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2017 Dodge Journey: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2017

The 2017 Dodge Journey is an exponential improvement over the crossover of the same name that debuted a decade ago. A thorough overhaul undertaken 7 years ago resulted in a substantial interior improvement, better driving manners and a competitive V6 engine. Its available 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen was and continues to be one of the best in the business.

However, despite being better than it once was, it's not too often that any vehicle that's been kicking around for 7 years (let alone a decade) without a stem-to-stern redesign can remain competitive. That's the case with the Journey. The base powertrain is a 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder that generates unpleasant noises and lackluster acceleration and is paired to an unrefined, efficiency-sapping 4-speed automatic transmission. Second, the Journey has less interior space than a Honda CR-V, despite boasting a third row of seats best suited for kids only. Third, it's lacking in the latest safety features and crashworthiness. And finally, that advanced age quite simply means the Journey's various newer competitors outdo it in most regards.

So although the Journey is a perfectly pleasant family vehicle you can likely get a good deal on, most other crossover SUVs will probably be more appealing.

What's New for 2017?

The R/T trim is now known as the GT. The V6 is also now standard with all-wheel drive, except on the GT.

What We Like

Affordable 3-row seating; clever under-floor and in-seat storage; user-friendly optional 8.4-in touchscreen.

What We Don't

Inadequate base powertrain; awful standard 4-speed automatic; comparatively snug cabin; so-so fuel economy; lacks latest safety features; subpar crash scores.

How Much?

$21,100-$33,800

Fuel Economy

Most Journey models come standard with a 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder rated at 173 horsepower and 166 lb-ft of torque, paired with standard front-wheel drive and a mediocre 4-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy estimates are 19 miles per gallon in the city, 25 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg in combined driving, which is poor given its meager output and mileage from competing power plants.

Standard on the GT and optional on all others is a 3.6-liter V6 good for 283 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. It has a 6-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is optional on the GT but standard on all other trims equipped with the V6. The V6's fuel economy lowers even further to 16 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined with all-wheel drive; front-wheel drive is essentially the same.

Standard Features & Options

The Journey is offered in five trim levels: the SE, SXT, Crossroad, Crossroad Plus and GT. All come standard with 3-row seating, with the exception of the SE, where it's optional.

The base-level SE ($21,100) includes 17-in steel wheels, roof rails, keyless start, dual-zone manual climate control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a sliding and reclining second-row seat, a 4.3-in touchscreen interface, a USB port and a 6-speaker stereo.

The SXT ($25,000) adds alloy wheels, the third-row seat, tri-zone climate control and LED taillights.

The Crossroad ($26,400) 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 ($27,600) adds leather upholstery, a power driver's seat, tri-zone automatic climate control, a CD/DVD player and the 8.4-in Uconnect touchscreen.

Topping the line is the GT ($31,900), which adds the V6 as standard equipment. It also includes remote ignition, automatic headlights, a sport-tuned suspension and steering, dual exhausts, upgraded leather upholstery, heated front seats and an improved audio system.

Options mainly include the features that come standard on higher trim levels, though the Journey also offers a 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 2017 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 like forward-collision warning, a blind spot monitoring system or lane-departure warning. Integrated second-row child booster seats are a rare option otherwise found only in much pricier Volvos.

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 too small and is far from the cutting edge of user friendliness. Thankfully, the Journey is available with Dodge's Uconnect 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 smaller than most others on the market. Only kids will be able to comfortably sit back there.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Dodge Grand Caravan -- Want way more interior space than the Journey while also maintaining a low price? The Grand Caravan is available in the same price range and offers a larger cabin and a standard V6.

2017 Kia Sorento -- The Sorento offers the same sort of in-betweener size as the Journey (including a third row) but is a substantially more modern and refined effort. It also comes with a 10-year warranty.

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander -- True, the Outlander isn't exactly a bastion of automotive excellence, either. But, it's a more modern choice than the Journey, with superior crash scores and safety equipment. It too has three seating rows and more budget-friendly pricing.

Used Dodge Durango -- The Durango touts a more spacious 3-row cabin, more distinctive styling, greater overall refinement and better resale value. Prices are higher, though, so you may have to consider a used model.

Autotrader's Advice

The sweet spot for the 2017 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 poor acceleration, mediocre fuel economy 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.
2017 Dodge Journey: New Car Review - Autotrader