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September 3, 2014

2014 Dodge Journey Crossroad AWD

by Mark Savage

New Journey Crossroad improves the breed

All credit goes to Chrysler and its Italian parent, Fiat, for constantly improving the handsome Journey mid-size crossover.dodge1

My first couple drives in the Journey left me wanting, the last one four years ago was a step up and now this latest tester, a bright pearl red Journey Crossroad with all-wheel-drive, was a leap forward.

Outwardly you’d think this is pretty much the same vehicle as a few years back with some exterior tweaks. But many of my previous complaints are gone. That’s not to say Journey is perfect, but heck, what $32 grand vehicle is?

Let’s start with the overall drive quality. That always has been pretty good, the big upside here being a comfortable ride, quiet interior and reasonable power along with light easy handling. This model also has all-wheel-drive, so should perform well in winter, a decided plus in Wisconsin.

Journey is easy to drive, its six-speed automatic shifting smoothly and its 3.6-liter V6 with variable valve timing providing ample power. The V6 is rated at 283 horses and if you tromp the gas pedal it’ll get up and go, but there is a noticeable lag in acceleration at the start. I noticed it most when cruising between Milwaukee and Indianapolis on a weekend jaunt. Press the gas pedal as you ease into the passing lane and then wait for the acceleration to pick up. Yes, you can pound the gas pedal, but that creates a less than appealing ride for passengers. So plan ahead, as you might with a vehicle packing a turbocharged engine.

dodge3Handling is light and Journey is easy to park in a tight spot. Braking is fine with four-wheel discs plus stability and traction control. Journey rides on 19-inch tires.

Families will like that Journey also earns a 5-star crash rating front and side impacts, plus a 4-star mark for rollovers.

Inside is where I’ve seen the biggest improvements though.

The test vehicle featured a black leather interior with leather look dash and leather trimmed seats with cloth inserts. Even the center armrest has a soft leather covering. That and good sound deadening material give Journey a quiet, near luxury feel to its generously proportioned interior. And unlike the $123,000 Range Rover I drove recently, the Journey has a third row seat.

But more to the point for everyday driving, Journey’s dash and controls all have been upgraded and drastically improved. This is where I’d had concerns in past reviews.

There is a large navigation/radio screen mid-dash with large volume and tuning knobs below it. Being a large touch screen it’s also easy to select stations on the screen. Like other Chrysler audio systems now, this one is easy to use, even while driving and its size makes the visuals easier to read.

The Journey's dash is well designed and features a large navigation screen.

The Journey’s dash is well designed and features a large navigation screen.

The main gauges also are attractive and easy to see. Gone is the odd placement of the manual tilt/telescope steering wheel that used to block about a third of the gauges from the driver’s view.

Seats remain fairly flat on the bottom with mild back contouring, but this has power seats and a power lumbar support that made my trip to Indy more comfortable. I had no back fatigue after my drive. For winter there are heated front seats and a heated steering wheel too. That’s part of a $995 package that includes remote start, a security alarm and a few other goodies.

Five people fit in the roomy Journey easily with good head and legroom, while this model offered an optional third row seat along with a 60/40 Tilt N Slide second row seat, both in a $1,500 package. So you could carry seven folks here, but only five could be adults. That back row has precious little legroom, so put little ones there.

Other add-ons were the navigation and sound system package that included Uconnect for the audio system, satellite radio and traffic info, a rear back-up camera and park assist sensors that were not overly sensitive. That package is $995. However, I’ve got to tell you that the Garmin navigation system repeatedly shut down as I was traveling, going back to the home page and asking if I wanted to get directions or look at the map. Press a button and it came right back, but I’ve never had a system repeatedly need to be rebooted as I drove.dodge

Behind the third row is minor cargo room, but flip the rear seats down into the floor and you’ll have oodles of space for luggage and other cargo. Plus Dodge says you can pull up to 2,500 lbs. of trailer and load behind you if you’re off to the lake or cabin for the weekend.

A few other points to ponder: the sun visors slide to block side sun and I like the big open bin at the front of the console so you can store odds and ends to leave the cup holders open for a bottle of water or two. However, there is no sunroof here, a bit surprising at this price point, and the parking brake pedal sticks out too far above the dead pedal for your left foot. It can catch pant legs as you exit.

On the upside, I averaged 24.4 mpg in a week’s drive that included the highway drive to Indy and back. I maxed out at 25.9 in the highway drive and dipped to 22.5 mpg in about a 60% highway and 40% city drive. The EPA rates Journey at 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.

Price is moderate. The entry-level APV model starts at $20,990, but only comes with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that creates 173 horses and an old 4-speed automatic transmission. The tested Crossroad with AWD starts at $28,395 and adds $925 for delivery. With options this one hit $32,880. A more upscale R/T with the same V6 starts at $31,890.dodge2

All told, Journey is a worthy family hauler that provides a reasonably priced alternative to the staid minivan.

FAST Stats: 2014 Dodge Journey Crossroad AWD

Hits: Quiet, roomy and well-appointed and designed interior. Seats are comfy with power driver’s lumbar support and heated front seats, plus heated steering wheel. Ride is nice and power is good, plus AWD will help in winter. Third row seat a plus as is big nav/radio screen and large buttons and knobs. Visors slide too.

Misses: No sunroof and the navigation system shuts down repeatedly. Noticeable lag in acceleration when vehicle already is in motion, such as on the highway. Also the parking brake pedal is awkwardly placed.

Made in: Toluca, Mexico.

Engine: 3.6-liter V6 VVT, 283 hp

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Weight: 4,238 lbs.

Wheelbase: 113.8 in.

Length: 192.4 in.

Cargo: 67.6 cu.ft.

Tow: 2,500 lbs.

MPG: 16/24 (EPA)

MPG: 24.4 (tested)

Base Price: $28,395

Dealer’s Price: $28,053 (includes delivery)

Major Options:

Preferred package 28V (flexible seating group, second row 60/40 tilt n slide seat, third row 50/50 fold reclining seat), $1,500

Popular equipment group (security alarm, high-bean daytime running lights, universal garage opener, automatic headlamps, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, remote start), $995

Navigation and Sound Group I (leather-wrapped shift knob/steering wheel, Garmin navigation system, Uconnect CD/DVD/MP3/Nav, SiriusXM Traffic/Travel, ParkView rear back-up camera, ParkSense rear park assist, universal garage door opener), $995

Delivery: $925

Test vehicle: $32,880

Sources: Dodge, http://www.kbb.com

Photos: Dodge

 

 

 

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