Boasting seven seats and competitive pricing, on paper at least, Dodge’s Journey has what it takes to challenge the establishment. Why Dodge? The simple answer is that Dodge is Chrysler’s more overtly youth orientated or ’fun’ brand – making it a good fit for families. The Journey is clearly a chip off the new Grand Voyager’s block. The five-plus-two-seat MPV mirrors the Voyager with its upright stance and largely fuss-free sheet metal. A streamlined car-based people carrier it is not. The upside to all this is an accommodating and airy cabin
Under the bonnet is the Volkswagen Group’s familiar 2.0-litre, 138bhp motor from the ‘Pumpe Düse’ diesel era. It’s a generation behind rival offerings and it sometimes shows when cold and pushed hard. On paper the unit does offer a good spread of performance and economy, though; the aforementioned 138bhp plus a decent 229lb ft of torque, a claimed 43.5mpg on the combined cycle and a 170g/km CO2 rating.
In practice the experience can be ranked as more than acceptable, if not outstanding. The proven VW unit is willing enough but lacks the low speed refinement we’re now used to from rival cars. Once up to speed, things do improve, and it’s on steady motorway cruises that the combination of engine and road noise becomes more subdued.
While performance figures haven’t yet been released, the overall impression is better than the engine’s initial refinement suggests. This is aided by the car’s six-speed manual gearbox, as sixth proves to be a well judged ratio for cruising duties. Crucially there’s also an auto option, and surprisingly it’s a six-speed dual clutch (DSG) unit. Like the car, this DSG gearbox doesn’t like being rushed, but work with it and it delivers smooth changes, making the manual mode almost redundant.
Engine aside, the Journey delivers where it counts in terms of space, seating flexibility and practicality. As with recent Dodge products, the choice and quality of the cabin materials still can’t match that of the European opposition. The company continues to listen, though, as the improvements over the Caliber and Avenger are noticeable.
Seven seats, which can fold flat, numerous cabin storage options – including rear underfloor compartments – a high front seating position, generous levels of standard kit plus an optional hard disc-based navigation and music centre round off what is, on reflection, a well-judged family-centric alternative to the Zafiras and Tourans of this world.
RIVALS: Citroën GRAND C4 Pica sso, Vauxhall Zafira, VW Touran
- Engine: 1968cc, 4 cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max Power: 138bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 229lb ft at 1,750-2,500rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,600kg
- Combined Consumption: 43.5mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 170g/km (E)
- 0-62mph: tba
- Max speed: tba
- Insurance Group: tba