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2018 Dodge Journey Review

2018 Dodge Journey Review
The 2018 Dodge Journey should be available at big discounts, which is the only way we’d consider it over far more polished rivals.

The 2018 Dodge Journey is a low-cost, three-row crossover and not much else.
We’ve rated the Journey at 3.8 out of 10 points, reflecting its below-average safety scores and an interior that’s a step or three behind most of its competitors. 

This year, the Journey carries over unchanged from 2017 in what’s likely to be its last year before being replaced by a new crossover. The Journey is available in four trim levels—SE, SXT, Crossroad, and GT. Most models come standard with a 2.4-liter inline-4, while a 3.6-liter V-6 is optional (and mandatory if you want all-wheel drive). The Journey shows its age in many ways, but one is that it comes standard with a 4-speed automatic transmission. Rivals, including some within Dodge parent FCA’s lineup, now have twice as many gears.

The Journey rides well enough and handles with confidence, but it is neither especially quiet nor particularly refined. Both engines produce a rumble that intrudes into the cabin and there is considerable body lean even on the Journey GT.

A rugged-looking Journey Crossroad model channels some off-road style, but it’s not actually any more capable when the pavement ends than the rest of the lineup. It is equipped with leather upholstery and an 8.4-inch infotainment system, two modern touches that make it the most appealing model in the lineup. Stick with the entry-level Journey SE, however, and you’ll find only a basic audio system without Bluetooth or a CD player. Even a rearview camera requires stepping up to the Crossroad.

The Journey comes standard with seven seats, which may make it appealing to families on a budget. Its interior is less roomy than newer rivals, but its 192-inch overall length means it may fit into some garages where minivans like FCA’s own Chrysler Pacifica are a tight squeeze. Unfortunately, its family car credentials are let down by frighteningly bad crash-test scores and limited available high-tech safety features.

The 2018 Dodge Journey is a throwback, in all the wrong ways.

The 2018 Dodge Journey is the mom jeans equivalent of the automobile. It gets the job done, but it’s far from stylish.

We’ve pulled off a point for its dowdy exterior and another for an interior that’s functional without much flair. That brings it to a subpar 3 out of 10. 

Base Journey SEs are markedly downscale with their untinted window glass and their 17-inch steel wheels with plastic hubcaps. The Journey SXT dresses things up slightly with alloy wheels, LED taillights, body-color exterior mirrors, and foglamps. The Journey Crossroad channels a bit of Subaru-like rugged looks, but that’s not backed up by any increased four-wheeling capability. Chrome roof rails and an unpainted body kit look nice, making this the most eye-catching Journey of the bunch.

Inside, the Journey’s dashboard is straightforward but painfully dull. The dash itself is contoured with soft edges and attractive graining. It’s not a terrible place to whittle away the miles, but it’s hardly inspiring. Cloth upholstery is standard, but the leather and mesh setup in the Journey Crossroads is the most appealing look in this group.

Though it rides well, the 2018 Dodge Journey’s engines are grumbly.

The 2018 Dodge Journey rides well enough, but its transmissions and its base engine are well behind the times. Those factors add up to a below average 4 out of 10 here. 

A dour 2.4-liter inline-4 rated at 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque comes standard on all but the Journey GT when front-wheel drive is selected. It shuttles power forward via a 4-speed automatic, a relic of a different era. Not only is the engine grumbly, it’s simply not enough to motivate this 4,000-pound crossover with any sort of gusto. Unladen, the 2.4-liter is acceptable, but with a few passengers aboard, things become labored.

Better is the 3.6-liter V-6 that ups things to 283 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. It’s the must-have engine with all-wheel drive or with either version of the Journey GT. A 6-speed automatic is the only choice, and while it’s certainly better than the 4-speed paired to the 2.4-liter engine, this transmission is hardly state-of-the-art. The V-6 provides strong acceleration, but the automatic can sometimes fire off confused shifts and feels a bit lost at low speeds.
We have better things to say about the Journey’s ride and handling. Its hydraulic power steering hardly inspires performance driving, but it feels natural and centers well on the highway. Ride quality varies, with the standard 17-inch wheels delivering the most supple setup and the optional 19s trending toward jiggly on pockmarked pavement.

Comfort & Quality
The 2018 Dodge Journey’s interior is nicely configurable with decent enough room given its trim exterior proportions.

