by Morgan Carter
After more than a decade on the market, the Dodge Journey is still playing the same old song, with very few new notes added during that time. While this does set it quite a bit behind more modern midsize SUVs, it also means that the Dodge doesn't ask for as much of an investment, making it very appealing to budget shoppers. However, those with value in mind will be put off by the lack of smartphone integration or advanced safety features like blind-spot monitoring. Where the Journey does manage to remain competitive is its passenger space and affordability, but this is offset by terrible cargo space and subpar fuel economy. Against extremely capable rivals like the Kia Sorento and Honda Pilot, the Dodge Journey just doesn't have the kind of appeal it needs to survive the new decade, especially now that it only offers the weaker 173-horsepower four-cylinder engine.
Dodge has made things a little easier for buyers in 2020 by reducing the Journey lineup to just two trims, deleting the GT and upper SE trims as well as all-wheel-drive availability. However, this simplification also deletes the previously available V6, leaving the SUV with only the weak four-cylinder engine. Both remaining trims come standard with rear park assist, while the Crossroad gets a sunroof. The Popular Equipment Group is a new package this year, adding an upgraded infotainment suite with SiriusXM, tri-zone climate control, and premium cloth upholstery to the SE Value, while it further adds navigation, heated front seats, and remote start to the Crossroad.
While it won't stand out on the road, the Journey is a reservedly handsome SUV. The SE Value rides on 17-inch alloys and gets automatic halogen headlights with daytime running lights. Its grille is chrome-accented, and its body-color lower bumper is solid with mesh air vents. The Crossroad gets larger 19-inch alloy wheels and adds fog lights and LED taillights, as well as a power sunroof. It also gets a black-accented grille and a more stylish lower bumper that hosts the fog lights and a reverse V-frame metal bar. The side sills on the upper trim receive chrome accents, as do the standard roof rails.
The Journey is a bit on the large side for a midsize SUV, measuring in at 192.4 inches long with a 113.8-inch wheelbase. It also stands pretty tall at 66.6 inches, but its width of 72.2 inches helps the Dodge fit in around the parking lot. The SE Value has a curb weight of 3,818 lbs, while the Crossroad gains a couple hundred pounds to weigh in at 4,054 lbs.
For 2020, only seven paints make up the color palette for the Dodge Journey. However, there are no restrictions and no premium options. Buyers can choose from Pitch Black, Granite Pearl, Destroyer Grey, Billet, Contusion Blue, Redline, and Vice White.
Unfortunately, the Dodge Journey no longer has access to the more capable V6 engine that it once did. Instead, buyers are stuck with the 173-hp four-cylinder engine. Moving the two-ton SUV is a herculean task for this powertrain, so the fact that it can do it at all is impressive. However, don't expect to get the Journey up to 60 mph in less than ten seconds. The four-cylinder engine also can't be paired with the previously available all-wheel drivetrain, so this is just another option that many rivals offer over the very basic Dodge. The four-cylinder engine also limits the crossover to a maximum towing capacity of 1,000 lbs, where rivals like the Kia Sorento can manage five times as much.
For 2020, the only engine available under the hood of the Journey is the 2.4-liter 16-valve inline-four-cylinder engine that develops 173 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque. The four-speed automatic gearbox that comes paired with this engine is about as old as the very first Dodge Journey, and it directs power to the front wheels only, where many rivals give the option of all-wheel-drive. This engine is technically adequate, as it does actually move the bulky SUV, but it is far from competent. Acceleration is lethargic, and passing on the highway is nearly impossible if the car in front of you is actually moving at all. It's hard to comprehend why Dodge dropped the more useful V6 engine from the lineup when the Journey is already struggling to remain relevant.
Few vehicles age very well, with most undergoing midlife updates just three or four years into their production cycle. The Journey is now more than ten years old, and it really feels its age. It handles like a rickety old man on roller skates when on the move, to be honest. The steering is imprecise and uncommunicative, with terrible on-center feel. Combine this with the SUV's extreme weight, and it certainly isn't designed to take a corner faster than a Rascal. At low speed or around parking lots, the Journey actually feels manageable.
The brakes follow the same trend as the steering, being quite effective at lower speeds around town, but they struggle to get traction at higher speeds. But as disconcerting as this may be, the Journey's handling is even more unsettling. Body roll is a serious issue, and the Dodge simply doesn't grip the road as firmly as it needs to.
All-in-all, maybe we should be grateful that the Journey only has the puny four-cylinder engine available. At low speeds around town, the crossover doesn't feel as horribly incompetent as it is, but go any faster, and it delivers a harrowing experience. And you can't even take comfort in the seats, as ride comfort is mediocre at best, and unpleasant most of the time.
While the previously available V6 engine has been dropped from the Journey's equipment list, the weak four-cylinder engine is still here to stay, with absolutely no changes. This means that it still gets the pretty unimpressive mileage figures it did last year - 19/25/21 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles. The all-wheel drivetrain is also no longer offered since it was always paired with the V6. Regardless, the Journey doesn't stack up well against the competition, with rivals like the Honda Pilot boasting 20/27/23 mpg in its more efficient guise. Still, the Dodge Journey has a relatively sizable 20.5-gallon tank, and it burns regular gasoline, so refilling after covering 430 miles won't hurt that much.
