Dodge Journey SXT 2010 Review

Is your home full of family members and pets but your bank account isn’t packed full of cash? If you answered yes, then read on because the Dodge Journey SXT may be the family hauler for you. The 2010 model year has brought some small updates for the American SUV and being priced just below the $40k mark it’s ready to continue forcing itself into the consciousness of thrifty kiwi buyers. Car and SUV played mum for a week in the Journey to find out if it had the durability and versatility demanded by New Zealand families.

From the outside the Journey’s styling and proportions are striking but difficult to define. It looks like a cross between an SUV and a people mover with a chunky face surrounded by pumped up sheetmetal. There’s a definite road-focus to the styling and its relatively low ride height and colour-coded body kit make no promises of any off-road credentials. Out front there’s the chrome Dodge signature grille with the Ram’s head logo stamped in, quad halogen headlights and fog lamps mounted in the square-jaw front bumper.  In profile the Journey shows off a large glasshouse, and pushed-out wheel arches that house 17-inch alloy wheels in base-model SXT form. The rear design is a touch softer boasting jeweled four-piece taillights and a lightweight single panel lift-gate with integrated roof spoiler. While the overall design isn’t as polarizing as the Nitro or Chrysler 300C the Journey is a handsome machine and looks more expensive than its price tag suggests.

Step inside and you’re greeted with dark cloth seating and extensive black plastics with contrasting silver trim. The dashboard is sharp-angled and busy with a large number of control buttons and dials. There is a slightly dated to the switchgear and the buttons are untextured and slightly loose in their settings. The instrument cluster is quite thin and shallow which is at odds with the larger, deeper set dials in most modern crossover vehicles. The recent updates have included new audio controls mounted on the steering wheel, these function well and avoid distraction from the low-mounted head unit. The fit and quality of the plastics is generally robust and could take a good kicking from a toddler. But there are some concessions made during the Journey’s conversion to right-hand-drive like a smallish foot well for the driver and having the handbrake located on the far side of the centre console.

There’s still much to like about the Journey interior with spaciousness and practicality being its strong suits. The stain-resistant cloth seats are firm but comfortable and offer great visibility for all seven occupants thanks to a stadium seating arrangement that raises the second and third rows. Head room is good all round and leg room is excellent for the front two rows of seats, the back pew is best suited to kids but is more accommodating than most 7-seater competitors. There’s also great versatility to the seating arrangements with the back row stowing flat into the floor and the second row being able to slide forward and back. There are also integrated child booster seats in the second seating row and the rear doors open a full 90-degrees to making for easy access. The practicality doesn’t stop there either, there’s also a vast range of interior storage solutions, including water-tight bins in the floor, a hidden stash area in the base of the passenger seat and a cooled split glove box to keep drinks chilled.

In terms of standard equipment the SXT model does very well with 3-zone temperature control air con, 6 Disc CD Stereo, heated side mirrors, cruise control, power adjusted driver’s seat, tinted glass, trip computer and a rechargeable clip-out LED torch all included.

There have been no mechanical changes in the recent Journey updates and the SXT continues using the same 2.7-litre V6 engine that produces 136kW of power and 256Nm of torque. It’s not a weak engine but has to be worked hard to get the 1,865kg Journey moving with any real haste. However, once up to cruising speed the Journey is nicely settled and few buyers in this segment will require greater straight-line performance. Round the suburbs and at motorway speeds the six-cylinder motor functions adequately.

Shifting the gears is a six-speed auto box which works hard to extract all available power from the motor; it’s quick kicking down a gear and is fairly intuitive in its changes. Power is shifted exclusively to the front wheels and while this denies the Journey any 4WD capability it helps achieve a 10.3l/100km combined fuel economy. This makes the Journey a thirsty vehicle to run and plenty of round town activity will push that fuel economy figure even higher.

When it comes to handling the Journey does lean its broad shoulders into corners resulting in some body roll. There are also occasional moments of torque-steer if you’re too vigorous with the go pedal. However, during daily cruising the ride is very comfortable and the Journey eats up potholes and road bumps like its mum baked them. The steering is also good, being responsive and fairly precise but still lightly weighted.

One of the advantages of the Journey’s six-cylinder engine is that it’s a fairly quiet unit and little engine noise enters the cabin. Wind noise and tyre roar are also well suppressed making for a tranquil vehicle once the kids have been dropped at school.

Safety bases are covered with front, side and curtain airbags all included, in addition to various electronic aides like stability control, traction control, hill start assist and a roll mitigation system.

The Dodge Journey doesn’t pose a particularly difficult equation. If you’re looking for a rapid, sports-focused steer the Journey probably isn’t for you. If you want a spacious, highly practical family hauler with stand-out-styling at a price under $40k then the Journey SXT may make an attractive prospect. There are some concessions to be made in terms of fuel economy and interior aesthetics, but for large families and those who require genuine 7-seat capability the Journey makes a lot of sense.

Price: $39,990

What we like:

  • Distinctive styling
  • Comfortable ride
  • Good equipment level for the price

What we don’t like:

  • It’s a thirsty beast
  • Dated instrument cluster
  • Body roll

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo

Other reviews of interest:

Kia Carnival Ltd (2010) — Road Test

Hyundai Santa Fe CRDi Elite (2010) — Road Test

Jeep Cherokee Sport (2010) — Road Test

Honda Odyssey (2009) — Road Test

Dodge Journey SXT (2010) – Specifications

Powertrain
2.7L DOHC 24V V6 PETROL
Power kW @ rpm 136 @ 5,500
Torque N.m @ rpm 256 @ 4,000
Transmission 6-speed automatic with Auto Stick  with manual shift mode
Alternator (A) 140 160
Battery 525-amp maintenance free
Service interval, primary (km) 12,000
Fuel economy – combined (L/100km) 10.3
Fuel economy – urban (L/100km) 15.0
Fuel economy – extra-urban (L/100km) 7.6
CO2 emissions (g/km) 246

Warranty
Warranty duration 36-month/100,000km
Emergency 24-hour  road-side assistance 36-month

Wheels and Tyres
— Wheel size, material 17″ alloy
— Tyre size 225/65R17 BSW Touring
— Spare Compact

Brakes
— Type 4-wheel disc anti-lock (ABS)
— Discs – front/rear (mm) 302×28/305×12
— Calipers – front/rear (mm) 66/43

Steering
— Type Firm-feel power rack and pinion
— Lock-to-lock 2.9
— Turning diameter (m) 11.7 11.9

Suspension
— Type — front Independent MacPherson struts with cast lower control arms, stabiliser bars and  high-strength steel coil springs
— Type — rear Independent multi-link with trailing arm, bi-lateral links, stabiliser bars and high-strength steel coil springs

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