Where the 2018 Dodge Journey acquits itself best is in the way it parks passengers and their gear.

With three rows of seats and some useful storage bins scattered throughout, the Journey scores 6 out of 10 points here. 

Its front seats are about average with six-way adjustment for the driver but no height control for the passenger. The second row is really designed for two, although three can squeeze in for shorter rides. The bench itself slides fore and aft to open things up for more human or more passenger space. Row two’s folding mechanism isn’t as slick as some newer designs and access to the standard third row is really best for children—especially since there’s not a lot of room back there.

With both the second and third rows folded flat, the Journey offers a maximum of 67.6 cubic feet. But with all three raised, there’s just 10.7 cubes of storage space behind the third row. One nice perk is that the Journey’s second row can be ordered with two integrated boosters for children.

There’s plenty of room to store small items, including convenient under-seat storage bins in the second row’s floor.

No Journey is particularly luxurious inside, but the materials are generally pretty nice for the price. The standard cloth upholstery on SE and SXT models feels durable, but families may want to opt for the full leather-faced seats optional on Crossroad and standard on GT simply for how easy they are to clean up.

The 2018 Dodge Journey is simply not a good pick if safety is a priority.

If safety is a major factor when it comes to buying a new car, the 2018 Dodge Journey probably shouldn’t be on your list. Its low scores and limited safety features reveal its age; we’ve rated it a bottom-barrel 1 out of 10. 

Dodge doesn’t offer advanced features like adaptive cruise control or automatic emergency braking on the Journey and even relatively pedestrian features like blind-spot monitors aren’t available.

Heck, the Journey isn’t even available with a rearview camera unless you fork out the money for the optional Driver Confidence Group on Crossroad and GT trim levels.

In crash tests, the Journey hardly inspires confidence, either. The IIHS awarded it “Good” scores for all but the frontal offset test, where it scored a troubling “Poor.”

Federal testers give it four stars overall, albeit five stars for side impact.

Conversely, if you’re looking to get out of an older SUV or crossover, the Journey’s so-so scores against other 2018 model-year vehicles may be less of a factor.

The 2018 Dodge Journey is rather basic, as its price suggests.

The 2018 Dodge Journey is available in four value-oriented trim levels, but there’s more to this crossover than just its low base price.

We’ve rated the Journey lineup at a 3 out of 10, reflecting its low level of standard equipment and its limited upgrade opportunities. 

The 2018 Journey SE is decidedly basic, although power windows and locks, a USB input for its 4.3-inch touchscreen audio system, and a third row are all standard equipment. Rear-seat child boosters, a CD player, Bluetooth, and a package that includes black alloy wheels are all on the options list.

The Journey SXT comes with a few nice appearance upgrades and is available with more optional equipment like a power driver’s seat, satellite radio, and a chrome exterior appearance package.

Though it may look off-road ready, the Journey Crossroad is more about the look. It’s a bit more macho with its unpainted cladding and it’s also better-equipped. Standard leather and mesh upholstery, 19-inch alloy wheels, and an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system are joined by optional navigation, a rear-seat entertainment system, and rear park assist.

At the top of the heap, the Journey GT has a stiffer suspension and standard leather upholstery with heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. A trailer tow prep package is available only on the Journey GT.

The 8.4-inch infotainment system on Journey Crossroad and GT trim levels is a delight to use, but it’s worth noting that this system has parent company FCA’s older software that’s not compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Fuel Economy
Dated transmissions hold the 2018 Dodge Journey back when it comes to fuel economy.

The 2018 Dodge Journey delivers fuel economy that’s a step or two behind most rivals.

We’ve based our 6 out of 10 score on the V-6 model with all-wheel drive, but there’s hardly a major advantage to the base 2.4-liter engine. 

V-6 models come in at 17 mpg city, 25 highway, 19 combined with front-wheel drive and 16/24/19 mpg with all-wheel drive.

The front-wheel drive with a 2.4-liter inline-4 Journey rates 19/25/21 mpg on the EPA test.

Front-wheel drive Journeys can also run on E85, if you happen to live in the corn belt. Predictably, E85 consumption is much higher at 12/18/14 mpg.

What’s holding the Journey back? Its dated 4- and 6-speed automatic transmissions lack the gearing that makes competitors far thriftier.


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