The Americans have failed to produce many vehicles which have impressed me. Or none that I’ve driven anyway. SUV’s in general fail to impress me due to their inability to perform offroad. The Dodge Journey, being a combination of the two, really doesn’t get off on the right foot.
However my first impression could not have been more wrong. Not because finally the Americans have produced a quality product. Nor because the Journey is an SUV that performs offroad. So what is it that grabbed my attention?
Firstly, just look at it…it’s typically American. Big, brash and vulgar. There’s fake chrome stuck to every panel, the wheels are some attempt at chrome and the body is made entirely from those plastic yoghurt tubs; yet somehow it comes together with all the harmony of the Drakensburg Boys Choir.
The interior is much of the same. There’s “leather” everywhere, the centre consol is all chrome, nothing feels particularly well made and as usual with Chrysler products all the kit is exactly the same as any other vehicle in their range. Yet despite all this I really looked forward to going for a drive – especially at night when the interior glows in a soft xenon-blue ambience and the centre consol reflects in a tinsel town kind of way.
The seating arrangement was also really impressive and probably more user friendly than most seven-seaters. The middle row of seats fold and slide forward for easy access to the back two seats, which fold neatly into the floor and are designed to hold the average burger-eating-American-kid. There’s plenty of room too; when the seats are folded away there’s space in the back for at least two-and-a-half Great Danes, which is quite impressive. Not to mention the sneaky under-floor storage compartments. (Note these are not for dogs)
The features are rather impressive – with all the norms found on any expensive BMW or Mercedes like dual zone climate control, seat heaters, trip computer etc. The onboard entertainment is especially great. Sat-nav, dvd player, an onboard harddrive to which you can save music and pictures, bluetooth connectivity for your phone and a speaker set that will make your ears bleed.
Secondly, when I said, “no off road capability” I really meant it. The Journey doesn’t even pretend it can venture from the safety of tarmac – there’s no option to switch to 4×4 mode, the ground clearance is minimal and the wheels are just far too shiny. The 2 litre turbodiesel isn’t brisk, the auto ‘box is archaic and the suspension is so soft it has a hammock effect. Yet as I came to realise, none of this matters in the Journey. This SUV is the ultimate pose mobile – designed to be driven around in a lazy American fashion by those who care what they look like more than where they’re going. And as for being a wasteful SUV, the Journey’s frugality is rather impressive for a car with such versatility – just 9l/100km.
For someone like me who enjoys nothing more than giving a car some stick and driving around like my pants are on fire, it came as a real surprise that I enjoyed the Journey quite so much. I loved the high imposing SUV driving position, yet it isn’t wasteful like most. I loved that the car turned heads everywhere I went and I loved the American-ness of everything. And at just under R300 000 you won’t find better value for money anywhere.
Dodge’s Journey is the SUV that changes everything for me – drive one, trust me you’ll love it as well.
Photo Credit: Motorpics