Quite possibly the most significant vehicle for the company since the Chrysler 300
Do you need extra space wrapped in a stylish package? Then take a quick trip to see the Journey, which appears at Dodge dealerships later this year.
The new vehicle could easily have been called the Avenger Wagon due to its similar styling, but Dodge instead picked the Journey label for its all-new sedan-based minivan/sport ute alternative.
Models of similar shape and style to the Journey are becoming must-haves for automakers. Along with giving minivan- and sport ute-averse buyers a more stylish/fuel-efficient alternative, designing and building these vehicles doesn’t require massive capital investment since their basic platforms, powerplants and other accessories are carried over from their sedan counterparts.
The Journey could even be considered a replacement for the shorterlength Caravan that was discontinued when Chrysler launched its size-large only Grand Caravan and Town & Country minivans for the 2008 model year.
But versatility is what this tall wagon is all about. In base trim there’s seating for five people, but up-level versions offer a two-place third-row 50/50 split bench. There are also some other clever interior storage options such as a front passenger seat with a flip-forward hinged cushion that’s ideal for concealing cameras, purses and other valuables. And all models feature two in-floor storage compartments with removable plastic liners behind the front seats that are large enough to hold a dozen beverage cans each, plus ice. Also don’t forget the chilled storage bin inside the glove compartment that can keep a couple of additional beverages at the ready.
Need more out-of sight hiding places? Check the full-width cubby just inside the rear hatch or the even bigger under-floor rear storage compartment (on five-passenger models).
Although influenced by the Avenger sedan, this roomier derivation has five extra inches between the front and rear wheels and an eight-inch advantage in height, but with an overall length that is greater by just 1.5 inches. The dimensions bode well for passenger comfort and for piling on the cargo, especially when both back seats and the front passenger bucket are folded flat.
The Journey’s understated, neatly tailored interior complements an exterior that’s easily as attractive as anything wearing Dodge’s patented crosshair grille. The top-to-bottom and front-to-back proportions are spot-on and from any angle the wagon exudes strength and class.
Strength, in the Journey’s case, comes in three varieties. The SE is fitted with a 173-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder, with a 186-horsepower 2.7-liter V6 arriving with the mid-level SXT.
Accompanying the top-grade R/T is a 235-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 that’s also optional on the SXT.
The R/T is the only model that allows buyers to add all-wheel-drive to the mix. The system automatically kicks in to direct power to the rear wheels when needed, including slippery mud and snow conditions as well as when the vehicle is accelerating up to 65 mph.
A four-speed automatic transmission comes with the 2.4- and 2.7-liter powerplants while the 3.5 V6 gets a six-speed automatic.
Dodge is mum for now regarding content, but the base SE is expected to include air conditioning, cruise control, adjustable steering wheel, keyless remote entry, CD-equipped audio system, power windows, locks and mirrors and a complete range of safety gear. Among the optional gear, some of which could arrive as standard equipment on the SXT and/or R/T, will be a leather interior, roof rack, backup camera, navigation system, 19-inch wheels and a flashlight stored in the cargo area.
With prices beginning at just $20,000, the Journey’s value quotient is as attractive as the vehicle itself, which is good considering that the only real wagon contender in Chrysler’s lineup has been the Dodge Caliber.
It’s a wagon world out there these days and the “Journey” to the local Dodge dealership now has real and deliberate purpose.