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2016 Dodge Journey: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader June 2016

When the Dodge Journey launched in 2008, it seemed compelling on account of its tidy size and clever interior, which had innovative under-floor storage and 7-passenger seating. Sadly, its plasticky interior and unremarkable performance prevented the boxy crossover from rising anywhere near the top with consumers.

But the 2016 Dodge Journey is majorly improved from that early model, largely thanks to the complete interior overhaul that the automaker gave the vehicle back in 2011, an update that also brought a suspension upgrade and a new optional V6. While its crossover styling looks conservative on the outside, the interior is improved, and the available 8.4-inch touchscreen is arguably one of the best in the business. Most importantly, the price is very competitive.

Demerits? Just two, though they're pretty significant. First, the base powertrain is a 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder that generates unpleasant noises and lackluster acceleration, especially because it's paired with an unrefined, efficiency-sapping 4-speed automatic transmission. Second, the Journey is a tad small compared with most crossovers that can hold so many people. And let's face it: Space is important when it comes to family cars.

Still, the Journey presents a compelling choice for some shoppers, especially with its excellent optional V6 and its bargain pricing.

What's New for 2016?

The Journey is unchanged for 2016.

What We Like

Affordable 3-row seating; clever under-floor and in-seat storage; stellar optional 8.4-in touchscreen; quality interior; strong optional V6

What We Don't

Inadequate base powertrain; awful standard 4-speed automatic; comparatively snug cabin; so-so fuel economy; lacking latest safety features

How Much?

$22,000-$32,800

Fuel Economy

Base-level Journey models are powered by a 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder rated at 173 horsepower and 166 lb-ft of torque, which is paired with a mediocre 4-speed automatic transmission. Opt for a mid- or high-level Journey model, and you'll get a 283-hp 3.6-liter V6 with a 6-speed automatic and 260 lb-ft of torque.

Front-wheel drive is mandatory with the 4-cylinder engine, but the V6 can be paired with either front- or all-wheel drive. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the 4-cylinder Journey at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, while the front-wheel-drive V6 is nearly as good at 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy. The all-wheel-drive V6 drops things a tick to 16 mpg city/24 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The Journey is offered in four trim levels: SE, SXT, Crossroad and Limited. The Crossroad model also offers a Crossroad Plus trim package. SXT, Crossroad and Limited models come standard with 3-row seating, and it's optional in the SE. The 3.6-liter V6 is only standard in the Limited and optional in the SE, SXT and Crossroad.

The base-level SE ($22,000) includes keyless access and ignition, a 4.3-in center touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, power accessories, 17-in steel wheels with hubcaps, a USB port and auxiliary audio jack for music, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel and heated mirrors. It also offers optional third-row seating and tri-zone climate control.

The SXT ($25,900) adds alloy wheels, the third-row seat, tri-zone climate control with automatic climate control for the front zones, LED taillights and body-colored exterior mirrors.

The Crossroad ($27,300) adds 19-in alloy wheels, enhanced exterior trim, satellite radio, a cargo net, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Crossroad Plus package ($28,400) adds leather upholstery, a power driver's seat, tri-zone automatic climate control and an 8.4-in center touchscreen.

Topping the line is the R/T ($32,800), which adds the V6 as standard equipment. It also includes a remote starter, sport-tuned suspension and steering, dual exhausts, heated front seats and an improved audio system.

Options mainly include standard features on higher trim levels, though the SUV also offers a power sunroof, a backup camera, parking sensors, a navigation system, a rear-seat DVD player and a Blacktop package with black wheels and other trim.

Safety

The 2016 Dodge Journey comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and seven airbags (front, front-side, driver's-knee and full-length side-curtain). Although a backup camera and parking sensors are optional, the Journey doesn't offer any other modern safety equipment, such as forward-collision warning, a blind spot monitoring system or lane-departure warning.

In crash testing conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Journey received an overall rating of four stars out of five, including four stars for frontal impacts, five stars for side impacts and four stars in the rollover test. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Journey its highest rating of Good in every category except the challenging small-overlap front crash test, where it earned a troubling Poor rating.

Behind the Wheel

The Journey's high driving position and angled steering column may bring school buses to mind. Fortunately, the Journey's dynamics are much better; this car-based crossover has no trouble navigating rutted roads and tight streets. Big enough to be useful yet not too big to be manageable, the Journey should strike many families as perfectly sized.

The standard 4.3-in touchscreen is unusual in a vehicle that starts in the low-$20,000 range. It's a premium feature that reminds us of Volkswagen's standard touchscreen stereos. But the big technology news in the Journey is the available 8.4-in touchscreen, which brings iPadlike crispness and ease of use to the driving experience. It's one of the best infotainment interfaces on the market, and we highly recommend it.

The Journey's front seats offer mediocre support, but they do sit you up nice and high, affording an expansive view of the road ahead. The steering column telescopes on all models, although those with long legs might still find the wheel too far away. There's still plenty of adult-friendly space in the Journey's second row, but the available third-row seat is better suited to kids (although that's true of any 3-row vehicle at this price other than a minivan).

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Kia Sorento -- The recently redesigned Sorento also offers a third seating row, and its powertrains serve up an appealing mix of fuel economy and power. It also comes with a 10-year warranty.

2016 Toyota RAV4 -- The slightly smaller RAV4 is a great choice thanks to its versatile cabin and vastly upgraded interior and exterior design. Powered only by an inline 4-cylinder engine, the RAV4 offers no available V6 as an upgrade and thus may turn off go-fast drivers. However, fuel economy is strong at 24 mpg city/31 mpg hwy for 2-wheel-drive models.

2016 Dodge Grand Caravan -- Want way more interior space than the Journey offers? The Grand Caravan is available in the same price range and offers a larger cabin and a standard V6.

Used Jeep Grand Cherokee -- If you like the Journey's size and equipment, consider the larger Jeep Grand Cherokee, which touts a bigger cabin, more distinctive styling and better resale value. Prices are higher, though, so you may have to consider a used model. And the Grand Cherokee doesn't offer a third row. For that, you'll have to look at Dodge's larger Durango.

Autotrader's Advice

The sweet spot for the 2016 Journey is the Crossroad Plus model, which offers the best value in the lineup. But we highly recommend opting for the V6, as the 4-cylinder engine offers mediocre performance and a truly terrible transmission.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Dodge Journey: New Car Review - Autotrader