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2009 Dodge Journey - Heels on Wheels Review

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2009 Dodge Journey

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By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

If you’re a Chrysler loyalist, the first thing you'll notice about the all-new Journey is how much more chiseled and roomier it is than its similar siblings, such as the Jeep Compass or Dodge Caliber. This 7-passenger crossover calls to families who want car life to be as convenient as a Grand Caravan but a step more exciting.

I drove a 2009 Dodge Journey with the SXT trim and the 235-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine with a 6-speed transmission. Base price was $23,125 – however, optional equipment bumped my ride up to $30,505, which includes Inferno Red paint ($225); the Convenience Group ($695) featuring a roof rack, roof rail crossbars, cabin air filtration, interior lamps, steering-wheel mounted controls; the Premium Convenience Group ($940) such as rear AC, 3-zone climate control, hands-free communication; Exterior Appearance Package ($795) like aluminum wheels and performance steering; Flexible Seating Group ($902); Trailer Tow ($130); Rear Video Group ($1,195) which is basically a DVD player; Smoker's Group ($30); Safe and Sound Group ($695) like the rear-view camera; Family Value Group ($295) such as the built-in child booster seats; Power Sunroof ($795);and finally the Engine Block Heater ($40).

The convenient built-in second row booster seats are a first for the crossover segment.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: If you can get over the nickel-and-diming approach with each and every little vehicle options – a great many which the consumer should not be charged for, such as interior overhead lamps and steering wheel audio controls – it's a comparable crossover ride. Some quirks exist; such as the rear backup camera positioned awkwardly way too low, the hidden audio controls on the steering wheel (dexterity bonus or bad design?), or the second-row climate controls placed too high for a child to reach. Driver seating is stiff. The second-row boosters seat for kids is a unique feature. Both the second and third rows fold down flat to make for very generous cargo space and there is a Flip 'n Stow storage compartment. The Journey is a pleasing shape; boxy but not too much so; definitely not too large and with many windows for better visibility than you’d find on a competitor like the Nissan Murano.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Journey includes antilock disc brakes, traction control, rollover-sensing stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags for all three rows. The optional rearview camera and hands-free communication system are optional – I'd probably skip this Safe and Sound Group ($695) seeing the placement of the interior screen is way too low.

Cost Issues: I still think $30,505 for three rows and a V6 is a sound price – I just don't think it's "smart PR" the way Dodge packages the vehicle options.

Activity & Performance Ability: The Journey has been noted in many reviews as offering a quite ride. Acceleration was responsive, brakes were a bit spongy, and steering was entirely too stiff. There just wasn't a sense of flexibility on high-speed turns – it's simply not as much fun to drive than many competitors, but a point should be made the 235-horsepower V6 delivers strength and power. If Dodge was really trying to entice the minivan segment, it should have offered sliding second-row doors.

The Green Concern: The EPA gives the Journey STX a 16-mpg city and 23-mpg highway fuel economy estimate, which comes to be about average for crossovers with a V6 engine.

If you aren't deterred by the overbearing optional packaging marketing strategy, the Journey's tougher crossover shape and affordable price does have the potential to catch your eye – the booster seats being an option not found elsewhere.

Katrina's Car Tips For Women Drivers
2010 and 2009 Model Reviews
2008 Model Reviews

MORE: Dodge Specs, Reviews and Comparisons-Dodge Buyers Guide

2009 Katrina Ramser