving.
When you leave one car and get into another, it’s impossible to not judge the second one against the first. In the case of a 2009 Dodge Journey on the heels of a 2009 Ford Flex, that’s a bit of an unfair comparison: The Flex is larger, has more options and just feels more affluent. Of course, that’s because it is. It costs roughly 10 grand more than the Journey.
Entertainment is a key concern when you’re on the road for as long as we’ve been on this vacation. The Journey’s system helped keep everyone entertained, but not quite in the way I’d hoped — my kids were amused with my inability to handle the Journey’s joystick-managed nav system. If we’ve said it once at Cars.com, we’ve said it a million times: No more joysticks with nav systems! We definitely prefer the touch-screen approach, and I’m personally very much in love with the Flex’s voice-activated nav system, despite the flaws that come with being a new system.
Leg 1 of our vacation is over. The Ford Flex has been picked up, and a brand-new 2009 Dodge Journey has taken its place. We don't hit the road for another day, but one feature has already gotten some attention.
One of the advantages of testing cars while on a family vacation is that you can tap into the different life situations of your relatives, in my case my in-laws. I asked one of my wife's cousins, who has three kids (7, 5 and 3) to take a look at the just-dropped-off Dodge Journey's built-in booster seats.
This cousin spends a lot of her driving time carrying around booster seats, switching them from car to car when necessary, trying to remember them when she needs to, trying not to leave them behind when spending more than a day at one location.
She was impressed with the Journey's built-in boosters. "They're very easy to use," she noted, pulling on the strap and sliding the booster seat up and into place with only a motion or two. "This would be a lot easier than hauling around my boosters."
But she noticed something about the boosters that I hadn't: When the seat moves up and into position as a booster, the kid's legs dangle below that shelf — how much depends on how tall the child is. Those legs can then bang against a thinly covered edge; that worried my wife's cousin.
High gas prices are here at the same time almost every automaker is rolling out a highly visible crossover. While they get better fuel economy than truck-based SUVs, they’re no econobox. The editors at Cars.com took on two all-new models — the 2009 Dodge Journey and 2009 Honda Pilot — and pitted them against the 2008 Toyota Highlander, which was redesigned last year. These three models are strictly for families, and we decide which is the best and which is the best value. Check out the winner and let us know what you think of our decision in the comments below.
This is not good news for Chrysler and its Dodge brand. Its most successful recent launch, the Dodge Journey crossover is being recalled due to a faulty wire harness that can lead to electrical malfunctions.
Chrysler is recalling 6,692 of the V-6 equipped 2009 Journey crossovers. The harness can rub against the transaxle mount, possibly leading to numerous electrical problems. The company says there have been no injuries or accidents reported related to the recall. If you own a four-cylinder version of the Journey, it is not part of the recall.
Owners will be notified as early as this month. Inspections and repairs will be conducted at no cost.
Chrysler recalls 6,692 Dodge Journeys (Reuters)
I had the tough task of reviewing Dodge’s new crossover, the 2009 Journey. Why was it so hard? Well, for one, this thing crosses over a lot of segments for a single vehicle. Due to its low introductory price and available third row, it can compete with everything from a Chevy Equinox to a Toyota Highlander. There was a lot to like about the Journey, but I also had quite a few gripes, too. Check out the full review with video to find out more about Dodge’s all-new Journey.
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