Sweating the details
Besides the Ford Escape, no other compact SUV or crossover moves off dealer lots more frequently in 2011 than the Dodge Journey. Since its early 2008 launch as a 2009 model, it has offered decent interior space, lots of features and a very low base price.
The same philosophy still applies to this year’s Journey, but a long list of changes and improvements were applied to render the crossover even more appealing. That first impression when the customer enters your showroom and sits down in your vehicle is a crucial moment, and the Chrysler group made sure those people stick around and ask for more information.
It starts with a refurbished interior, complete with a richer-looking dashboard and door panels. The large instrument pod, partially blocked by the steering wheel, is replaced by a more conventional setup with a trip computer screen on uplevel trims. The wheel itself is, like in all other 2011 Dodge vehicles, redesigned with the new brand logo.
The centre stack audio and climate controls couldn’t be simpler to use, with rotary dials and big, easy-to-pinpoint temperature adjustment buttons. Kudos to the 8.4-inch touch screen, standard in the R/T edition; while we’re not fans of such devices for controlling a vehicle cockpit’s basic functions, this one is extremely responsive to the slightest contact of your finger, and the buttons are big and easy to point at. It’s way better than Ford’s MyTouch interface.
The optional rearview camera also benefits from the large screen, offering a glorious view of what’s crossing your path as you back up.
Other tactile improvements include new seats with softer leather upholstery as well as cushioned armrests covered in simulated leather trim. In R/T trim at least, the cockpit feels as though it belongs in a more-expensive vehicle.
Based on the Avenger sedan’s platform, the Journey is one of the longest models in the compact SUV/crossover segment, but one of the narrowest. Interior space is pretty good nonetheless. Entering and exiting the Journey requires clearing the high and wide side sills, which can become irritating; chances are you’ll get your pant leg dirty while stepping out if you don’t pay attention to what you’re doing.
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