The 2010 Dodge Journey crossover SUV is effectively a replacement for Chrysler's now defunct short-wheelbase minivans -- a family-friendly vehicle that's a bit more maneuverable than the regular Grand Caravan. The Journey does indeed fill this void in functional terms, offering lots of room for larger families and a number of pleasant convenience and technology features. The question is whether buyers will find its interior quality and driving dynamics sufficient relative to the ever-improving competition. After all, a journey is hardly worth taking if you're not going to enjoy the trip.
The Journey's strength is clearly its cabin functionality, where the influence of Chrysler's minivans is unmistakable. Its optional third-row seat sets it apart from two-row crossover SUVs, providing enough room for kids. The Journey is also loaded with clever, well-conceived minivan-style conveniences, from the Flip 'n Stow storage compartment under the front passenger seat to the Chill Zone glovebox beverage cooler. Other neat options include MyGIG, Chrysler's hard-drive-based navigation and entertainment system, and a rear-seat entertainment system with a 9-inch screen. If what you're after is a versatile interior at a reasonable price, the Journey certainly delivers.
Speaking of pricing, that's another of the Journey's strengths, as the base SE model costs about the same as a bare-bones five-seat family sedan. How does Dodge do it? Simple: It skimps on interior quality and performance. The Journey's cabin materials are no nicer than those of the dismal Dodge Caliber economy car, on which the Journey is based. As for performance, the base four-cylinder engine is slow and noisy, and the V6-powered SXT and R/T models aren't particularly swift either. Moreover, all Journeys feature ponderous handling and steering that instills little confidence, even by the workaday standards of this segment.
Overall, the 2010 Dodge Journey has a split personality. On the one hand, it has interior versatility and technology to spare; on the other hand, it's built like a cheap runabout and performs like one, too. Among competing crossovers, Toyota's RAV4 offers a third-row seat along with better performance, and the surprisingly enjoyable Kia Rondo is another model to consider. The larger, three-row Ford Flex starts at about the same price as a loaded Journey, and is superior in every way. And if you don't need the Journey's optional third row, virtually any two-row crossover SUV on the market will be more pleasant to drive and own. Finally, our consumer reviews show a record of poor reliability in a number of areas. We do not recommend the Journey.