2011 Dodge Journey

NAVATO, Calif. — To bastardize a famous title, for this Dodge it has been a long day’s journey into light. Not long ago we spent 1,500 miles behind the wheel of a 2010 Journey. It was spacious enough for our stuff, it averaged about 21 mpg, and it was relatively comfortable. But there was a problem.

The Journey had to work extemely hard while slogging through all those miles, much of it through the mountainous Sierra Nevada  just west of Yosemite National Park and how hard we had to work driving the machine that needed constant prodding. To say the heavily refreshed 2011 Journey as compared to the 2010 is like day to night would be an understatement. 

The new 283-horsepower Pentastar V-6 matched to a six-speed automatic, moves the new mid-sized crossover Journey with ease. There is an entry level (Express) 2.4-liter 174-horsepower, front drive that minimally better gas mileage in the EPA city cycle. The Express also carries some pretty good, basic standard equipment for those who need a five or seven passenger vehicle but find themselves on a limited budget.

Our choice however would be the energetic V-6, standard in a number of models that carry varying amounts of standard and optional equipment including front or all-wheel drive.  The list of goodies in each the Mainstreet, Crew, R/T and Lux seems unending and throw in four or five option packages and variety of choices could leave you scratching your head in wonderment.

The key to Journey no matter how you want to dress it is simple. A newly engineered suspension with an independent MacPherson strut and stabilizer bar in front and a rear isolated multi-link independent with stabilizer add immeasurably to the ride and handling.  The premium tires and the precise steering give excellent feedback and control to the driver as in comparison to the heavy lifting we had to do on the previous 2010 model. And that’s just half of it.

The basic sheet metal that carries over is very attractive, a new front fascia adds to Journey’s good looks and the all-new interior is just a knockout. Good looking, comfortable with everything easily assessable.

Chrysler’s excellent Uconnect communication and entertainment system is available in several configurations including a choice of four Uconnect Touch models with color screens up to 8.4-inches. The large navigation model includes a Garmin system integrated with Sirius’ Travel Link. We could read it without our spectacles; that in itself gives us good reason to consider the Journey.

Starting price for each model:  Dodge Journey Express: $22,245; Dodge Journey Mainstreet: $24,245; 
Dodge Journey Crew: $29,240; Dodge Journey R/T: $28,245; Dodge Journey Lux: $32,740. (All prices exclude $750 destination charge.)

— Ted Biederman