A modern relic. Crossovers may be all the rage these days, but you wouldn’t know it from the 2020 Dodge Journey. Dodge’s midsize crossover SUV hasn’t changed in more than a decade. As other automakers introduce new crossovers to meet demand and fill niches, Dodge seems stuck in 2009.
The Journey has received a few updates to keep up with modern times. Rear parking sensors are now standard. A rearview camera was recently added, but only once it was federally mandated. Infotainment runs through a touchscreen, but the base trim uses a tiny 4.3-inch screen and no trim gets smartphone compatibility.
The exterior design hasn’t had a refresh since 2013, and it shows. The boxy lines and protruding wheel wells may once have been rugged, but they look dated against sharper competition.
One good thing remains from the past: the price. The Journey starts under $25,000, which is lower than most vehicles of similar size. We’re still not convinced that it’s a good value.
Few options made fewer. For 2020, the Journey loses more than it gains. Dodge has cut the model range in half, leaving just two trims. Both are relatively affordable, but neither is particularly luxurious.
The bigger loss may be underneath the hood, where the option of a V6 is eliminated. That leaves only a 173-horsepower four-cylinder engine, which is overburdened trying to lug around the Journey’s bulk. The V6 was the more popular engine among consumers, and we can’t figure out why it was phased out.
The remaining engine isn’t helped by the rest of the drivetrain. The only transmission is an ancient four-speed automatic, which struggles to find the correct cog even when there are only four to choose from. Even basic economy cars come with five-speed automatics these days.
All-wheel drive is off the table too, which means snow-state buyers will have to look elsewhere. The four-cylinder engine isn’t even an efficient one, maxing out at 21 miles per gallon combined, according to the EPA.
If there’s one thing we can praise about the Journey’s hardware, it’s a comfortable ride. It comes at the cost of heavy body roll and numb steering, however, so we won’t be lavish.
At least it's roomy. The Journey’s biggest virtue is its spacious interior. The crossover may be on the small side of midsize, but it allocates space well. Not many crossovers this size manage to fit in a third row. The Journey’s is best for children, but it manages 10.7 cubic feet of cargo space even with all three rows in place. Without the third, a capacity of 37 cubic feet is about average for the size.
The second row slides back and forth to maximize utility, and it’s comfortable for adults. The front row is roomy as well, although we wish the front seats had height adjustment.
Item storage is decent, and a touchscreen infotainment system keeps the interior from looking as aged as the exterior. Hard plastics are common, however, and so much dark trim makes things feel dreary.
Life on the edge. The Journey’s combination of price and utility almost make it a reasonable pick for a budget family vehicle. Almost – because the Journey ruins the idea with its safety record.
The NHTSA gave the Journey four stars overall, which sounds decent but falls short of nearly every competitor. Multiple “Poor” ratings from the IIHS are even less reassuring.
As the rest of the industry moves toward standard active safety tech, the Journey stays stuck in the past. Dodge has never fitted the vehicle with automatic emergency braking or any other advanced tech, and they aren’t starting now.
The most we can say for the Journey is that outward visibility is good. Otherwise, this is one of the riskier new cars on the market.
Final thoughts. The 2020 Dodge Journey’s low starting price may sound appealing, but it’s less attractive up close. Aside from a relatively spacious interior, the Journey trails competitors in nearly every way. Safety tech is absent, style is uninspired inside and out, and the powertrain is weak in every way. We recommend looking elsewhere.
Check prices for the 2020 Dodge Journey »