In this price range, you shouldn't expect too much from the Journey. If you can stick to that philosophy, you won't be disappointed too much. The cabin is appointed in lower-grade materials with plenty of hard surfaces all-round, and its styling hasn't changed much over the last decade. The infotainment is extremely basic, but that also makes it easy to use, but the lack of any real advanced driver-assistance features is a bit alarming in a family crossover. And while the cargo capacity is minuscule, passenger space for the first two rows of seats is above average. If you keep the mostly useless third row of seats folded down for extra trunk space, the Journey is actually a pretty practical daily driver.
Up to seven passengers can be accommodated within the spacious cabin of the Dodge Journey. Naturally, those up front have the most comfort with plenty of head- and legroom to spare, but the second-row seats don't fall that short, supplying enough space to seat an adult with relative comfort. Not uncommon for the segment, the third row of seats is extremely cramped, meaning only smaller children should be seated there. Getting in and out is pretty easy, but accessing the third-row seats does take some effort. The driver's seat offers six directions of adjustability, either manual or power, depending on trim, so it's not hard to find a comfortable position. Forward visibility is good, but rear visibility is pretty poor, especially with all the seats occupied.
The interior of the Journey is about as budget as the SUV's price tag, with cheap materials used throughout the construction. The SE Value comes upholstered in Sedoso cloth, with color options including Black or Light Frost Beige, while leather is available in the same hues. The Crossroad gets upgraded leather upholstery in standard Black with mesh inserts. Hard plastics abound throughout the cabin, giving it a much cheaper feeling than what many rivals offer, with no option to improve.
While the Dodge Journey might boast pretty impressive passenger space, it drops the ball when it comes to cargo capacity. With all the seats in place, only 10.7 cubic feet of space is provided, which is subpar for the segment. It's enough space for a handful of grocery bags but certainly not a full day's shopping, and it certainly won't serve any practical function for seven passengers. But if you fold down both rows of rear seats, you get access to a much more useful 67.6 cubic feet of space. If you ever intend to use the Journey as a daily errand-runner, you'll probably need to leave the third-row seats down.
Small-item storage is far more generous. The first- and second-row seats each get cupholders, and all four doors supply spacious door pockets. Storage bins are supplied within the front and rear armrest, and under the passenger seat. There is a standard glove compartment and the Crossroad gets a small overhead storage bin.
As an aging crossover that places emphasis on affordability, the Dodge Journey doesn't really offer a lot in the way of standard tech features. However, the entry-level model isn't too poorly equipped with cloth upholstery, a six-way manual driver's seat, keyless entry and ignition, cruise control, a rearview camera, rear park assist, dual-zone climate control, and four 12-volt power outlets. This offering is upgraded to leather upholstery, a six-way power driver's seat with lumbar, automatic tri-zone climate control, and a power sunroof on the Crossroad. A heated steering wheel and heated front seats are available as part of the Popular Equipment package. However, no further advanced driver-assistance features are available.
The Journey gets saddled with an extremely basic infotainment suite, centering around a tiny 4.3-inch touchscreen interface, although the Crossroad gets the larger 8.4-inch screen. No smartphone integration or Wi-Fi is offered, although navigation with SiriusXM Traffic can be added to the Crossroad with the Popular Equipment Package. The standard six-speaker sound system supports AM/FM/CD/MP3 playback, which can be upgraded to a six-speaker premium sound system with a subwoofer that adds SiriusXM and additional USB ports. A rear-seat entertainment system, comprising a fold-down nine-inch screen with wireless headphones can be added to the Crossroad, too.
After scoring a disappointing 69 out of 100 from J.D. Power back in 2018, the Dodge Journey has not been rated for dependability again. However, no recalls have been recorded since 2018, either, so perhaps the SUV is a little more dependable these days. Among the 2018 recalls were issues pertaining to delayed rearview camera images, insufficient coating on the rear brake calipers, faulty cruise control, and problems with the voltage regulator.
For 2020, new purchases are covered by a 36,000-mile/36-month basic warranty, while the powertrain warranty and roadside assistance plan are valid for 60,000 miles/60 months.
The NHTSA gives the Journey an overall safety rating of four out of five stars with a full five-star rating for side crash evaluations, while the majority of the tests performed by the IIHS returned a rating of Good. Only the small overlap front on the driver-side crash test was scored Poor, but so, too, were the headlights.
As an eminently affordable SUV, the Journey doesn't get an overly complicated standard safety suite. Mechanical safety features comprise ABS, stability and traction control, and seven airbags: dual front, driver knee, front side, and side curtain. Apart from the standard rearview camera, both trims also get rear park assist. No further advanced safety features are available, which is quite disappointing in a modern family vehicle.
