Tuesday, 4 August 2009


This is a Dodge for the whole family isn’t it?

That it is. We tested the fully-functional 7-seater model with a third row of seats right at the back. Placing full grown adults in those seats did not yield any complaints of discomfort whatsoever even though one of these adults is 6ft tall. Anything taller though would result in future knee problems. At 4.888m in length there would not be space problems at all. Hard to park inside a typical old garbage-packed garage though.

Plus it’s loaded with cool stuff.

One of the best reasons in the world to buy a Journey or any other Dodge or Chrysler vehicle is that they come highly specced. Options are very minimal; only three with this car and all three were fitted. As a family travel car the Journey did well with its MyGIG sound system which can load hundreds of music files for continuous play. It can also allow passengers to view pictures and videos on the screen, provided the car is not in motion. A very useful feature for anyone who’s had to entertain children over long distances.

The engine seems to be willing and able.

Truth be told this is no Dodge Viper by any stretch of the proverbial imagination. That said the Journey never wanted to be its big brother anyway. The turbo diesel fitted is ample for the job at hand. It accelerates gradually so as not to alarm the passengers or spill their drinks and can go up a hill progressively without causing traffic behind it. In fact once it gets going it can be hard to tail. Dodge installed the new 6-speed double clutch automatic which is smooth enough but sometimes chooses the wrong gear for the situation. In traffic it works fine though.

I’m more interested in this; what other technologies are inside?

Besides the MyGIG system with its 8-inch touch-screen technology, our unit was fitted with a rear view camera, one of the clearest in the market. Even in the dark it would illuminate the rear area with clarity and good visibility. Then there’s the fully-adjustable electric front seats to match the electric windows and optional electric sunroof. The Uconnect Bluetooth connectivity is easy with MyGIG; just pair up a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone and all your conversations can be had with both hands on the steering wheel. For those long drives the cubby hole comes with a cooling function so drinks can be stored in there and retrieved in the same temperature as they were brought in. Another example of the car’s practicality are the in-floor storage bins found under the carpet to keep things away from prying eyes and the several large cup holders.

The rear seats can be folded flat as well in order to load longer objects like a small ladder or a mountain bike, the latter incidentally was the one we were able to stuff in there with no qualms from the vehicle.

How safe is the Journey?

Safe as houses they say. It has ESP, ABS brakes, Traction Control, Trailer Sway Control to help stabilise a trailer if one is being pulled and airbags (including side curtain types).

Would you permanently park one at home?

I still don’t like the materials used for the dashboard and door interior plastics. They feel somewhat cheap. But if I was a family person in need of a reasonably-priced extra-spacious car with great fuel economy, cruising power and forward-thinking in-car entertainment? Without a doubt.



ENGINE: 2.0-litre straight four, turbo diesel

POWER: 103kW / 140hp at 4000rpm; 310Nm between 1750rpm and 2500rpm

0 – 100KM/H: 13.3 seconds

GEARBOX: 6-speed double clutch automatic

TOP SPEED: 180km/h

FUEL AVERAGE: 8.2 l/100km

CO2 e: 186 g/km

WHEELS AND TYRES: 19x6.5, 225/55R 19

PRICE: R387 900

NATURAL RIVALS: Renault Grand Scénic, Toyota Verso, Chrysler Grand Voyager, Peugeot 308 SW, Volkswagen Caddy Maxi

*PRICE RIVALS: Mercedes-Benz CLC 200k, BMW 130i, Audi A3 2.0T Cabriolet, Chrysler Grand Voyager 2.8 CRD, BMW 320D auto, Honda Accord Tourer, Toyota Fortuner 4.0 auto, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Renault Koleos 2.0 dCi, Mitsubishi Triton 3.2 Di-D, Land Rover Freelander 3.2i

OPTIONS ADDED: MyGIG satellite navigation with Parkview assistance and Infinity sound (17 900) Power sunroof (R11 00)


*A price rival falls within R20 000 or so of the subject’s price on either side of its price spectrum for cars over R350 000, R10 000 for cars of between R250 000 and R350 000 and R5 000 for cars below R250 000.

*Exterior pictures taken using NOKIA 6210 Navigator