Dodge discovered the perfect recipe for the mommy-mobile when they introduced the first front wheel drive minivan back in 1983. But today, with minivans almost a dirty word around fathers, the more acceptable new slang is crossover. Now the idea is to make the old minivan a bit tougher and a lot more innovative. So enter the Dodge Journey, a fresh crossover utility from the minivan pioneer. So, let’s see if this Journey should be on your household’s trip.

Dodge calls it their “Family Friendly Crossover Vehicle.”  The new 2009 Dodge Journey smartly combines the best attributes of an SUV with those of the brand’s own pioneering minivans. So, the basic premise of the Journey is ‘rugged and practical’ meets ‘comfortable and safe.’

The 5- and 7-passenger mid-size Journey shares its D-Platform with the Dodge Avenger Sedan.  At first glance, the Journey is more SUV than anything else.  It looks “Dodge-tough” from stem to stern. The chunky rear-end of the vehicle features an oversized hatch and on most trims, sporty dual chrome exhaust, and the entire package rides on 16-, 17-, or our top-of-the-line R/T tester’s 19-inch bright aluminum wheels.

Within, the Journey offers a comfortable and flexible two- or three-row cabin.  The well-arranged dash has welcomed European flair and texture, plus clear gauges and straight-forward controls, and there’s plenty of useful storage bins, from a compartment under the front passenger seat, to in-floor storage in the second row, plus, dual glove boxes with Chrysler’s signature Chill Zone beverage cooler.

There’s also available navigation with traffic alerts, a 368-watt Infinity audio system, rear back-up camera, and tri-zone climate control.  Other mindful touches included a flashlight, and an iPod/MP3 connector. 

The spacious three-passenger second row is easily accessed thanks to 90 degree rear door openings.  The second row also provides back and forth adjustment and two integrated child boosters as well as available rear DVD for hours of entertainment.  The optional two-person third-row seat splits 50/50 and is best suitable for children.

Drop the third and second rows to open up 67 cubic feet of cargo capacity.  But this falls way short of the 85 and 95 cubic feet of the Taurus X and Highlander, respectively.  A fold-flat front-passenger seat compensates for some of that shortage.

Standard Journey power is a 2.4-liter inline-four rating 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque. Most models, including our R/T tester, are outfitted with a 3.5-liter V6 with 235 horses, 232 pound-feet of torque, and a trailer tow capacity of 3,500 pounds.

Transmissions are 4- and 6-speed automatics, and staying true to the crossover formula, traction comes from front- or optional all-wheel drive.

Government Fuel Economy ratings for the four-cylinder version are 19 city/25 highway, while our front-wheel drive V6 rates at 16 city/23 highway.  We achieved 20.1 miles-per-regular-gallon in real world driving.

On the track, our Journey trotted from 0 to 60 in a respectable 8.3 seconds and completed the quarter-mile in 16.4 seconds at 86 miles-per-hour. Revs come up loudly but shifts are very smooth.

The Journey’s cushy feel comes from an all-independent suspension, with struts up front and multi-links in the rear.  There’s also standard electronic stability control with roll mitigation and all-speed traction control.

Braking comes from 4-wheel discs with ABS.  Fade free stops averaged a slightly long 134 feet from 60 to 0.

Pricing for the Dodge Journey is more than acceptable, beginning at $19,985 for SE trim.  The mid-level SXT starts at $22,985, while the top line R/T model has a base price of $26,545.  All-wheel drive on the R/T adds $1,750 more.

The 2009 Dodge Journey is a well-rounded and well-priced entry into the expanding crossover utility segment. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a more complete vehicle to keep the clan happy. On our roadmap, this Journey’s destination has “Family Friendly” written all over it.


  • Engine: R/t 3.5-Liter V6
  • Horsepower: 235
  • Torque: 232 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 8.3 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 16.4 Seconds @ 86 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 134 Feet
  • EPA: 16 MPG City/ 23 MPG Highway
  • Mixed Loop: 20.1 MPG