Jun 012016
 

Most recognized for its muscle cars like the Charger and Challenger, Dodge also includes more utilitarian models in its lineup. The Dart is one. The Dodge Journey is another. On a recent test drive of the 2016 Journey Crossroad Plus for Latino Traffic Report, I was pleasantly surprised by this Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV).

Appropriately named, the Journey can transport five to seven passengers depending on how it’s configured. Classified as a small SUV by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation, the Journey’s 50/50-split third-row, available on all trim levels, sets it apart from the competition.

Dodge has reduced the number of trim levels in 2016, from seven to five, but added the Crossroad Plus that sits near the top of the lineup. Standard features like leather seats, the 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system, sport mesh seat inserts, and creatively designed storage space elevate the SUV. My favorite was the Flip ‘n Stow in-seat storage under the passenger front seat cushion. It flips up easily and can fit a purse. That plus the fold-flat front passenger seat, second- and third-row seating, and second-row in-floor storage, give the Journey best-in-class storage.

On the outside, distinctive front and rear fascias with Platinum Chrome accents, Platinum Chrome side sills, Platinum Chrome roof rails and unique 19-inch Hyper Black aluminum wheels, further distinguish this trim level.

Powered by a choice of two engines, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder or a 3.6-liter V6, the test model came with the latter that produces 283 horsepower and 260 lb.–ft. of torque. Matched to a six-speed automatic transmission, it has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 17 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 25 mpg on the highway for the two-wheel-drive version. I averaged 28.9 mpg.

All Journeys include Keyless Enter ‘n Go with push-button start, dual-zone climate control, Uconnect 4.3 with a 4.3-inch touchscreen, an AM/FM radio, CD player, MP3/WMA audio jack input, remote USB port, and black side roof rails.

The Journey also offers surprising options for this segment, like a heated steering wheel, a fold-flat front seat, and all-wheel-drive (AWD), featuring an on-demand system that provides added traction when needed and enhanced fuel economy when not.

The Crossroad Plus includes a black leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, Liquid Graphite accents, a power driver’s seat, three-zone climate control and the afore mentioned front passenger fold-flat seat with storage.

Where the Journey falls short, however, is safety. While traditional features like anti-lock brakes and traction control are included, the rearview camera comes in a package reserved for the higher-end models, and a blind-spot warning system isn’t even offered.

Pricing for the Journey starts at $21,890, $2,600 less than the 2015 model. The test model included several packages like the Popular Equipment Group ($1250) that added the heated steering wheel, and the Navigation and Back-Up Camera Group ($1,195) bringing the as-tested price to $32,560.

Sí: Seating configurations and extra storage space give the Journey added versatility.

No: With all the extra packages on the test model, it still didn’t include critical safety features like blind spot monitor or collision avoidance, nor are they available.

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