SOURCEBetter yet, Dodge starts the base SE model at $21,890, but be aware that it features a modest 2.4-liter I4 with four-speed automatic. Moving up to the SE with AWD and a 3.6-liter VVT V6 pushes the price to $27,190. There's even a racier R/T version, but to be realistic, racy isn't the reason to buy a Journey.
Still, the overall drive quality, which has always been pretty good, is a bargain.
Ride is comfortable, the interior is quiet and power is reasonable along with easy handling. AWD also keeps its wheels firmly planted in sloppy weather.
Journey is easy to drive with its six-speed automatic shifting smoothly and its V6, which uses variable valve timing, is strong. The V6 is rated at 283 horses and it'll get up and go. Better yet, in this test model, a noticeable lag in acceleration experienced in past tests had been eliminated.
Handling is light and Journey's turning radius is good, making it easy to park. Braking is fine with four-wheel discs plus stability and traction control. This model rides on 19-inch tires and the wheels are blacked out, giving it a sporty look.
Inside, Journey is comfortable and quiet. Dodge earned a 5-star crash rating for front and side impacts, plus a 4-star rating for rollovers.
The test unit had a black leather interior with soft black textured dash. The leather seats included white stitching at the edges, giving the interior a more upscale look. Trim is a dark graphite looking plastic, and the steering wheel is covered in thick leather. Good sound deadening keeps the interior quiet.
Journey's dash and controls are well laid out and easy to understand and the 8.4-inch nav/radio screen mid-dash is easy to see and use. There are large volume and tuning knobs below it, plus it being so large the touchscreen buttons are easy to use, even when wearing gloves. Dodge's Uconnect voice command system also is standard.
Seats are fairly flat on the bottom with mild back contouring, both comfortable on daily and longer drives. The test vehicle added a $1,100 option package that includes a power driver's seat with power lumbar support. Another $1,250 package includes heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. Also included in the package are remote start, a security alarm, automatic lights and a few other items.
This model includes a third-row seat so Journey can carry up to seven. The rear seat is the right size for small kids, but five adults will fit in the first two rows, which include several clever features. The rear seat folds flat for better storage, and there's additional storage in the floor of the second row. Also, the front passenger's seat folds flat to allow for longer loads such as lumber. That front passenger's seat also has storage under the bottom cushion.
Another package added a Garmin navigation system and ParkView backup camera and ParkSense rear park assist, plus SiriusXM Traffic and Travel features. The package costs $1,195.
I had no glitches with any of the electronic systems in this Journey, while I'd had some issues in past drives.
The sun visors slide and I like the big open bin in front of the console so you can store odds and ends, leaving the cup holders open for a bottle of water or two. Push-button start is standard; however, there is no sunroof.
Gas mileage was poor in the test model. I got just 17.0 mpg in about 60% city driving. That was down considerably from my past drives, one where I averaged 24.4 mpg in mostly highway driving and 22.5 mpg in about a 60% highway and 40% city drive. The EPA rates Journey at 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.
SOURCESales of the Grand Caravan have remained extremely strong, outselling the Town & Country in the U.S. in 2015. The sister minivans have each represented roughly 20 percent — or more — of the minivan segment since 2008, according to Edmunds.com.
That’s excluding 2015, when the Ontario plant that produces the vehicles was shut for retooling for roughly three months.
The Dodge minivan is considered an affordable, entry-level vehicle starting between $22,000 and $31,000. The Chrysler was a bit pricier, starting between $30,000 and $41,000.
Stephanie Brinley, IHS Automotive senior analyst, said with the introduction of the Pacifica and discontinuation of the Grand Caravan she worries that Fiat Chrysler is forcing some Dodge customers out of the minivan segment.
“The buyer that seems to me to be getting squeezed out of this whole deal is the family that wanted a $25,000 minivan,” she said.
“I’m not too sure how long they’ll be serviced.”
Fiat Chrysler has not announced pricing for the 2017 Pacifica’s eight trim models, including two hybrid versions. Bruce Velisek, director of Chrysler brand product marketing, said the vehicle will cover a majority of minivan price segments.
Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Akshay Anand said it makes sense for Fiat Chrysler to let the market decide when to stop producing the Grand Caravan, as the company can easily produce both at the Ontario plant.
“It has brand equity. Any time you think about sun-setting a vehicle, you have to keep brand equity in mind,” he said. “There’s still room for it.”
SOURCEAdded storage is found below deck, behind the third row, and just aft of the first row. Floor bins in row two (removable for cleaning) can hold ice/drinks or any valuables that you'd prefer to keep out of site. The second-row seats also slide up/back to apportion more room for people or cargo, and they can be outfitted with available, integrated child booster seats. At full push-back, the second row can hold adults, though it's a snug fit if those ahead of you are tall. Stowage spots in the first row include the conventional (map pockets, glove box, covered center console) and the unconventional.
The latter are standard on Crossroad Plus and RT models, and both have to do with the front passenger seat. First, it folds flat forward, to allow reeeally long items (ladder, surfboard or what-have-you) to be stored inside, with the hatch closed. Also, the bottom cushion is front-hinged and flips up to reveal hidden, in-seat storage.
All models have soft materials on the touch points. Crossroad Plus and RT trim levels include leather upholstery. The Popular Equipment package ($1,250) further boosts the comfort factor with heated front seats and steering wheel (along with high beam daytime DRLs, security alarm, automatic headlamps, universal garage door opener and a remote start system). With its large, (8.4 inches) legible touchscreen and uncomplicated controls, Chrysler's Uconnect remains one of the better designed access systems for infotainment that you'll find.
Driver visibility is generally good in all directions, though the slab shaped, second row seat headrests take a bite out of the rear view. A partial fix is included in the Navigation and Back-up Camera Group ($1,195), as it adds both a rear park assist and back-up camera (along with a Garmin navigation system and Sirius XM traffic and travel). A blind spot monitoring system would be helpful to combat typical, rear blind spots, but unfortunately, it isn't offered.
Standard on all but the top, R/T trim is a 2.4L four-cylinder, paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. It generates 173 horsepower and 166 lb. ft. of torque, and the EPA fuel economy estimates are 19 mpg's city/26 highway. The four feels underpowered in Journey, and performance isn't helped by the outmoded four-speed transmission. For those reasons (and the fact that AWD isn't available with the 2.4L), the V-6 is the engine of choice. Linked to a six-speed automatic, it's listed at 283 horsepower and 260 lb. ft. of torque. Towing capacity is rated at 2,500 lb. As you would expect, with 100 h.p. more and nearly the same advantage in lb. ft. of torque, the V-6 is far livelier than the four, and provides suitable performance for the job at hand. The six is expected to return 19/26 (FWD); 16/24 (AWD). While the mileage numbers for either motor aren't class-topping, the bottom line in the Journey engine comparison is this: The difference in performance between the four and six is noticeable; the difference in fuel economy is negligible.
Journey's on-demand, AWD system shifts power from its default, front-wheel-drive to the rear wheels as needed to enhance handling on dry roads, and traction on slippery ones. Electronic Stability Control and Traction Control ride assist in maintaining grip, when road conditions deteriorate. Journey feels its 4,238 lb. curb weight when cornering briskly. Handling is safe and predictable, but not sporty. Ride comfort is quite good.
Dodge trimmed the model line from seven to five for 2016 — SE, SXT, Crossroad, Crossroad Plus and R/T versions are offered. Journey's MSRP ranges from $20,995 (for an SE with FWD) to $33,695 (for an R/T with AWD).