2009 Dodge Journey: A New SUV for the Road
As Dodge works to reinforce and develop an international presence, a new SUV for the range is being introduced at the 2007 Frankfurt auto show in September. Named Journey, the first official U.S. sighting will be at the Los Angeles auto show in November, ahead of U.S. sales first quarter of 2008. Dodge is going after young families and young couples about to start a family; in life stages, Journey is set to step in once the realities of family life have been accepted, but the appeal of a minivan’s practicality hasn’t won out over that vehicle type’s staid image.
Being built at Chrysler’s Toluca, Mexico, facility, Journey will go up against the likes of the Ford Edge, Chevrolet Equinox, Mazda CX-7, Nissan Murano, and Toyota Highlander. It isn’t quite big enough to take on the Saturn Outlook or upcoming Ford Flex, but Dodge also offers a minivan and Durango SUVs for full seven- or eight-passenger lifestyles. Dodge will offer the Journey in its typical SE, SXT, and R/T trim levels, with standard five or optional five-plus-two seating. Instead of relying on elements of modern SUV styling (like the Lexus RX and Edge) or going ultra stylish like Mazda’s CX-7 and CX-9, the Journey offers a modern take on the traditional SUV look. It retains Dodge’s aggressive personality in a segment that more typically offers soft edges and styling. It will make a nice addition to a landscape crowded with me-too styling.
Journey will complement the truck-based Durango and Nitro SUVs, and is the best-looking product to come from the Chrysler D-segment platform. The Journey is significantly larger than the Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring sedans on which it is based, sporting an extra five inches in wheelbase and two inches in overall length. Dodge refers to the Journey’s three-row seating arrangement as for only “occasional use” and calls it five-plus-two instead of seven-passenger or emphasizing the third-row aspect. This should help avoid criticism for a small third row by reducing expectations of a full-size third row from the beginning. Not a terrible idea.
Clever Storage/Passenger Features
Inside, Journey gets interesting cubby spaces, including in-floor storage below the second-row seats inspired by the Stow-n-Go minivans. These in-floor cubbies get latching lids and removable, washable liners, sized nicely for a twelve-pack of cans and ice. There is also a storage area below the front passenger’s seat cushion, cleverly called Flip N Stow.
Dodge relies on theater seating for second and third rows, to maximize visibility for all passengers. There’s also a feature Dodge calls a child presenter seat; in addition to the 60/40 second-row seats sliding fore and aft by nearly five inches, the 60-percent portion of the second row’s 60/40 fold-flat seat can be moved two inches forward to give the driver easier access to the child seat; Journey also offers integrated child booster seats. Five-seat models include a tri-fold load floor behind the second row with a hidden storage compartment and reversible for the plastic-side up; 5+2 models get a smaller in-floor hidden storage bin behind the third row. When the third row is ordered, the second row gets a lever on the side of the seatback (Tip N Slide) for single-action access to the third row. The third row is a 50-50 split and reclines as well. Second-row 90-degree-opening doors also make for easier ingress/egress to the third row as well as making it easier to strap child seats into the second row.
Most of the clever new features introduced on Chrysler LLC vehicles over the past two years will be offered on the Journey, though some are missing. Among those included are MyGig, navigation, a rear-parking camera system, the Chill Zone glove box, YES Essentials premium cloth, rechargeable LED flashlight in the cargo area, illuminated cupholders, rear-seat entertainment system, and remote start. At least at launch, it seems the Journey will do without Sirius satellite TV, and the heated/cooled cupholders aren’t listed in the initial specifications, either.
Familiar Powertrain Lineup
Though larger than Avenger and Sebring, the Journey looks to the same powertrains. The R/T will take the 235HP 3.5L V6, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Going up against a 265HP Edge, the entry could use more power. Providing a four-cylinder option will be the familiar 173HP 2.4L I4. And, also just like Avenger, the 186HP 2.7L V6 will be offered between the 2.4L I4 and bigger V6. Both the 2.4L I4 and 2.7L V6 take a standard four-speed automatic transmission. Journey will be offered in front- or all-wheel-drive options, but the only way to get AWD is to step up to the 3.5L V6.
European markets will also see a 2.0L CRD diesel, but that engine isn’t included in the U.S. plan at launch. The diesel will also be among Dodge’s first applications of a new six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. A conventional six-speed manual is standard with the diesel, the dual-clutch setup optional.