Mostly unchanged for a decade. Other than an interior refresher in 2013, the Dodge Journey has remained mostly unchanged since 2009. While some buyers may find this rolling relic of a simpler era a refreshing change of pace in today’s ever-complicated world of high-tech vehicles, many crossover shoppers will find it too dated.
Stepping into the 2019 Dodge Journey will take you back to the days before smartphones were permanent fixtures in our palms, grained plastics were an upgrade, and automatic braking was still just a glimmer in engineers’ eyes.
Roomy cabin with time capsule feel. If there's one thing the Journey does well, it’s hauling people and stuff. It's a crossover, so that should surprise no one, but it stands out with a sliding second row that lets you choose between leg and cargo room. With 54.4 inches of second-row hip room, three adults can sit in the rear seats with little fuss compared to the Mitsubishi Outlander and Nissan Rogue, which offer 51.7 and 52.1 inches of rear hip room, respectively.
While the roominess is great, the Journey’s cabin is like a time capsule unearthed after a decade underground. Its assortment of hard plastics and sea-of-black look are quick indicators of just how old it is inside. Further proof of its status as a senior citizen is its lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – even as options.
An old-school platform has benefits. The Dodge Journey's looks aren’t all that’s old-school; it also rides on old-school underpinnings with equally old running gear. While buyers will have to make some compromises here, the Journey’s small wheels with large-sidewall tires and older suspension setup deliver a comfortable ride in most conditions.
With a traditional hydraulic power steering system that delivers ample feedback, and you feel more in control behind the wheel than in its competitors with electric power steering and various nannies forcing the safety issue.
The other side of that coin is the Journey’s ancient powertrain that includes a standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 173 horsepower paired to a fossilized four-speed automatic transmission. The optional 283-hp 3.6-liter V6 engine delivers better on-road power, but it's a thirsty beast at an EPA-estimated 19 miles per gallon combined, and its six-speed automatic transmission is no modern marvel.
Safety schmaftey. Most of today’s crossovers at least have optional advanced safety equipment like automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assist, but the Journey is an outlier here. The closest it comes to advanced safety is the federally mandated standard rearview camera. It even lacks available automatic emergency braking.
Making matters worse are its crash-test scores. According to the IIHS, the vehicle has a "Poor" rating in the small-overlap test. On top of that, its headlights are also inadequate and received “Poor” ratings. With three IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus models and five Top Safety Pick models in the mid-size SUV class, there's no reason to settle for these iffy ratings.
Final thoughts. With a $25,140 starting price, the 2019 Dodge Journey is among the cheapest three-row crossovers on the market. While cheap is fine for some buyers, there are serious compromises you must make when buying the Journey, including its iffy safety ratings and time-capsule feel.
If you’re looking for more features for your dollar, the Kia Sorento is a great buy at $27,335. If you prefer to keep costs even lower without sacrificing safety, the Mitsubishi Outlander starts from $25,790 and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick. If you’re looking for a more advanced powertrain with a little oomph behind it, the 260-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the Subaru Ascent may be perfect for you.