Under the Hood: 2018 Dodge Journey

The Dodge Journey is one of the oldest mid-size SUVs on the market. It debuted in 2008 as a 2009 model year, and since then it hasn’t received a significant redesign. There was a mild refresh in 2011, but that was mostly an aesthetics upgrade.

Just because this SUV is old doesn’t make it unpopular with buyers. A whopping 106,759 Journeys were sold in 2016. If you’re in the market for a new SUV here’s everything you need to know about the 2018 Dodge Journey.

Pricing and Trim Levels

Prior to the 2018 model year, the Dodge Journey came with seating for five standard, with an optional third row of seating available. Now that optional third row is standard, making the Journey one of the cheapest seven-seat SUVs on the market.

A base model 2018 Journey SE with a four-cylinder engine and seating for seven starts at just $22,495. While the Journey seats seven, don’t think that means there’s a bunch of cargo space available. The Journey has just 67.7 cubic feet of cargo space with both back rows folded down. For reference, the max cargo space in a Toyota Prius V is 67.3 cubic feet.

Between the entry-level SE trim and top-of-the-line GT sit the SXT and Crossroad trims. The SXT starts at $25,695 and the Crossroad checks in at $27,895. The top-tier GT, available with a V6 engine only, begins at $32,495. The Crossroad is the sweet spot in the Journey lineup. For under $30,000, you get an SUV with seating for seven, an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment center, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Choosing the more powerful V6 engine drives the price up to $30,690, which is still almost $3,000 cheaper than the GT. The GT does have some noteworthy standard features, including leather-trimmed seats and a heated front seat and steering wheel. But at $32,495, the Journey GT stops looking like such a bargain and the features it lacks become more apparent.

All-wheel drive is an option on every trim, although it’s a bit of a pricey option as it requires moving up to the bigger V6 engine. On the base SE model, the AWD-V6 combo adds $4,400 to the price tag. That number drops to $3,500 on the SXT and Crossroad trims, and for the top-tier GT the price drops even further to $1,900. If you just want the V6 engine by itself, you’ll need to pony up an extra $1,700. If you plan on hauling around a bunch of people and stuff that’s one option you shouldn’t ignore.

What’s Under the Hood: Aging Engines and Transmissions

The engine for all Journeys, save for the top-tier GT trim, is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder making 173 horsepower and 166 lb-ft of torque. The four-cylinder engine sends power to the front wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission. Dodge also offers a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. This engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. This engine-transmission combo is standard when you choose a Journey with all-wheel drive, which is available on all trim levels.

The four-cylinder Journey returns 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. The V6’s numbers are comparable, with a split of 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. Choosing all-wheel drive — which you can only get with the V6 — drops fuel economy to 16 mpg city and 24 mph highway. Thanks to a sizable gas tank, the Journey can go 500 miles between fill-ups. All trim levels have a max towing capacity of 1,000 pounds, save for the GT which can tow 2,500 pounds.

If those engine and transmission options seem a little lacking, it’s because they are. The Journey offers no turbocharged engine option, which is basically par for the course in the SUV segment nowadays. That being said, the Journey’s V6 stacks up well against others in its class.

One area where the Journey falls completely flat is in the transmission department. Hardly any manufacturers offer a four-speed auto anymore, especially in the ultra-competitive SUV segment. That six-speed auto also looks dated, especially as the Journey’s top option. The lack of an available CVT or dual-clutch transmission is glaring and shows the Journey’s age perhaps more than anything else.

Image via FCA Canada

Safety and Technology

The Dodge Journey is by no means a leader in safety. The NHTSA gave the Journey a four-star overall crash test rating. The SUV also was awarded “good” marks in all of the IIHS’ testing, save for the small overlap front test where it received a “poor” grade. The test is designed to simulate a crash into an oncoming car or utility pole at under 40 mph.

When it comes to safety technology, the Journey is far behind the times with no safety tech packages on offer. A backup camera is not even standard on any trims. Rear-park assist is available, but like the camera it costs extra. The Journey is meant to be a value mid-size SUV, but having to pay extra for a backup camera is cutting corners a bit too much.

As you might have guessed by now, the Journey is not a technological powerhouse. There’s no available Wi-Fi hotspot or wireless charging pad. Bluetooth connectivity isn’t even standard until you hit the Crossroad trim. The SE and SXT trims get a 4.3-inch touchscreen standard. The Crossroad and GT models get an 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system, widely regarded as one of the industry’s best. Navigation is available as an add-on, as is satellite radio and a second-row drop-down screen for watching DVDs and playing video games.

Final Thoughts: You Get What You Pay For

If you want an SUV that does okay on gas and is relatively inexpensive, the 2018 Dodge Journey is a good buy. Keep in mind that you’ll be getting what you pay for, though. J.D. Power & Associates gave the Journey a two out of five in both overall quality, and overall performance and design. The Journey was awarded a three out of five in predicted reliability.

Normally when it comes to an older model like the Journey, conventional wisdom says you should wait for a redesign. At almost 10 years old, this SUV is due for a complete overhaul. However, it appears that Dodge is going for a radical redesign that will completely change the Journey’s appeal.
Dodge is apparently planning to reimagine the Journey altogether. The SUV will go from a budget, three-row SUV to a more performance-focused two-row crossover. The new Journey will reportedly be rear-wheel drive and share a platform with the Alfa Romeo Giula; Dodge is owned by FCA which also owns Alfa Romeo. This shift will make the Journey sexier and more modern, but it will also change what has made it so appealing to buyers. Again, there’s no official confirmation on this move, so take it with a grain of salt.

At the end of the day, if all you’re after is seven seats and a good price point it’s hard to recommend anything else other than the 2018 Dodge Journey. However, if you want a more modern SUV with better engine options and more safety tech then you should look past the aging Dodge Journey.

Image via FCA Canada