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2016 Dodge Journey Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: 2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad AWD V6 by russ.schubert

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Introduction

I completely understand that many people, especially 'car people', generally have a strongly negative view of the Dodge Journey. My impressions are that this stems from reviews of the initial vehicle released in 2009 that featured a lackluster interior and weaker V6, both issues significantly addressed in a 2011 update. The other strong contributor is that the four cylinder four speed automatic variants are not really competitive, offering none of the refinement, fuel mileage, or power of their competitors, but none of that applies in my opinion to the six cylinder model.
These older and 4 cylinder models seem to produce an anti-halo over the entire Journey model line, which unfairly seems to carryover to the far more competitive V6 models.

Reviewed: 2016 Dodge Journey

4dr SUV 283-horsepower 3.6L V6 6-speed shiftable automatic AWD

Why the 2016 Dodge Journey?

Driving position & visibility

Relative to other vehicles we test drove, most notably the 2016 Kia Sorento V6 AWD, my wife and I both preferred how the Journey (Crossroad plus AWD v6) drove and how it 'felt'. I went into the test drive with a very negative perception based on what I had read about the Journey but was very plesantly surprised, as was my wife. Our affinity for it was immediate. It felt distinctly more car-like and familiar than the more 'trucky' Sorento. For reference, we were replacing an '05 Mazda 3. Visibility to the side and front is great, though a bit challenged to the rear if the headrests the 2nd row are up, especially if the 3rd row headrests are up. This is a place where the Subaru Outback excelled vs. the Journey.

Feature availability

There are a couple of unique features that really sold the Journey to my wife and I that I simple didn't see on any other vehicle we considered:

  • 2nd row in floor storage bins - each bin is just big enough to fit a 12 pack of soda in. When closed, you'd never know these bins are there. Killer app is that the bins have a plastic insert you can remove so that if you store something dirty or wet in these bins, you don't have to worry about making a mess as you can easy clean them out afterwards.
  • 2nd row built-in booster seats - in both outboard seats, the seat cushion can be made to fold up into a booster. It not only eliminates the burden of having to carry one around all of the time, it also permits you to take a friend along without needing to worry about another carseat for them. When not acting as a booster, you'd have no idea the seats were equipped with this feature. Only other vehicle I'm aware of that has these is the Volvo XC70 which is considerably more expensive nor offers a 3rd row.
  • Fold flat front passenger seat - I suspect we've all made the occasional run to IKEA or Home Depot and needed to take home something awkwardly long. As the Journey's front passenger seat can fold flat in-line with a folded 2nd and 3rd row, you can easily take advantage of the full length of the interior.
  • Front seat passenger storage - The other trick the front passenger seat performs is that you can open it up to reveal a storage compartment within the seat itself. As with the other hidden storage areas, it doesn't compromise comfort or aesthetics.
  • 3rd row seat - Obviously not unique among SUVs, though it is fairly unique among SUVs of this size. While not a place I'd choose to spend a lot of time, it works great to take a larger group to dinner and save the trouble of needing to take two separate vehicles just because you have 5/6/7 people going. 3rd rows as tested during an auto show in the Nissan Rogue or Mitsubishi Outlander as noticably smaller and inferior. Kia Sorento's is noticably more accomodating, however.

Audio & nav systems

8.4" UConnect is as intuitive as these systems get and offers a usably large screen. Moreover, several climate and audio controls have redundant hard buttons on the dash allowing you to not need to interact for the basics if you don't want to.

Price or payments

Can't beat these on price / value after dealer discounts and factory incentives. With Kia updating the Sorento for 2016, it was about $3-4k more expensive than a similarily equipped Dodge Journey.

Powertrain performance

In my opinion, one of the best products coming out of Fiat-Chrysler is their 3.6 v6. Its in nearly everything they produce, so I feel like FCA has all the incentive in the world to make this engine as good as it can be. In the long term, I'd also prefer the durability of a basic fuel injected v6 vs. a direct injected turbocharged 4 banger, which seems to rapidly becoming the standard offering in this small / mid sized SUV segment.

Why Not the 2016 Dodge Journey?

Fuel economy

16 /24 in the AWD V6, 19 overall per the EPA. The city number is quite poor, though the highway number is competitive. We don't put all that many miles on our cars so it was something that we could more easily overlook, but if you've got a fairly long commute that isn't mostly on the highway, this might be a deal breaker.

