Review: 2013 Dodge Journey American Value Package
How would Dodge’s crossover offering hold up under the scrutiny of a two week family road trip? Would all the luggage fit? Was there enough leg room to store a cooler? We found out!
Under the Hood:
Driving the Journey feels more like piloting a craft than driving a vehicle. We weren’t expecting the wheel sensitivity or controllability of a Porsche Carrera or Fiat 500 and we didn’t get it. However, piloting the Journey is an easy and pleasant experience.
The 2.4-Liter I4 DOHC 16-Valve Dual VVT Engine mated to the 4-speed AutoStick® Automatic Transmission provided more than enough get up and go to power through busy roads, zip up highways and weave through the mountains. Despite climbing the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia on cruise control, the engine never sounded strained and approached the sometimes steep downhills with ease.
Our average gas mileage for the trip was a little below manufacturer estimates but we attribute that to some hill climbing we did as part of our trip. Though slightly below sticker information, the manufacturer estimates still fall within the average range for a vehicle in the crossover family with a 20 mpg combined rating- less than the Honda Crosstour’s 23 mpg and above the BMW X5’s 19 mpg in similar model styles.
The 20.5 gallon gas tank in the Journey is much larger than the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe’s 17.4 gallon, 2013 Honda CRV’s 15.3 gallon and 2013 Ford Escape’s 15.1 gallon tanks. This gives the Journey a 430 mile range meaning fewer fill-ups for families.
We were especially impressed with the 38.5’ curb to curb turning diameter of the Journey. True to its advertisement, the Journey “corners like a car” making u-turns, backing out of a parking spaces and navigating the gas pumps a breeze.
The Journey isn’t one of those vehicles that is going to make you bite your lip. It’s not going to make you scoff either. Instead, it creates nostalgia for the mid-90s body style of the Caravan. Whether that’s a positive or a negative is up to you. We were rather indifferent about it.
One thing we loved about the Journey is the bump out trunk space. Dodge advertises it as “a little extra space for that odd shaped cargo,” and on this long trip, we were surprised at exactly how handy that space was during that dreaded moment when Dad goes to shut the hatch and we all cross our fingers hoping it fits.
The placement of every button, dial and gauge in the Journey seemed to make sense except in one major aspect, cup holders. Situated directly in front of the automatic gear shifter, moving the Journey into drive, park or reverse almost always resulted in touching your drink. While this may not seem like a big deal on the surface, the sweaty can of Coke leaving a wet streak on your fingers isn’t pleasant and almost scalding your fingers on your morning coffee isn’t the best way to start your drive. Don’t even get us started on what happens when you add straws into the equation.
We hate being distracted by any infotainment screen while driving and Dodge’s decision to house the Journey’s screen further down the center console eases much of that annoyance while still being fully visible to the driver and passengers.
What a center armrest! It’s one of those features that brings to mind, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” and the Journey does not skimp on the elbow’s favorite in-vehicle resting place. Listed as the “premium armrest” on the Dodge spec guide, we have to agree that it’s pretty spectacular.
The big cup/pocket/cubby at the bottom font of the center console is a great space. Ford Focus designers, take note. Not only is the space big enough that a driver and passenger cell phones, parking receipts, charging cords, and an iPad mini can all fit together, it also includes a power outlet, perfectly placed so there are no cords stretching across the console from an outlet to a “good” resting spot for your electronics. However, when the cup holders are full, it is nearly impossible to comfortably reach in and out of the space.
The front and back seats of the Journey are comfortable for short and long trips. There’s plenty of legroom for sitters of all ages. What helps keep that legroom manageable for the back seaters during a road trip? The brilliantly designed under-carpet floor cubbies that can store extra snacks, toys and games.
The 54.4” hip-to-hip second row seating in the Journey feels small tight when adults sit in the back seat. Though there was no complaining with two children in the seats, three adults could not comfortably fit.
While the Journey offers a third row seating option, we chose not to use it, instead making 10.73 feet of storage space into 39.63 feet which worked out perfectly. We were able to pack enough suitcases, toys, games, snacks and work baggage comfortably into the Journey while still being able to see out the back window.
The air conditioning cooled the Journey rapidly even in 90+ degree temperatures. The three-zone system controlling airflow was adequate throughout the entire vehicle, not leaving any missed seating areas.
Dodge has positioned the Journey to be the “most versatile and affordable crossover” and the economy class description is accurate. For all its convenience, the Dodge Journey still felt like a lower-end vehicle. The plastic interior didn’t have the finishes we’ve come to expect out of other vehicles in the same category.
Important Numbers for Families:
- 7- The number of passengers the Dodge Journey holds- if they’re kids. Given our testing, we’d bank on 6 adults fitting in the vehicle comfortably.
- 39.2- How many inches of legroom the second row passengers have in the Journey- only 1.6” less than the front driver and passenger.
- 67.6- Cubic feet of storage space in each and every trim level of the Dodge Journey.
- $18995- The MSRP of the Dodge Journey American Value Package. That’s $11000 less than the MSRP on the 2013 Dodge Durango. In fact, that’s $400 less than the MSRP on the 2013 Dodge Avenger.
Family 5 Test:
- Car Seats- Two car seats fit comfortably in the back of the Journey without having to worry about foot or knee space for the kids. The seats easily fit in and out of the crossover. The 68-degree passenger door extension is limiting when removing or inserting a car seat, however, it does not impede on the experience.
- Coffee Cups- Each of the cup holders are the same size and hold your morning coffee comfortably. You already read what we thought about their console placement.
- Golf Clubs- A set of clubs easily fits in the back of the Journey without the third row seating. In fact, you could put down the back seat and carry four sets of clubs in the back while driving your foursome to the course in the front and middle seats.
- Luggage- The Dodge Journey couldn’t fit our entire family’s luggage for this road trip without putting down the third row seating, but with them down there was abundant space. Two large suitcases, two carry-ons, a book bag, two messenger bags and a laundry basket full of games all fit in the trunk area with enough room for acquired souvenirs to fill in the remaining spaces.
- Groceries- Those second-row floor cubbies we told you about earlier were extremely handy during grocery runs. They turned out to be the perfect place to store milk and juice so it wouldn’t tip over as well as eggs and bread so they wouldn’t get crushed. As you would expect from a crossover, there was plenty of room for other groceries.
The Bottom Line:
It wasn’t that we especially liked anything with the Dodge Journey (okay, besides the rear floor cubbies and armrest) and it wasn’t that we particularly disliked anything either. The Journey is just that- not something to get worked up about. It’s vanilla.
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Special thanks to Ken Melton at Palmer Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram in Roswell, Georgia for all his help with this post. If you’d like to learn more about the Dodge Journey AVP or to schedule a test drive, you can reach Ken at (770) 410-1111.