When Dodge took on the task of updating its entire line, the guys on the 2011 Dodge Journey must have sighed a big sigh of relief…and then got to work on what most people didn’t know needed fixing. After all, the 2010 Dodge Journey was good enough and we said so in our review of the 2009 Journey SXT AWD. It was, we said using other words, the un-minivan and gave it tepid praise.
Lukewarm doesn’t boil any eggs, however, and it doesn’t sell cars either. So when the Chrysler group’s thirteen-month forced march began, the seven-seat crossover Dodge Journey was made the trip as well.
More than automotive rhinoplasty While revisions to the front fascia could be expected, what came out of it was more than the facelift one might have expected. Although Dodge engineers kept the basic unit body chassis as was, the underpinnings were upgraded, with new rear suspension geometry and increased shock size front and rear. The front MacPherson strut suspension continues but the steering gear was stiffened for more precise steering.
While the Chrysler Group minivans have given up all-wheel drive in favor of Stow ‘n Go seating, the Dodge Journey offers all-wheel drive as an option. An on-demand system, the Journey’s all-wheel drive system operates in fuel-saving front drive mode until conditions or the driver’s actions triggers the Journey’s all-wheel drive system.
AWD here, not there All-wheel drive, however, is offered only with the all new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engines that will define ubiquitous under Chrysler Group hoods. It’s a 20 percent increase in output over the previous 3.5-liter V-6. Also new is the six-speed automatic transmission that will be paired with the 3.5 Pentastar across the Chrysler Group line.
The 2.4-liter inline-four World Gas Engine along with a four-speed automatic transmission is standard equipment in the 2011 Dodge Journey Express. It’s the Dodge dealer’s express checkout line, with fewer standard features and a limited number of options. With only 173 horsepower and 166 lb-ft of torque in a seven-passenger van with a curb weight of 3,800 lbs, the Express won’t live up to its name when it comes to acceleration,however, and uphills will be a challenge as well.
The 3.6-liter V-6/six-speed automatic is standard in all other trim levels of the 2011 Dodge Journey. New nomenclature and packaging for the Journey include Mainstreet, Crew, R/T and Lux. As one might expect, Lux is top of the line and is like the Express in that it has few options. Most of the good stuff is standard equipment, with only the rear seat video package, sunroof, trailer tow group and a few other items optional. Mainstreet fits between Express and Crew, making power mirrors, UConnect with Sirius satellite radio, and alloy wheels standard, with a wider palette of options.
Down on mainstreet… The 2011 Dodge Journey Crew adds standard equipment to Mainstreet, with fog lights, Flip ‘n Stow front seat (one of Express’ few options)and Tilt ‘n Slide second row seats, 19-inch wheels and more bright trim among other standard items.
The 2011 Dodge Journey R/T is positioned as the hotrod of the Journey set but won’t be available until spring. The engine and transmission won’t change, only R/T-exclusive 19-inch wheels, special cloth interior and a body color grille setting it off from other Journey trim levels. We were hoping for maybe sport suspension.
Our first drive in the 2011 Dodge Journey, however, proved the value of the Journey’s basic suspension upgrade. The Journey doesn’t hustle around corners like a sports car or even most four-door sedans. It’s taller and has a higher hip point for the driver, and its longish wheelbase means it’s not a quick turner.
Not in the way But the 2011 Dodge Journey can be driven on winding roads without becoming a rolling roadblock and it’s quite possible the Journey will be the vehicle following slower traffic rather than the other way around. It feels good in corners and stable on the straights. The new engine gives the Journey merge power and gumption in reserve on the highway.
Dodge engineers worked on sound deadening and increasing barriers for vibration and harshness for the 2011 Journey. It’s noticeably quiet and should make conversation with all three rows possible as well as make travel pleasanter.
Dodge didn’t have to make all the improvements for the 2011 Dodge Journey, not unless the Chrysler Group wanted to stay in business. But this was a trip worth taking because the journey to oblivion is paved with “good enough.”
2011 Dodge Journey Prices
Dodge Journey Express: $22,245
Dodge Journey Mainstreet: $24,245
Dodge Journey Crew: $29,240
Dodge Journey R/T: $28,245
Dodge Journey Lux: $32,740
(Prices do not include $750 destination charge.)
2011 Dodge Journey Crew, key specifications
Body style/layout:4-door 5/7 passenger crossover van, front engine/front- or all-wheel drive
- Type: 3.6-liter 24-valve DOHC V-6
- Displacement, cc: 3518
- Block/head material: aluminum/aluminum
- Horsepower: 283 hp @ 6350 rpm
- Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
- Recommended fuel: unleaded regular/Ethanol E85
- Fuel economy, EPA est.: 17/25 mpg city/highway (FWD); 16/24 mpg city/highway (AWD)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
- Suspension, front/rear: MacPherson strut / multi-link
- Wheels: 19 x 7.0-inch alloy
- Tires: 225/55R19
- Brakes: 4-wheel disc; 11.9-inch dia. front/12.0-inch dia. rear
- Steering: power rack-and-pinion
- Turning circle: 39.0
- Wheelbase: 113.8 in.
- Length: 192.4 in.
- Height: 66.6 in.
- Width: 72.2 in.
- Curb weight, lbs.: 3,884 (FWD) – 4,195 (AWD)
- Cargo volume, min – max:10.7 – 67.6 cu. ft.
- Fuel tank, gal.: 20.5 (FWD), 21.1 (AWD)
Warranty:10-year/100,00 mile powertrain; 3-year/36,000 bumper-to-bumper