I know, I know: How dare I disgrace DriveTribe with the presence of a Dodge Journey. You're only here for Lambos, Ginettas, and Cappuccinos (the car not the drink). Thing is, DriveTribe isn't a sacred land for only the holiest of thoughts. It's a place where the best and the worst of the automotive world converge into a space for discussion, enjoyment, or perhaps ridicule. With that in mind, I want to talk about a car pretty much everyone dislikes: The Dodge Journey.
Oh yes, I recently got the opportunity to wield this ancient beast on the road and see what it's all about. Let me clarify one thing though: It'd be far to easy to talk about all the things wrong with the car, so I'm going to go over all the good things first. Also, I didn't drive it for very long at all. So this is less of a review and more of a hot take (as per the title). Let's begin, starting with the good.
It has good power
Mm-mm, look at the layers of dust on THAT thing ;)
If there's one thing Dodge got right in the Journey, it was the inclusion of the ubiquitous 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. This engine has been around for a while and in numerous products but it still proves to be powerful, efficient, and a smooth engine choice (even in the Journey). You can't say the Journey can't get out of its own way when necessary.
The turning radius is pretty good
Thinking on my toes, I got to test how good or bad the turning radius was on two roads with different widths. The first road was VERY wide so turning around without resorting to a three-point-turn was no problem. I wasn't so lucky on the second road. The second road was a fairly normal industrial-park two-way road. Not exceptionally wide like the first road but still of ample size.
Either I didn't turn the wheel fast enough on the second and third attempt, but I couldn't do a U-turn on the second road without running out of room and turning what should've been a U-turn into a three-point-turn. Mentally I even felt like I was hitting full-lock a bit too soon. Nevertheless, the turning radius is still pretty decent.
It has tons of storage
While the Journey might not have as much storage capacity as the Grand Caravan (nor as many cubby-holes), it's not exactly lacking for space either.
Fold the third-row seats down and you've got ample storage for large –lengthy– items. Put them back up and –while you do have less storage than before– you still have enough space left for a decent haul from the grocery store.
There's even some minivan style storage where the second-row seats are. Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture –failing my duties as a journalist– but there's just enough storage for some ice and water bottles (or beer and a Stella Artois if you're going to Coachella). I'm not going to say anything can fit in there, but I would think that a few novel items, snacks, drinks, etc, could fit in there pretty well.
Photo Credit: FCA
It might not have the plushest ride of all the CUVs/Crossovers out there, but I can't say it was terrible to ride in. Nothing spectacular mind you, but not unpleasant either.
Beyond the ride, legroom in the front two rows was good. I'm not going to say again that I'm not very tall (barely pushing 5'5”) but I don't think many individuals would be struggling for space in the front row or the second-row seats. Speaking of seating...
It has genuinely useful third-row seating!
Whenever I hear that a car has third-row seating, I always wonder whether or not it's like the Camaro's back seats or Mustang back seats (I.E useless). I was especially skeptical given that the Journey didn't look like it would be long enough to properly incorporate an extra row of seating. As it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised! I don't think it would be the most comfortable row to sit in if you're, say, above 5'9”, but your shorter passengers should be able to fit in the back without too much trouble.
Now, let's get onto the bad.
The interior materials are cheap
It was inevitable I was going to mention the plastics in the interior of what is still primarily a DaimlerChrysler product (and one which hasn't been properly updated since 2011 at that). The plastics are hard, they sound fairly cheap if you knock on them, and they envelope most of the front dash and indeed the majority of the remaining cabin. The dash design itself I didn't really have a problem with though. It's old and outdated yet refreshingly simple too, like a movie from the 70s you know is campy and nowhere near up to modern standards, yet provides comfort like that Twinkie in the back of your kitchen cabinet.
The Infotainment system was slow
Photo credit: FCA
If there's one thing I'm grateful Dodge/FCA did have the decency to do, it was adding the uConnect 8.4-inch touch screen into the dash. Outside of the engine, it's probably the most modern thing in the entire car. However, it didn't come without a drawback. Unlike the Chrysler 300 we had during a vacation a few years ago, the 8.4-inch touchscreen in this Journey was surprisingly slow. I'd tap the screen like you would on a phone or tablet and it wouldn't respond. I would have to hold my finger on the screen for a few seconds before it would register my command (almost like I was pressing a button). I don't think it was the system itself because the 300 my family had during a vacation a few years ago was much more responsive, so either the system was becoming defective due to a lack of updates, or the screen was incredibly dirty.
The brake pedal had a ton of give
Unlike the family Tiguan, the Journey had noticeably weaker brake pedal feel. I've only had a few hours of driving so my gas pedal application is still a little bit jerky, but I've got the feel of the brakes down. At least, I thought I did. Unlike the Tiguan, the Journey's brake pedal isn't as stiff and thus doesn't inspire as much confidence. During the first few uses of the brake pedal, I found myself using more of the pedal than perhaps necessary because the brakes didn't bite like I was expecting them to. That's not to say the braking distance was worse (I didn't test that), but the overall feel was lacking.
The gear-selector shape is dumb
Photo credit: FCA (car pictured is the 2011 Charger).
You know how nearly every automaker –excluding exotics– did that really weird thing back in the late 00s and 10s where they tried to make their automatic gear selector imitate what it's like to shift a manual? Like in the F&F movies? That questionable design is present in the Journey too (and still is). I'm not surprised by any means, but I find it kind of unnecessary.
Fuel economy isn't great
This isn't something I observed first hand, but I do know that the Journey is fairly average (if not below-average) in this area. You get 19 MPG city and 25 mpg highway for the 2.4-liter I-4, 17 MPG city and 25 highway for the V6, and 16 MPG city and 24 highway if you have a V6 with AWD. Not atrocious, but there are more efficient options out there.
The Journey is, obviously, outdated
Just look at that "TFT" screen. Darn thing couldn't even play a mobile game, lol.
The Journey has been around for more than 10 years now and in that time the last time it received an update was in 2011. 2011! That's 8 years ago! Do you even remember how different the automotive landscape was 8 years ago? I barely do...
Yet through it all, the Journey has stayed –perhaps frustratingly– the same. That's not something to reminisce on fondly though, considering the advances other Crossovers and CUVs have made in that time (especially ones made by Mazda), it's long past time Dodge actually makes a successor to the Journey. I mean, the 2.4-liter Tigershark I-4 still uses a 4-speed automatic transmission for crying out loud! I know that all the tooling used to manufacture the Journey is paid off now (which basically means every Journey sold is pure profit), but it's definitely time to let the Journey die.
Proof of me sitting in the third-row...
I tend to look at the Journey like this: Of all the cars in the Dodge lineup, the Journey is the one most like an appliance. Not really special, interesting, or something an enthusiast would want, but it is decent, basic transportation for someone who needs a Crossover/CUV with optional third-row seats on a tight budget. Which, for a decade-old car lacking any serious updates in a while and is the butt of many jokes, is sort of admirable to me.
Oh, and it has actual, honest-to-god second-row A/C, which is cool.
TL;DR: I didn't absolutely hate it
Thanks for reading! What's a commonly disliked car that you didn't despise with your very being? I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments below! See you later.