“Sports Utility Vehicle”, most simply settle for the acronym SUV. But irrespective of knowing what it stands for this is a seemingly must have category for many a burgeoning family. The options are endless with small, medium and large varieties, five or seven seat combinations, some have off-road ability via AWD and many offer decent towing credentials. But the one thing all SUV’s have in common is that dominant driving position which tickles the fancy of many a motorist. A real left field option is the Dodge Journey, a mid-sized people mover style vehicle that strangely competes in Australia with the rebadged Fiat Freemont. The only point of difference being a smaller engine on the Fiat. EFTM recently spent some time behind the wheel of the top spec Dodge Journey R/T
Engine: 3.6-litre Pentastar® V6 petrol.
Transmission: 6-speed automatic (FWD)
Vital Stats: Power 206kW @ 6,350rpm
Torque: 342Nm @ 4,350rmp
Dodge Claimed Fuel Economy: 10.4/100km
EFTM Claimed Fuel Economy: 11.0/100km
MRRP Price: $43,500
Wow Factor: The R/T model certainly mounts a strong case on the equipment front. Over the base SXT model it scores attractive 19” alloys, Tri-zone air conditioning, sunroof, leather coated steering wheel, leather trimmed seats, heated exterior mirrors, heated front seats, satellite navigation, premium audio system with 6-speakers and subwoofer plus a second row overhead 9-inch video screen with wireless headphones and remote. A third row 50/50 folding flat seat can also be optioned. Oh and there’s an LED torch hidden away in the rear luggage bay, I discovered this after permanently misplacing the proximity key. (We really are sorry Dodge)
Most Impressive: Anyone who’s familiar with the Chrysler 300 range will immediately feel at ease with the Dodge Journey’s cabin layout, in may ways it’s a Chrysler 300 on stilts. The Uconnect Multimedia system is one of the better ones and is presented via a generously sized 8.4-inch touch screen. Most of the switch gear, dash design and instrument cluster are near identical to the big American sedan except the overall feel of the Journey is naturally more van like.
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Not So Impressive: The sole Dodge variant in Australia has a number of hurdles that may prove insurmountable. Sales will rely heavily on buyers falling for style over substance. There’s no doubt the Dodge Journey and the R/T model in particular is comprehensively equipped, but to be blunt it’s not a good drive. A discerning driver will immediately detect the vague steering, the roly-poly handling and the yesterday feel of the drivetrain. Personally I was shocked to experience brake shudder during more forceful stopping scenarios, the test car had hardly ticked over 2000km. But having said that, at $43,500 there’s still acceptable comfort, acres of space and clean simple looks that may win over the odd bargain hunter.