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Dodge Journey R/T (copyright image)

Mark Walker with the Dodge Journey R/T

ROAD TEST:   Dodge Journey R/T   (diesel)

by Mark Walker

22nd May, 2009

Home > Road Tests > Chrysler LLC > Dodge

The new Dodge Journey is the latest addition to Chrysler's expanding range of vehicles in Australia. The Journey looks like a chunky SUV. But it’s really a two wheel drive people mover.

The Dodge Journey is available in two trim levels and it has two engines on offer. Locally, the entry level is the SXT and it is available only with the 2.7 litre V6 petrol engine. The higher spec model, the R/T, is available with a choice between a 2.0 litre diesel or the 2.7 litre V6 engine.

The vehicle driven, for this road test, was the top-of-the-line Dodge Journey R/T. The test car was fitted with the 2.0 litre four cylinder turbocharged diesel engine with a dual-clutch 6 speed automatic transmission. The little diesel engine puts out a meagre 103 kilowatts of power, but it has 310 Nm of torque between 1,750 & 2,500 rpm to pull a hefty 1,750 kilogrammes of car plus its load. It copes surprisingly well, although it could be more refined. The acceleration is acceptable, not express (0-100 in 13.2 seconds) but it's a good compromise to achieve reasonable fuel economy.

The diesel has a 'combined cycle' fuel usage of 7.0 litres per 100 kms. This is quite neat when compared to the 2.7 litre V6 petrol which consumes 47% more fuel.

Dodge Journey R/T (copyright image)

Dodge Journey R/T (copyright image)

Dodge Journey R/T (copyright image)

Dodge Journey R/T (copyright image)

Dodge Journey R/T (copyright image)

Dodge Journey R/T (copyright image)

The Journey is equipped with a 77 litre fuel tank, allowing a maximum range well over 1,000 kms per tank, particularly if doing highway driving when the consumption drops to a very reasonable 5.9 litres per 100 kms, which could extend the maximum range out to around 1,300 kms. Strangely, the fuel filler cap requires unlocking with a key that is hidden inside the ignition key.

The engine noise, when driving around town, lets the Journey down. You may find it necessary to turn the radio volume up. The turbo diesel feels more at ease when cruising on the freeway and it allows for confident overtaking when required.

The Journey handles like an SUV. It floats around corners with a reasonable amount of body roll. The R/T is fitted with 19” machined cast aluminium wheels and 225/55R19 tyres. The brakes are responsive and capable of smooth, quick stops. The automatic gearbox struggles to take the load of the heavy Dodge on hill starts causing an awkward sensation of rolling backwards, despite the fitment of a 'Hill Start Assist' feature (which is included with the automatic transmission).

On the inside, the Journey impresses with its space. The high driving position gives the feel of an SUV, offering excellent forward vision and the auto-dimming rear view mirror is a good feature. The dash is soft touch plastic with a silver coloured centre housing the air conditioning and sound system. The air conditioning is tri-zone - being driver, passenger and rear compartment and it does a good job cooling the substantial space of the Journey. The second row passengers have access to simple roof mounted controls for their 'zone'.

The steering wheel mounted audio controls are neatly tucked behind the wheel and easy to use – there aren’t any wheel mounted gear shift paddles or buttons. The exterior mirrors can be quickly folded from a button on the driver’s door which is a neat feature. This comes in handy in parking lots when squeezing the big Journey into a tight space.

The Dodge Journey R/T is fitted with leather seats as standard – with the front seats heated. The front seats are comfortable but have a flat base and very little side support when cornering. The upside is very easy access.

The three rows of seating can accommodate 7 people. The second row provides ample space and reasonable comfort for 3 adults. However, the third row offers minimal legroom and is therefore only suitable for children. Importantly, the second row slides forward with ease to provide good access to the third row of seats.

The versatile rear seating can be folded flat without fuss to provide a large, convenient cargo space. With all seats in place the rear cargo space is 397 litres. When the rear two rows are folded flat, the available cargo space expands to a generous 1,479 litres. The front passenger seat can also be folded flat for even more useable space.

Additional storage space is offered by under floor bins that can be removed for cleaning and also in seat bins. The glove compartment is split with the upper storage section being cooled to store canned drinks. Cooled by the air conditioning system, the “Chill Zone” is built for 330 ml cans but 375 ml cans do squeeze in. The rear space is not protected by a cargo blind. However, the rear privacy glass and dark trim does well to reduce light and thus assist to conceal the contents.

Occupants are protected by driver and passenger air bags in the front, front seat mounted side air bags plus side curtain air bags in all three rows. The driver is supported by anti-lock brakes with brake assist and Electronic Stability Programme with traction control.

The Dodge Journey range starts at $36,990 plus on road costs for the SXT, the entry level model. The Journey SXT is only available with the 2.7L V6 and the 6 speed automatic transmission. The range topping Journey R/T is priced from $41,990 plus on roads for the V6 petrol model, rising to $46,990 plus on road costs for the 2.0 litre turbo diesel paired with the 6 speed dual clutch automatic gearbox. There are plenty of convenient options including the MYGIG entertainment system with 30GB internal hard drive, GPS and DVD playback and the important safety option, the Rear Back-Up Camera.

In summary, the Dodge Journey R/T turbo diesel is not going to excite drivers with its driving dynamics. However, as it offers masses of space and versatility, there is a segment of the market which will appreciate this new Dodge. It will appeal to families (and others) who value such attributes.


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