2012 Dodge Journey R/T AWD
2012 Dodge Journey R/T AWD. Click image to enlarge

DBDR: 2012 Dodge Journey R/T AWD
Test Drive: 2012 Dodge Journey R/T

Manufacturer’s web site
Dodge Canada

Review and photos by Chris Chase

Photo Gallery:
2012 Dodge Journey

Last year, Dodge sold 29,021 Journeys in Canada, making it the best-selling compact seven-seat crossover in the country, and second-best in the class, behind the extremely popular Ford Escape. That was a 22 percent increase over its 2010 sales, probably owing to some pretty significant improvements Dodge made to its smallest crossover model for the 2011 model year.

There was the addition of the brand’s 3.6L “Pentastar” V6 engine (replacing an ancient 3.5L motor), refreshed exterior styling and, maybe most significantly, an all-new interior to replace one that looked like a leftover from parent company Chrysler’s K-Car days.

There’s little new to talk about for 2012, except for the main reason the Journey will probably remain popular: its price. Take the R/T AWD seven-seat tester you see here, with its $29,095 MSRP (at the time this was written).

2012 Dodge Journey R/T AWD
2012 Dodge Journey R/T AWD. Click image to enlarge

A 283-hp Pentastar V6 makes the Journey the most powerful compact crossover you can get. More than just looking good on paper, this is a very good engine, moving the Journey with enthusiasm when asked to, and making a decent soundtrack in the process.

The R/T’s “performance” suspension isn’t unbearable, but it does take away from the smooth ride the Journey is otherwise known for.

Most of the six-speed automatic’s gear changes come with noticeable shift-shock, and the its eagerness to get into a high gear as soon as possible in normal acceleration causes the engine to “lug” and transmit an unrefined shudder to the steering wheel rim. My tester also showed a reluctance to downshift until I was far enough into the throttle to call up a two-gear jump, and way more acceleration than I wanted.

Natural Resources Canada’s fuel consumption estimages for a Journey with the V6 and all-wheel drive are 13.0/8.4 L/100 km (city/highway). My tester averaged 14.5 L/100 km in mixed driving. A Hemi V8-powered Durango I drove the week before averaged 15.7 L/100 km in similar conditions; if fuel economy (relative to power) was my only consideration, I’d sooner choose the stronger, more comfortable Durango.

2012 Dodge Journey R/T AWD
2012 Dodge Journey R/T AWD
2012 Dodge Journey R/T AWD
2012 Dodge Journey R/T AWD. Click image to enlarge

Not that the Journey isn’t comfortable. The front seats certainly are, and spacious too. The second-row seats are hard and the bottom cushions too short, and head- and legroom aren’t as generous as they could (should?) be in a vehicle of this size. The tight third row is more what you’d expect, with kid-sized legroom at best. Getting back there is easy enough: my tester’s optional flexible seating package included second-row tilt-and-slide seats, and the rear doors open nearly 90 degrees. My tester also had Dodge’s family-friendly integral second-row booster seats.

Rear visibility is iffy at best; the R/T includes proximity sensors in the back bumper that warned when the car got close to an obstacle.

Cargo space works out to 303L behind the third row (that’s less than most compact car trunks are good for), 1,047L behind the second row (five-passenger models boast 1,121L) and 1,914L with second and third row seats stowed. My most common cargo – two or three guitars and an amp – were no challenge here.

A storage compartment under the front passenger seat cushion is a nice touch in a family vehicle; small item storage in general is pretty good in this interior.

The redesigned dash is a huge improvement over the original, but calls to mind something Hyundai would have done five or ten years ago. It’s mostly nicely laid out and easy to use, but a few controls, notably those for the heated seats, are only accessible through the cheap-looking, low-resolution touch screen.

To the R/T’s $29,095 MSRP, my tester added $1,475 for the Flexible Seating Group and $200 for the booster seats. With Bluetooth ($600) and chrome wheels ($600), the as-tested price wound up at $31,875.

The Journey does most things right – or, at least, well enough for the price Dodge asks for it – but its thirsty fuel consumption is an unfortunate thing from an engine that is otherwise quite good. Parent company Chrysler has made tangible improvements to its vehicles, including this one, in the last couple of years. Having one of the best-selling vehicles in a lucrative segment is good; achieving that for reasons other than having the lowest price would be better.

Pricing: 2012 Dodge Journey R/T AWD
  • Base price: $29,095
  • Options: $2,875 (Flexible seating group, $1,475; integrated booster seats, $200; Bluetooth, $600; chrome wheels, $600)
  • A/C tax: $100
  • Freight: $1,400
  • Price as tested: $33,470

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    Crash test results
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
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