For years now, larger vehicles have dominated car sales with families putting a premium on space and seating over handling and fuel economy. The 2016 Dodge Journey is a perfect example of this with its third-row seating offering room for seven while sacrificing great handling and power. Yet, after driving it around for a week, it is clear why it has perennially been one of Dodge’s best-selling models. The extra space in the smaller size (easy to park and easier to drive for most) with a seating position that fits many people is quite honestly precisely what the American buying public wants and a big oversight by the Journeys many critics.
It is hard for me to write a review of the Journey without making mention of the critics who have rated the SUV poorly. For example, Car and Driver gave it a 2/5 and Edmunds.com gave it a 7.3/10. They cite the age of the vehicle’s platform (introduced in 2008), poor handling in the corners, lack of engine power and poor fuel economy among other things. This reviews leave little doubt, they don’t like it.
However, the Journey sales have averaged around 50k units a year since its introduction with a banner year in 2014 with 93,572 units sold. How could a SUV this terrible to critics, sell so well? Simple, customers simply have different viewpoints than critics.
What then are the reasons people are buying it droves? Like previously stated, it fits many different family’s needs, offers a driver’s seating area anyone can operate the vehicle with, has a third-row perfect for kids and it is smaller size means it is easier to park and drive for many owners. It is really just a smaller version of a mini-van with a cheaper price.
During my week of driving it around, I saw both points of view on the SUV. Off the line, on the road and in the corners, it simply doesn’t perform all that well. Is it terrible? Hardly, it drives like a vehicle from 2008 and is need of an update versus the competition. Yet, it really isn’t going to be considered that awful to the average consumer. There are just other competitor vehicles that offer a better driving experience and better fuel economy than the Journey’s EPA estimated 16/24/19 city/highway/combined.
While the driving experience could use some improvement, the basics of the vehicle are really good. For passengers and the driver, the entry/exit isn’t the vehicle is really good, storage is plentiful (even has storage under the passenger’s seat), there is plenty of room for holding seven people (I had 4 adults and 2 kids in it at one time) and it is easy to use on a daily basis with its smaller size. It is basically a perfect compromise for those not wanting the large size of a mini-van and yet who still need the space and seating for seven it provides.
Styling wise there is room for an update again with the last update coming in 2011. The front fascia is starting to show its age and it is decidedly looking different than the current generation of Dodge vehicles which are much more stylish like the Durango.
Inside the technology is fairly good with the critically-acclaimed Uconnect system in our test model doing its usual great job of providing an easy-to-use menu system and good app selection. While we wished for a rear DVD entertainment option, the rest of the technology performed for our needs.
A few items could also use some improvement like the roof mounted HVAC controls which are hard to reach for small children without leaving their seats. Also, the driver’s dash panel is just OK. Dodge has much better styling out there in other vehicles that they could use in the Journey.
Overall, the Journey just works for most families including mine. It is cheap (starts at $20,995), offers a third-row and is easy for both my wife and I to drive. While I want more power and better handling, it is a family vehicle and not a sports car. For the price, I’ll sacrifice one for the other.
Model: 2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad Plus AWD
Engine: 3.6L V6
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
EPA Estimated MPG: 16/24/19 city/highway/combined
- Crossroad Equipment (leather seats with sport mesh, premium door trim panel with stitching, cargo net, 8.4-inch touchscreen display, light gray accent stitching, power 6-way driver seat with lumbar, front-passenger fold-flat seat, passenger in-seat cushion storage, a/c with 3-zone automatic temp control) – $1,100
- Popular Equipment Group (security alarm, universal garage door opener, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, remote start system) – $1,250
- Navigation and Back-Up Camera Group (Garmin navigation system, 8.4” radio navigation, SiriusXM, Parkview back-up camera, ParkSense rear park assist system) – $1,295
- Second-row seat with 2 child boosters – $225
Price as Tested: $34,660 with $995 Destination Charge
Tim Esterdahl is a married father of three who enjoys all things automotive including wrenching on his collection of old pickups. You can find his work here and in print in Truck Trend magazine as well as on Pickuptrucks.com. Recently, he is growing a huge audience at his website PickTruckTalk.com
He also plays an absurd amount of golf. Like, really absurd.