Some people say the journey is more important than the destination, but in the case of the Dodge Journey, that simply isn't the case. Looking back to a time when Oprah was still telling us her favorite things, maybe this SUV would have made her list, but it's well past its prime now. Over more than 10 years, very few changes have been made to keep it relevant, so against ultra-modern crossovers like the Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander, the Dodge simply can't compete.
Yes, the Journey is quite spacious inside, at least where passengers are concerned, but the sub-par materials and poor ride quality mean that no amount of space will actually make you comfortable. When you then consider that the standard trunk space is abysmal, the SUV just doesn't feel like a good family-centric daily driver.
The Dodge may have a low starting price, but most rivals ask for just a few thousand dollars more and give you a lot more. The Journey has no smartphone integration, onboard Wi-Fi, or any advanced driver-assistance features worth mentioning. Add to this the now almost antique engine under the hood, and the crossover simply doesn't look like a good value proposition. So, no, we don't think that the Dodge Journey is a good car.
With the simplification of the available trim and equipment levels on the 2020 Journey, shopping around has become a lot simpler. The SE Value remains the base model, now at a starting MSRP of $23,495. The only remaining upgrade is the Crossroad, which pushes the price up to $28,595. The all-wheel drivetrain is no longer offered, so this is where the base-level options end. There are still a number of available packages, but any way you look at it, the Dodge Journey is one of the most affordable SUVs on the market. These prices exclude tax, registration, licensing, and Dodge's $1,495 destination charge.
Only two models comprise the Dodge Journey range for 2020: the SE Value and the Crossroad. With the deletion of the V6, both models can only be powered by the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Paired with an uninspired four-speed automatic gearbox, this powertrain directs 172 hp and 165 lb-ft to the front wheels only.
The base-level SE Value rides on 17-inch alloy wheels and comes equipped with automatic halogen headlights and daytime running lights. Basic cloth upholsters the interior, with standard features including dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera, cruise control, remote keyless entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a six-way manual driver's a seat, a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, four 12-volt power outlets, a 4.3-inch touchscreen interface, and a six-speaker sound system that supports AM/FM/MP3 playback.
The Crossroad upgrades to 19-inch alloy wheels and adds fog lights and LED taillights. Inside, the cloth is upgraded to leather with a six-way power driver's seat, and automatic tri-zone climate control comes standard. Other standard features include a larger 8.4-inch touchscreen display, SiriusXM, and a power sunroof.
The available packages for the Journey have been streamlined for the reduced model range, with the SE Value only getting access to the Blacktop Package ($645), which adds 17-inch black-painted alloys, black headlight bezels, and a gloss black grille; and the new SE Popular Equipment Group ($1,595), which adds Uconnect voice command with Bluetooth, tri-zone climate control, a six-way power driver's seat with four-way lumbar, and SiriusXM. The Crossroad gets its own Popular Equipment Group ($1,595), adding navigation, SiriusXM Traffic, a six-speaker premium sound system, a heated steering wheel and front seats, and remote start. The upper trim also gets the Rear Seat Video Group ($995), which comprises a nine-inch fold-down video screen, a six-speaker premium sound system, wireless headphones, and a remote control.
With even fewer choices this year, it really comes down to whether you want the most economical or the most well-equipped of the two very basic SUVs. But when you look at just how bare-bones the SE Value is, even with its Popular Equipment Group, it's hard to justify the purchase. The automatic climate control, six-way power front seats, and larger infotainment display on the Crossroad are hard to pass up. You may still want to spring for the Popular Equipment Group for the navigation and heated front seats, but if you want to keep your final price below $30k, then you can probably do without it, especially since rear park assist is now standard.
Only slightly younger than the Journey, the Dodge Durango occupies a segment one position higher than its little brother. It still offers seating for seven passengers, but it has quite a bit more cargo space in the 17.2-cubic-foot trunk. It also gets a far more competent powertrain lineup with the standard V6 engine delivering 293 hp and 260 lb-ft, while the available V8 puts out 360 hp and a whopping 390 lb-ft. It certainly feels sprier on the road, getting up to speed in around six seconds. The Durango has also made more effort to stay modern, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto coming standard, while blind spot monitoring, forward collision alert, and rear cross-traffic alert are available. It may cost a bit more than the Journey, but with all this extra value, the Durango is still the better deal at $30,495 MSRP.
Another seven-seater SUV in the midsize segment, the Kia Sorento is a capable and affordable rival to the Journey. And while the Kia may be a little smaller, it still supplies usable second-row seats and a slightly larger 11.3-cubic-foot trunk. But this is the only area where it is actually comparable to the Dodge Journey. When it comes to standard tech, the Sorento is in a whole other league, with a modern infotainment suite that supports smartphone integration, and plenty of available safety features like forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and a surround-view camera. Add to this a choice of two engines, including a very capable 290-hp V6, and the Kia Sorento leaves the Dodge Journey in the dust like the fossil it is.
Check out some informative Dodge Journey video reviews below.