The sensible alternative
The Dodge Journey should actually be a huge success, not just in its native states of unity. Just like us, most people misinterpreted the SUV or 4×4 and their capabilities, defending their purchases of unwieldy beasts with reasons like safety and space.
Eeenk, wrong. If your foh-by-foh enjoys the odd bit of dirt between its tires then you may be excused. Well done. But if the shiny behemoth never conquers more than rush hour traffic, then what’s the point of your purchase?
Yes, it’s big and yes, it will (in most cases) be better off if metal meets metal, but remember the old proverb – prevention is better than a cure. Big, heavy, four-wheel-drives will struggle to stay out of trouble more than a regular sedan or station wagon.
But it’s just marvellous to move a little too much weight through town and that’s what the guys from Dodge were aiming at. The Journey is not a boring minibus, but it’s also not a pointless four-wheel-drive monstrosity either.
Trade in the thirsty and top-heavy SUV for a Journey and you won’t even experience withdrawal symptoms. It’s quite a sizable thing, minus the high centre of gravity and unnecessary drive-train components. The concept is truly brilliant, but nobody except the Dodge dudes knows it. And me, obviously.
I’m serious – if you enjoy the “safe” 4×4 feeling you won’t be disappointed by a Dodge Journey. You sit higher up than in a regular vehicle and enjoy the generous amount of space and comfort that big SUV’s deliver. And everybody who meets the car is astonished to learn that it’s not a 4×4. “Really? But it’s so big…”
Locally, the Dodge Journey is available with two engines – a 2.7 liter V6 petrol and a 2-litre in-line 4-cylinder turbo-diesel. The 136kW (185hp) V6 is available in two derivates; the luxury SXT and the more sporty RT. The 2.0 CRD turbo-diesel is exclusively sold with the RT package.
Last year I tested the 2.7 petrol SXT Journey and quickly grew fond of its little V6. Its relatively small cylinders struggled a little with the heavy bod of Journey, but that just gives you a feeble excuse to rev the nuts and bolts off the wonderfully husky motor. As you can imagine, this doesn’t exactly promote its fuel consumption.
Inevitable I was curious to test the 2.0 CRD with its superior torque and consumption figures. The turbo-diesel has a conspicuous power gap on pull-away but once the turbine struts its stuff you’ll enjoy a wallop of torque and pulling power.
The 103kW (140hp) 2-liter is, atypical for a diesel, not afraid of revs with smooth power delivery right up to 4 500 rpm. Its maximum torque reports for duty at a pleasingly low 1 750 rpm and, together with the Getrag double-clutch automatic gearbox, delivers its power in a calm and relentless manner.
Journey’s road holding and handling is also surprisingly good; it’s not a rock-hard sports car, but also not a softy four-wheel-drive. Its suspension is set up for comfort and the body leans a bit in corners, but with those fat tires you’ll get further than expected until the dozen electronic safety nets jump into action.
The vehicle is surely batting its eyes at young (and large) families, which is evident from its 5+2 seating configuration. Dodge nicked a few interior items from Chrysler and Jeep, the instrument panel pays tribute to old Dodge minivans, and the various trim items are acceptable rather than impressive.
I immediately liked its two-tone leather seats that can all fold in all sorts of manners or disappear altogether. Adults will quickly start complaining in the furthest rear seats, but they offer plenty of room and comfort for children.
The possible seating and loading arrangements are fantastic. The Journey has a very versatile interior and the hard plastic surfaces will be most welcome for parents with toddlers and small children. Yes, some are a bit cheap-looking but also tremendously hard-wearing. I can’t think of many other new cars that aren’t afraid of crayons or soft serve.
Big buttons and controls from the Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge shopping cart complete a simple interior design; with the exception of the Journey’s 6 CD/DVD/navigation/bluetooth infinity sound system. The double-din unit has dozens of buttons and functions, and any new owner would do well to study all this trickery before they set off on a journey. In their Journey.
The sound quality from its radio, CD, DVD, ipod or other music player is extraordinary; Mum and/or Dad will surely abuse the volume button on their way back from the school run. They’ll have to pay N$287 900 for the basic V6 model or up to N$394 900 for the CRD RT. And best of all, they won’t even miss the cumbersome and pointless 4×4.