Dodge Journey pleasantly surprises first-time Journey driver

By Peter Hubbard

(May 24, 2017) In the interest of full disclosure, my week behind the wheel of the 2017 Dodge Journey Crossroad Plus AWD recently was my first time behind the wheel of this Dodge entry in the compact crossover class — ever.  

Sure, it HAS been on the market for eight, going on nine years now, and we should have taken at least a short journey in the Journey. 

But we have a valid excuse for not doing so.  For the past 15 years or so your humble scribe had been exiled to “Truckville USA,” and was busy reviewing mainly trucks, SUVS and various aftermarket accessories.  

So you’ll understand my delight in encountering this very competent crossover with a base price below $30,000 ($29,795 to be exact) that was loaded with features, including a third-row seat which allows seating for seven and a very responsive 283-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine, and on-demand all-wheel-drive. 

What that means is you can have a roomy, sure-footed and more powerful crossover for about the price of some of the popular, yet smaller compact crossovers, like the Kia Sorrento, Toyota RAV and Honda CR-V. 

The cabin is also very well executed, with the kind of family-friendly storage and hidden binnacles that I thought you could only find on minivans.  But select the Dodge Journey for your family hauler instead, and you’re all set. 

The front passenger seat cushion lifts up to reveal a secret storage space, ideal for CDs, children’s toys or extra diapers. Two additional storage bins lie beneath the second-row floor, and come with removable liners that allow them to be cleaned or drained of water (should you use them to stow wet towels or swim suits after a trip to the beach …  even iced beverages).  Well-done, Dodge. 

Also, the Journey’s taller stance provides excellent visibility and a higher ride height — a key selling point for older truck-based SUVs.  The adult-sized doors and generous leg room all encourage carrying more than just one passenger.  So with a Journey in your driveway, you’re sure to be nominated for car-pool duty and trips to the dog park on a regular basis. 

You get nearly 134-cubic feet of cargo area with seats folded, which beats the competition hands down.  With the second row up and third row down, you still get a generous 44.1 cubic feet.

With the V-6 under the hood, you have ample power, too.  It comes mated to the older corporate 6-speed automatic, which proved ready to downshift when you order more power — and seems more aggressive than the newer 9-speed automatic found in other FCA models now. 

Hit the throttle from a standing stop and the Journey jumps to life; hit it when overtaking slower traffic and you get excellent passing power.  Assisting in the effort are generous 19-inch wheels and tires.  Not only do they offer more grip, they fill the wheel arches quite nicely, giving the Journey a sporty, aggressive stance. 

Even those c
hoosing the SXT or base Crossroads with the 4-cylinder shouldn’t feel cheated, with 173 horsepower available from the Pentastar 2.4-liter engine. 

For the safety conscious the Journey provides front-passenger and side-curtain air bags, anti-lock brakes, traction control and electronic stability control for the suspension bits.  Comfort-conscious buyers (especially in warm climates) will find a three-zone temperature-control A/C system.  Northerners aren’t forgotten either, since it come with power, heated sideview mirrors, with manual fold-away feature for tight parking spots at the grocery.

Our test vehicle included two of the more common option packages, the $1,250 Popular Equipment Group (heated front seats and steering wheel, remote start, alarm, etc.), as well as the $1,295 Navigation and Backup Group (navigation, backup camera, parking assist, satellite radio and the usual collection of travel and traffic services). 

It also featured the built-in rear child booster seats for an additional $225, eliminating the need to lug around your grimy plastic boosters unnecessary.  And the pricing is very competitive among three-row crossovers; our nearly loaded $34,660 Journey is thousands cheaper than, say, a no-options Chevrolet Traverse or a Nissan Pathfinder, which prices out at roughly $10,000 more. 


No … the Journey isn’t nearly as sleek and sexy as say … an Infiniti QX50 or an Acura RDX.  But then, they both require that you be in a slightly higher tax bracket.  What I personally appreciate about the styling is that I can do a regular feet-in-first, guy-style entry maneuver when getting in, rather than the sissy-style, seat-first entry approach, so my head doesn’t scrape against the rakish A-pillar. 

The Crossroads Plus does offer more of a sporty look, with smoked grille and taillight covers. Dual exhaust ports are mounted in a metallic-looking rear kick panel.  


The cabin is spacious and user friendly. The control knobs for the AC and fan are on the dash where they belong, and within easy reach.  The large icons on the video screen are fairly easy to sort out when working to dial up the map and radio controls.  You also have volume tabs on the steering wheel, which means you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to adjust the sound.  As already noted, the interior is well designed.  Seats are comfortable and multi-adjustable with mesh inserts to keep the sticky leather bits from adhering to your backside.   


Driving the Journey on any journey makes the person behind the wheel feel secure and in control.  The higher seating position, responsive steering and suspension tuning help provide this crossover with just the right blend of riding comfort and handling prowess.  


While it’s normal to find some nits to pick with just about every vehicle we drive, we really had a difficult time finding any flaws that were so obvious or egregious enough that we found it necessary to pick up some pebbles and limber up our throwing arm.  As noted at the start, this was my first extended experience with the Journey, and a very likable one. 

Not sure if this was coincidence or karma, but certainly noticed LOTS MORE of them on the highways and byways that I had previously.  So obviously, the public has discovered some of the same assets that I did during my week-long encounter.  Checking the numbers, it seems Dodge has sold about 100,000 units a year since 2014, so perhaps finding more than a few on the road should come as no surprise.