2012 Dodge Journey R/T. Click image to enlarge
Manufacturer’s web site
Review and photos by Chris Chase
Introduced in early 2008 as a 2009 model, the Dodge Journey crossover quickly became one of Canada’s best-selling vehicles, for two reasons. One was its attractive starting price of $19,995, and the other was its role as the ostensibly replacement for the short-wheelbase Dodge Caravan, which disappeared when that minivan was redesigned in 2008.
To start, the Journey could be had with a choice of 2.4L four-cylinder (173 hp/166 lb-ft), or 3.5L V6 (235 hp/232 lb-ft) engines. The former came with a four-speed automatic, and the latter with a six-speed auto.
This was a well-equipped vehicle for the price, coming standard with air conditioning, power windows, heated outside mirrors, variable intermittent wipers, rear wiper/washer, power locks, chillable beverage holder (in the glove box), tilt and telescopic steering, and a six-CD stereo. Standard functional and safety features included four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, front-seat side and front and rear head curtain airbags, and traction/stability control.
2009 Dodge Journey SE Plus. Click image to enlarge
Trim levels were SE, SXT and R/T; all SE models were four-cylinder and front-wheel drive, and SXT and R/T got the V6 and could be optioned with all-wheel drive.
Dodge juggled options for 2010, so the SXT was front-drive only, and the R/T was AWD-only. A popular Canada Value Package added keyless illuminated entry, stain-resistant seat fabric a softer centre console armrest and a fuel saver indicator. SXT and R/T models got a few new standard features, too.
For 2011, the Journey got a styling update, a new Crew trim designation (slotting in between SXT and R/T), and the 3.5L V6 was dropped in favour of the Chrysler’s then-new 283-hp 3.6L Pentastar V6.
Dodge sweetened the Canada Value Package pot with the addition of cruise, dual-zone automatic climate control and a driver’s knee airbag, making this entry-level trim (at the time, priced at $21,000) a real bargain. Other trims received less-notable additions to their lists of standard kit, and 2012 models got similarly minor revisions in trim.
Natural Resources Canada fuel consumption estimates for the 2009 Journey were 11.0/7.9 L/100 km for four-cylinder models, 13.5/8.6 L/100 km for V6/FWD versions and 14.2/8.9 with the V6 and AWD. 2010 six-cylinder models got slightly better ratings, and 2011’s Pentastar V6 brought another nominal reduction in fuel consumption. Meanwhile, the four-cylinder’s ratings improved to 10.8/7.5 L/100 km for 2011 and 2012.
2009 Dodge Journey SE Plus (top) and 2012 Dodge Journey R/T AWD. Click image to enlarge
Through its first four years on the market, the Journey’s major components (engines and transmissions) seem to be holding up reasonably well, in spite of a “much worse than average” used vehicle rating from Consumer Reports (CR). That poor outlook is tied to a healthy list of less serious, but still frustrating, problems.
One of the Journey’s most common trouble spots, according to both CR and TrueDelta.com, is quick-wearing brake components. Pads wear out prematurely, brake rotors warp and calipers stick, causing brake to overheat.
Neither CR nor TrueDelta.com show much evidence of serious mechanical flaws, but this AutoWeek.com article suggests a number of early Pentastar-powered Journeys might be subject to a cylinder head problem.
This thread at DodgeJourneyForum.com discusses leaking “power transfer units, (or PTU),” otherwise known as the set of gears that routes power to the rear wheels.A simple Internet search also brings up a number of discussions about leaking rear differentials, too.
2012 Dodge Journey R/T AWD. Click image to enlarge
The Journey seems to be infamous for weird electric glitches. Here’s an interesting discussion about a software problem that causes the stereo volume to increase suddenly after the car is started. Another seemingly common electrical glitch is one that causes the gauges to fall to zero, illuminates every warning light and turns the wipers on.
Have a look at this section at DodgeJourneyForum.com to see what else Dodge Journey owners are talking about.
By this point, it might be clear how Dodge is able to attach such an attractive pricetag to the Journey. It often is true that you get what you pay for, but there’s no denying it can be hard to resist a capable vehicle with a low price. I’d suggest you won’t find a cheaper way than this to get into a used late model crossover. I wouldn’t call any Journey a poster child for long-term durability, but a front-wheel drive model would be the best bet for avoiding big, nasty repair bills once the warranty has expired. And, as always, look for a used car that comes with detailed service records, and have any vehicle checked by a trusted mechanic before buying.