Safety & braking

Due to the age of its design, it does not perform well in the small overlap test. Otherwise, it performs quite well in all other categories. This is a place where the Kia Sorento and Subaru Outback (our two main alternatives) do much better. Given that I was upgrading from an '05 Mazda 3, the improvement in the Journey is huge, but you should recognize other competitors do perform much better in the small overlap test.

Reliability & durability

I worry about this. Had another competitor offered effectively the same vehicle I probably wouldn't have purchased this vehicle. Never owned a mopar previously but don't have the warm fuzzies about them after hearing family and friend's personal experiences with them and reading truedelta's and consumer report's ratings. Fingers crossed that since this vehicle has been materially unchanged since the 2011 refresh FCA has figured out how to put these together well. Fingers crossed.

Towing

Just 2,500 lbs towing capacity for any model with the V6. Given that when the Journey launched with a less powerful V6 and smaller brakes it had a 3,500 lb towing capacity suggests to me potential transmission durability issues resulted in the downward revision in the ratings. Even the CVT equipped 4 cylinder Outback has a 2,700 lb towing capacity. If you're looking for a stout tow vehicle, the Journey isn't it.

Feature availability

As this vehicle dates to 2008, with a refresh in 2011, there are a couple of features simple not available from the Journey that many its competitors do offer, at least on higher end trims:

  • Panaramic sunroof
  • Full power seats (recline is manual on both front seats)
  • Cooled seats
  • Memory seats
  • Power tailgate
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Dynamic cruise control / automatic braking

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Response from Durhamite_Andy

1:53 pm July 26, 2016

This is a great, well-written review. I wish all the "regular-joe" user reviews here were this descriptive and honest.

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Response from scumbling1

5:37 pm August 19, 2016

I agree withDurhamite_Andy; awesome review! I particularly appreciated the list of features unique to the Journey; even professional reviewers seemed to miss a lot of that information.

Did you consider a Caravan (or some other minivan) while shopping?

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Response from Member206

11:05 pm August 19, 2016

No, but that's because we live in a condo and our parking space in our garage is pretty small. In that respect, the Journey is quite a bit smaller, especially in width (offset partially by the Caravan's sliding doors). If you can manage the larger vehicle size, and the potential stigma some associate with minivans, then it's a no-brainer to go for the Caravan. It's cheaper, far more functional, and MUCH bigger on the inside, with no penalty in fuel economy. AWD is another differentiator for the Journey, but in all of my experience in front drive vehicles, I find AWD to be more of a luxury than a necessity. If you do want a minivan with AWD, your only option is the Toyota Sienna.


Bottom line, the Caravan's size for us would have been a constant challenge and headache to park, so it got scratched off the list along will all of the other full-size minivans.

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Response from pvsinger

9:59 pm December 17, 2016

I have a 2015 Ram (Dodge) c/v (cargo van) parked on the street in front of my house, and have added a 2017 Dodge Journey SE (spelled "stripper") to our driveway. We traded a 2007 Ford Escape XLS for this when the transaxle started to fail at 146,000 miles (cost more to repair than trade-in value). So far, the Journey, even with the 4-cyl./4-sp. automatic combination, is proving to be a very nice upgrade over the Escape, which we bought new for about the same money 10 years ago. The Journey drives, handles, and stops great, just like the Escape. Plenty of power from the 4-cylinder motor. Nicer exterior than the Escape, as all panels, bumper covers, and handles are body-colored. Didn't have to pay extra for tinted windows, either. Only exterior "downgrade" was steel wheels over the 15" alloys on the Ford. Much more comfortable interior, more power ports, cupholders, better radio.


Vs. the Ram c/v, the Journey isn't as quick, and doesn't shift like the V6/6-sp. auto combo in the van. But the Journey is quieter, and handles better, although the Ram Caravan is no slouch in the handling department. So far I like the Kumho tires on the Journey, as they're quieter than any of the tires my employer has had installed on the work van (Firestone/Bridgestone/Primewell). I also find both to be equally easy to see out of and drive. Sure, there's more room in the c/v, but I usually drive the Journey with little or no load. Overall, I'm quite pleased with what I got for $20K. My salesman had to get the vehicle from a "sister" dealer - but it was worth it to get the price (and color, Olive Green) I wanted.

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Response from NormT

8:26 pm August 24, 2017

Nice to see this beating out the Kia Sorento V6 to your liking. If has always been on the back burner but quite a deal if you need the 3rd row.

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