Though not an obvious choice, the 2013 Dodge Journey has many positive attributes to make it worthy of consideration.
For 2013, the Dodge Journey Crew trim boasts a stronger value proposition, as Dodge has added a few more standard features (such as leather upholstery and heated front seats) and reduced its price.Read more
Sophisticated interior; family-friendly size; available built-in booster seats; strong V6; smart touchscreen interface.
When it debuted four years ago, the Dodge Journey crossover didn't have much in its favor. We used the comment "Needs Improvement" so frequently on its report card that we were certain its fate as a back-of-the-class entry was sealed. Yet two years later it was more like "Most Improved" as the Journey underwent a complete under-the-skin makeover that put it on the honor roll. Yes, the 2013 Dodge Journey may look the same as that original '09, but they're as different as a scholar-athlete is from the class clown.
Always in its favor has been the Journey's interior versatility. Roomier than your typical compact crossover SUV, the more wagon-like Journey offers a small third-row seat that can accommodate a couple of small kids. That added flexibility, along with its reasonable dimensions, makes the Journey the just-right choice for an ideal family vehicle without the added cost, fuel appetite and parking hassles of the larger three-row crossovers.
Under the hood, it's a tale of two engines -- one desirable and one not. The base four-cylinder is underpowered and its fuel economy isn't that great. The 3.6-liter V6, on the other hand, is one of the most potent engines in this segment, yet it still provides decent fuel economy. Underway, the Journey boasts composed handling and a supple ride, while inside is a stylish cabin fitted with high-quality materials and stocked with user-friendly high-tech features. Other attributes include hidden storage compartments and optional integrated child seats.
Thanks to its well-rounded nature, the 2013 Dodge Journey earns our approval. Of course, there are other impressive choices available as well. We also like the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento; both boast a small but usable third-row seat, better four-cylinder performance and available V6 engines. If a third row isn't a priority, models like the Ford Escape or Honda CR-V are also excellent. But overall the Journey is a respectable pick for a small crossover, particularly with the optional V6.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Dodge Journey is available in five- and seven-passenger configurations. It is available in American Value Package (AVP), SE, SXT, R/T and Crew trim levels.
The American Value Package comes standard with 17-inch steel wheels, heated mirrors, keyless ignition/entry, cruise control, dual-zone manual climate control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a sliding and reclining second-row seat and a six-speaker sound system with a compact touchscreen interface, a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The SE adds privacy tinted glass, side roof rails and LED taillights.
Moving up to the SXT adds 17-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, unique front/rear fascias, a cargo cover/net and satellite radio. A premium sound system, sunroof and 19-inch wheels are optional.
The Crew adds a V6 engine, remote start, 19-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlamps, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a six-way power driver seat (with four-way lumbar adjustment), dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 115-volt power outlet, a premium audio system, Bluetooth and a fold-flat front passenger seat (with hidden storage bin).
The R/T includes all the Crew features (minus the roof rails) and adds a monochrome exterior treatment, special 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and black perforated-leather upholstery with red stitching.
Some of the higher trim's features are available on the lower trims via option packages, while other available features (depending on trim) include rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a folding/reclining third-row seat, three-zone automatic climate control (with rear air-conditioning), integrated second-row child booster seats, a rear seat entertainment system and a navigation system with an 8.4-inch display.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Dodge Journey AVP, SE and SXT are powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard. Its EPA-estimated fuel economy is 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined – not great given its anemic acceleration and thriftier competitors.
Optional on the SXT and standard on the Crew and R/T is a 3.6-liter V6. It's good for 283 hp and 260 lb-ft and is matched to a six-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional. At the track we recorded a 7.5-second 0-60-mph time for a Journey V6 FWD, an average time for the class. Fuel economy stands at 17/25/20 with front-wheel drive and 16/24/19 with all-wheel drive; both are a little below average for V6-powered small crossovers.
Every 2013 Dodge Journey comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, active front head restraints, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. Integrated second-row child booster seats are optional on every Journey. In Edmunds brake testing, a Journey V6 FWD came to a stop from 60 mph in 121 feet, an average performance for its segment.
In government crash tests, the Journey received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars awarded for frontal-impact protection and five stars for side-impact protection. In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Journey received the top score of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
From both design and execution standpoints, the Journey's interior rates as one of the best in the segment. The materials are high in quality, the design is clean and modern and the up-to-the-minute technology is pretty easy to use. We especially like the extra-large touchscreen interface available on most models.
Other strengths for the Journey include its clever storage bins and available integrated child seats that make it decidedly family-friendly. Also helping that cause is a versatile seating arrangement. While the Dodge's sliding and reclining second-row seat is now the norm for this class, its optional third-row seat is not. Like the one in the Toyota RAV4, this seat is far from adult-friendly, but if you need to take a couple extra kids to a T-ball game, it should come in handy.
In terms of hauling cargo, the Journey offers a total capacity of 68 cubic feet with all rear seats folded. That's a few cubes smaller than the RAV4 and CR-V, but bigger than the Chevy Equinox. For smaller items, the Journey provides storage bins hidden under the second-row floor as well as under the passenger seat.
The 2013 Dodge Journey's four-cylinder engine just doesn't have enough power to get this heavy crossover moving. It also doesn't provide enough fuel economy to justify its lackluster performance. As such, we'd avoid it and step up to the 3.6-liter V6. This engine is used throughout the Chrysler/Dodge lineups, and for good reason: It offers smooth, robust power and decent fuel economy. Unfortunately, its six-speed automatic transmission can be slow to respond when a downshift (or two) is needed.
On the move, the Journey is competent for the class, with a smooth ride and secure handling. The latter feels especially confident, boasting precise steering with a light yet still nicely weighted feel to it. That said, a Ford Escape or Honda CR-V likely will feel more agile around town, while the Chevy Equinox provides an even more comfortable and quiet ride on the freeway.