Up: Inexpensive, tons of space and storage
Down: So, so bland
Neutral: The Journey checks all boxes except “exciting”.
My buddy, Pete, sent me a text message before last winter saying his car was in the shop and he had a loaner that I could do a review on. The message was accompanied by a picture of a Dodge something. It was white, had four doors, wasn’t quite a car, wasn’t quite a minivan, and wasn’t quite an SUV. “What the hell is it?” I texted back, and Pete responded with, “a 2017 Dodge Journey SXT.” Or, as he likes to call it, an “Identity Crisis.”
And an Identity Crisis is not the far from the truth. At first glance, I thought it was a minivan. But then I sort of thought it was reminiscent of the Caliber, but bigger. If you visit the Journey’s page on Dodge’s website, you’ll see keywords such as “designed with adventure in mind”, “excitement for miles”, and, my personal favorite, “high-tech is putting it mildly”. So maybe the Dodge Journey is something more than just another vehicle in a lineup. But one thing was for certain, I had never heard of it.
First thing’s first; what is the 2017 Dodge Journey SXT? The Journey is Dodge’s current Crossover model. To me, a Crossover is a hatchback sedan lifted a few inches, but I’m not here to criticize the market. The Journey starts at $22,495 and comes in for trim packages: SE, SXT, Crossroad, and GT. You can get each version in front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive and moving up the line gets you surprisingly few features; the only significant things being added are leather seats, bigger wheels, and an 8.4 inch touchscreen. You can also choose between a 2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine or a 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 engine (the same two engines offered in the Chrysler 200 S we reviewed)
This particular model was equipped with the Pentastar V6 and FWD. And, for all intensive purposes, the SXT seems to be the most bang for the buck from the lineup. Unless you gotta have leather and black wheels, there is no reason to step up to the Crossroad or GT.
So, how does it drive? About like you’d expect. As an auto reviewer it’s hard to describe exactly how every vehicle drives and handles. The best I can come up with for the 2017 Dodge Journey SXT is that it’s pleasantly average. There’s enough power to haul seven people and their luggage, and there’s also enough power to squeak the tires when it’s just you. The Journey won’t break the laws of physics while cornering, but you’ll never not feel safe on a curvy road. It meets all of the standards I would hold of a Crossover in the 2010s.
The interior is fine as well. I found the seats to be very comfortable and I’d be willing to bet $20 that the cloth seats are more comfy than the leather ones. As far as infotainment, well, the Journey SXT is lacking in wow-factor. The tiny screen between the speedometer and tachometer displays minimal information and constantly asks if you’d like to switch to kilometers per hour. No, I would not!
And then there’s the disgrace of an infotainment center. If you don’t option for the 8.4″ touchscreen, Dodge will still happily give you a smaller screen. How small? Smaller than an average smart phone. And it’s not even touch screen. Instead, Dodge has placed physical buttons along the left and right of the screen which, in my opinion, make it look even smaller. The whole unit just looks out of place, especially in a vehicle this large.
So where does the 2017 Dodge Journey SXT succeed? Storage and seating, baby, storage and seating. The trunk is huge. You can fold down the third row and even the second row to maximize room. And that’s not all, there is also in-floor storage compartments in the trunk and in the second row of seating. Pro tip: the second row storage area doubles as a cooler so all soccer moms (and dads) need to do is throw some ice in it.
On top of shoving everything you own into the Journey, you can cart around seven people including yourself and that’s standard! Oh, and the third row is accessible by both sides so no worrying about children jumping into traffic.
With the identity crisis topic on my mind, I’ll try to pinpoint exactly who this vehicle is for. At right around $25,000 with a couple features, the 2017 Dodge Journey SXT is perfect for a young family with two or more kids that do not care about cars whatsoever. This car is meant to be used and abused without a second thought. If I were buying one, and trust me, I never would, I would opt for the AWD and the 4-Cylinder engine for optimum gas mileage and optimum traction during South Dakota winters. Best of both worlds.