In many ways, the Dodge Journey isn’t so much what it is, it’s what it isn’t. First of all, it isn’t a minivan. It’s deliberately not a minivan. Minivans have sliding doors. The Journey’s doors all have hinges. And Dodge has the Grand Caravan, the earthmother of all minivans.
It’s not an SUV, because it doesn’t have, nor attempt, off-road credibility. And Dodge already has the Durango. And it isn’t a station wagon, because Dodge tried that with the Dodge Magnum and, well, it died due to a lack of interest.
The closest thing it might be is a crossover, because…well, but who here thinks it looks like a crossover? Which means, it’s a…Dodge Journey.
If we had to choose, however, we’d say the Dodge Journey most resembles a minivan. It differs in profile, however, with its longer hood, and make whatever Freudian analysis you may, the Journey comes off more masculine as a result.
Yet in doing what a minivan does best, family friendly volume on wheels, the Journey comes up short. As we noted in our first review of the Dodge Journey back in 2012, the Dodge Journey is a foot shorter than the Dodge Grand Caravan, is a half-foot narrower, and the rear opening under the liftgate is less than a yard high, not nearly as much as a Grand Caravan’s.
Yet the Dodge Journey is still good for dad, mom, and the kids, with seats as tricky in their own ways as the Chrysler/Dodge minivans’ Stow ‘n Go system. It has three row seating, and the second row seating slides fore and aft, coming all the way up against the back of the front seat, good for checking on the bambino in a rear-facing baby safety seat. Our test 2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad Plus had optional second row seats with integrated child booster seats—they lift up and back out of the main cushion—for kids who’ve outgrown child seats.
With the second row moved forward, the third row gains legroom, but the relatively low roof doesn’t make entry easy, and the third row seats aren’t very far off the floor, so adult knees are uncomfortably high. Put the kids in the back.
When the third row is in use, cargo volume shrinks to a mere ten cubic feet, or about that of a compact car. The Journey has underfloor storage bins in front of the second row seats, but those are more convenient for storage, which is to say not really for bringing stuff home from the supermarket.
The good news is that the third, and for that matter, the second row seatbacks fold easily and make a flat load floor. The front passenger seatback also folds to carry really long items home from the lumber yard.
One final storage trick: As a part of Customer Preferred Package 28V, the seat cushion of the front passenger seat hinges open for a hidden storage bin. It’s good for something you won’t need when you have a front seat passenger.
With all that seating and cargo utility, there’s a good chance the a Dodge Journey will be toting about more than than its 3,818 pound base curb weight, and for the base 2.4-liter engine and four-speed automatic of the 2016 Dodge Journey, that’s a lot. The engine makes a mere 174 horsepower and 166 lb-ft of torque, and the latter way up at 4000 rpm, so we’d expect the four-cylinder Journey to need a lot of room to merge into traffic, especially with people and cargo aboard.
We’ve driven the Journey with FCA’s ubiquitous 3.6-liter V-6, both for the 2012 review and the current go ‘round, and with the six-speed automatic (not the nine-speed yet, Dodge?), the Journey performs admirably in traffic. It’s no Hellcat but merges should be largely terror-free.
Equipped with the V-6, the 2016 Journey can also be outfitted with all-wheel drive rather than the standard front-wheel drive. The advantage of all-wheel drive is obvious to Snow Belt drivers, but it also eliminates the torque steer that tugs at the steering when accelerating hard from rest or in first gear, which is important for those who do that a lot. It also comes in handy for anyone who goes off-pavement, such as at campsites or similar places Active Lifestyle Families go, or needs to pull a personal watercraft trailer up a wet boat ramp.