Two different powertrains are available on the Journey for 2009, and both offer a distinct choice of price and fuel efficiency versus power and refinement. Three different trim levels are available: SE, SXT, and R/T. The base SE comes with a 173-horsepower, 2.4L four-cylinder engine and four-speed automatic transmission; the well-equipped SXT and sporty, top-of-the-line R/T models come with a 235-horsepower, 3.5L V6 engine and six-speed automatic with AutoStick, which allows manual gear selection if desired. With the four-cylinder engine, the Journey is rated at 19 city, 25 highway in the EPA fuel economy cycle.
All Journey models have standard front-wheel drive, but an all-wheel drive system is also available on SXT and R/T. The system sends most power to the front wheels except when power is needed at the back wheels for traction. Between 25 and 65 mph, some power is also sent to the rear wheels to enhance handling and stability.
The Journey's versatile interior is configured so as to carry up to seven people plus cargo, or a combination thereof. Five-passenger seating is standard on all models, with the three-row, seven-passenger layout available on upmarket SXT and R/T models. In the third row, which is elevated slightly above the level of the first and second row, Dodge says that the Journey allows two inches more head room than its leading competitors, and the back two rows can be folded down to allow a huge cargo floor.
The Journey's back doors open 90 degrees to allows easy entry and loading access, and the second-row seat has a child-seat-friendly feature that allows it to slide forward or rearward a total of 4.7 inches to bring children closer or allow more legroom for adults. Access is made even easier through the so-called Tilt 'N Slide feature on third-row models, which allows the second row to tilt upward and slide forward.
A clever, optional Flip 'N Stow in-seat storage system under the front passenger seat includes a fold-down front passenger seat and has enough space to store a planner or other small items with the seat down in place, and two other in-floor bins located just behind the front seats can hold a dozen 12-ounce beverage cans out of sight. The bins have latched lids and removable liners. Third-row models feature yet another similar covered compartment behind the rearmost seats.
The Journey's carlike underpinnings include a four-wheel independent suspension with a multi-link rear suspension layout for good handling and a smooth ride. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes are standard across the model line, along with an electronic stability control that includes a Trailer Sway Control mode to help prevent the loss of stability while towing. Front seat-mounted side air bags are standard, along with supplemental side-curtain bags that provide head protection to all three rows.
Noteworthy options include a UConnect hands-free calling system, a rechargeable flashlight, three-zone climate control, a sunroof, a trailer-tow package, the Parkview backup camera, and an entertainment package that includes a navigation system, second-row video entertainment screen, wireless headphones, 368-watt audio, and six speakers with a subwoofer.
Dodge's 2009 Journey is a new car-based utility vehicle--a so-called crossover vehicle--that offers the ride quality and agile handling of a small sedan, combined with the roomy, versatile interior of a sport utility vehicle. It shares mechanical underpinnings with the Dodge Avenger sedan yet is several inches longer and has third-row seating to accommodate up to seven occupants.