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Dodge Journey 2008 Road Test

Sun, 24 Aug 2008

If you think of the Qashqai +2 as a 7-seater Qashqai, then you’d be forgiven for looking at the Dodge Journey as a 7-seater Caliber.

But it’s a bit better than that.

Like the Caliber, it’s front-drive only, not the 4x4 it appears to be. So it’s easier on fuel, yet shrugs off kerbs and speed cushions as effectively as an SUV.

It has a lot of showroom appeal. The LED dash lights up like a small aircraft’s and is very clear in all lighting situations. (Our two-hour test drive contrived to give us every kind of climatic condition of a lousy English summer.) The ‘Tilt ‘N Slide’ centre seats fold up and slide cleverly forwards in one movement for access to the rearmost. Being sort-of American there are cupholders everywhere. All three centre-rear seats have ISOFIX tethers, so one kiddy can sit in the middle with a clear view forwards, though they won’t take three child seats across. The rear side doors open 90 degrees making installation of child seats less back-breaking than usual. Seats are progressively 40mm and 17mm higher helping rear passengers see forwards. There are bins under the floor with removable wet liners, like small washing up bowls, so they are easy to clean. The upper glovebox is air conditioned and contains removable rubber can holders, so Coca Cola won’t rattle in there.

There are separate roof mounted a/c controls for the rear seats. And on SXT and RT versions, the front passenger seat folds flat so long loads can be accommodated alongside the driver and four passengers sitting 1-2-1. Rearmost passengers get slots to push their toes under the seats in front and more room than in a Qashqai, Outlander, C Crosser or 4007. But don’t expect adults to thank you for a lift if they have to sit there.

There’s a choice of two engines: Chrysler’s 168bhp 2.4 litre petrol, or VW’s 138bhp Pumpe Duse diesel, with five or six manual gears respectively. Or, on the SXT, you can have a Getrag dual clutch auto, the same as in the Focus and small Volvos, rather than VAG’s DSG, giving an interesting new angle on powertrain sharing. CO2 is 209g/km for the petrol, 171g/km for the diesel and 186g/km for the diesel auto, none of which are bad for a 7 seater with the street presence of an SUV.

The diesel engine will move the car’s considerable 1,895kg bulk along, but weak low-down torque means a lot of gearchanges to keep it on the boil. It feels like a slightly less refined Mitsubishi Grandis with the same powertrain. It will go round corners without any drama up to a point. Though it’s best driven in the same manner as a pick-up or 4x4. Its seat height gives it a distinct advantage pulling out of side roads because you can see over the tops of parked cars.

There’s a point in the vehicle. It’s a relatively cheap 7 seater with some SUV attributes, a diesel auto option, and not too punishing CO2. A lot of families have taken to the Caliber and if more offspring are expected it’s a logical move up. While DIY dads will be very happy with the ability to carry timber, and flatpack wardrobes.

Perhaps even a surfboard if they don’t drive too far onto the beach.

For Prices, Specifications, Engines and Transmissions, Dimensions and Performance and Economy, click the tabs

More at www.Chrysler.co.uk

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