As more automakers try to appeal to crossover enthusiasts, we’ve seen some strange marriages between cars and SUV’s. The new 2009 Dodge Journey is an appealing little cross over that may make many buyers want to make the switch. It is being marketed as a “transition” vehicle for those who may really need a mini-van but just don’t want to call it that. Honesty may be the best policy, but this may not be the best way to market this sporty little entrant.
The profile of the Journey has been compared to the Dodge Avenger, just a little stretched out, and that pretty much sums it up. It’s a little bit square and looks very much like a sporty mini-van, which may or may not work in its favor. While the exterior may not inspire, the interior sure steps up to the plate with some extra features.
The seats are very much like theater seating and designed with children in mind. The windows are positioned low enough for even little kids to peer out of, which parents may or may not appreciate. A third row “emergency” seat is available on most models, while the second row seats offer little booster seats for the kids. Parents however aren’t overlooked. This model offers Bluetooth connectivity, a nice telescoping wheel and a double level glove box.
The voice activated MyGIG system is highly recommended. This little “infotainment” section is useful but could be improved. One thing that really was overlooked was the placement of the radio, which requires the driver to contort in order to read the screen. Considering that it’s at knee level, this could actually be quite dangerous.
Parents will really appreciate the next feature, under floor storage bins that can be used to keep snacks, pop and goodies cool. This is a unique feature will appeal to many, and can even be used to store other items for those who may not have kids that need constant entertainment and snacks to keep from driving the adults in the car insane.
The six speed automatic offers manu-matic control and produces around 235 hp. This should be just enough to navigate nasty parking lots and car pool lanes. This heavier model can actually pull a 3500 lb trailer, which may make the vehicle more appealing to those looking to go on vacation but not spend an arm and a leg on gas. The SE model gets around 16/23 mpg, while the all wheel drive flavor clocks in at 15/22 mpg.
This model starts out at $19k, which seems pretty competitive until you start adding options. By the time you’re done, this relatively cheap crossover has been transformed into a $35k monster. This moves the Journey into a whole other class where it really can’t compete. Whether or not there are consumers ready to make the transition to this crossover remains to be seen, but the initial reaction seems to be good. If Dodge can continue improving the model in the upcoming years, and possibly lower the price of the loaded model, they should do quite well.