If you can look past Chrysler’s fiscal woes, the brand has some very good and successful vehicles in its model range.
The Grand Caravan minivan and the Ram pickup have been on the list of top selling nameplates for several years now. The Chrysler 300 full-size sedan and, of course Jeep, are also favourites among Canadian consumers.
Last year, Dodge introduced the Journey which it described as the “right-sized” crossover and it was slotted in between the Caliber compact car and the Grand Caravan minivan.
To me Journey is a clever way of taking a minivan and making it look like a SUV so people get the utility of up to seven seats along with a more rugged trucky look so in vogue these days.
Based on a stretched Sebring platform, the Journey answers the question about what ever happened to the regular-size Chrysler minivans and fills a void in the Chrysler/Dodge lineup at the same time.
Essentially this is the vehicle that fits in where the short-wheel-base Caravan used to be and is still very much in demand by a lot of consumers who don’t want a full-size minivan in the Odyssey/Veracruz class. Bigger than a Mazda5, it also offers a real utility advantage against the rise of Santa Fe/Equinox/Edge competition.
Journey comes standard with four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, Electronic Stability Control with integrated traction control, Electronic Brake Assist, Electronic Rollover Mitigation and Trailer Sway Control.
Also standard is four-wheel independent suspension, 40/60 split folding rear seat, power heated mirrors, power locks and windows and, believe it or not at this price, a glovebox with chilled drink storage.
With all that equipment and a price point under twenty grand ($19,495 for the SE), it’s a bargain.
Both SE models are powered by a 2.4-litre, variable valve timing DOHC inline four-cylinder producing 173 hp and 166 lb/ft of torque. It comes with a four-speed automatic transmission and is available only in front-wheel-drive (FWD).
On the highway, the R/T was light on the controls with the six-speed automatic shifting up and down seamlessly.
Call it a minivan, a station wagon, a hatchback or whatever a “crossover” is these days, the Dodge Journey does fit Chrysler’s mantra of being the “right-sized” family vehicle.
2009 Dodge Journey R/T AWD
Type: Mid-size crossover van
Price: $29,995 (as tested)
Engine: 3.5-litre V6 (235 hp, 232 lb/ft)
Fuel Economy: 3.5-litre AWD, 14.2L/100 km city, 8.9L/100 km highway
• Family van with good looks