For many years, Dodge has been well-known for making strong vehicles including the RAM, Durango, and Charger. The brand is synonymous with iconic, powerful, American-made cars and trucks. Well, no one’s perfect, right? Back in 2009, Dodge introduced the world to its first-ever crossover, the midsize Dodge Journey.
The Journey was touted as a stylish and spacious family-friendly SUV with seating for up to seven, but it never quite took off as a widely popular vehicle. According to GoodCarBadCar.net, in its first full year of sales, just 53,826 Dodge Journeys were sold. By comparison, even the 10th best-selling SUV that year, the Jeep Wrangler, sold 82,044 units.
When it was launched, the Dodge Journey had an attractive low starting MSRP . . . but that’s about it. Even in the decade-plus since 2009, the Journey has consistently received average-at-best ratings and largely been a forgettable vehicle. There are a couple of model years in particular, though, that consumers should be aware of.
The worst of the worst: 2009
When people started to buy the first Dodge Journey in 2009, the general consensus was that the SUV had decent fuel economy and a particularly spacious cabin. It was also one of the very few crossovers that offered an available third row of seating.
However, as people owned the Dodge Journey for extended periods of time, they began to notice some of the vehicle’s downfalls. As U.S. News explained, “Reviewers also wrote that the Journey’s interior felt cheap and low-quality when compared with most other 2009 compact SUVs.”
It also became well-known that while technically there is a third row available on higher SXT and R/T trims, the seats are so cramped and uncomfortable that they’re practically useless.
Both engine options – a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter V6 – are lackluster and the bigger one is a gas guzzler. In front-wheel-drive models with the V6, the Journey gets 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. All-wheel-drive V6 models get 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. Considering there are several used SUVs you can buy that get well over 20 mpg around town, those numbers are pretty dismal.
CarComplaints.com shows that the 2009 Dodge Journey is also by far the worst model year in terms of the number of complaints, “repair cost & average mileage when problems occur.” A substantial number of consumer complaints indicate that the brakes and rotors wear out prematurely around the 30,000-mile mark, and many other Journey owners report their engines simply wouldn’t start at about 60,000 miles.
The 2010 Dodge Journey
Not much was changed between the 2009 and 2010 model years, but for 2010, the Dodge Journey with the smaller engine and front-wheel drive did get improved fuel economy. It gets 23 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. However, Dodge made the larger V6 available only with all-wheel drive, so consumers considering a 2010 Journey have to choose between an underpowered engine or a rather thirsty one.
A Journey to the middle
Overall, the Dodge Journey does have a low starting price and the four-cylinder engine gets decent fuel economy. Having a third row of seats and all-wheel drive are also attractive features, but because those options are only available on higher trim levels or with the thirsty V6 engine, most shoppers are better off looking at other vehicles altogether.
If you can get by without a third row, excellent alternatives include the 2009 Mazda CX-7 and Ford Escape. For people who absolutely have to have that third row of seats, take a look at the 2011 Kia Sorento, which comes equipped with an impressive number of standard features and is fun to drive.