THE RIDE: Four-door, five- or seven-passenger 2009 Dodge Journey R/T crossover SUV.
DOWN THE ROAD: Based on a steel unibody construction, the all-new, car-based SUV from Dodge offers a splendid sporty ride with super handling and balance. The front-wheel-drive vehicle also shows off a stylish and athletic stance that will appeal to an array of buyers.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: It is offered in five trims and we had the opportunity to test-drive the impressive 3.5-liter V-6 engine, which cranks out 235 horsepower at 6400 rpm and 232 pounds-feet of torque at 4000 rpm. It is coupled with a spontaneous 6-speed automatic transmission. The front suspension consists of an independent MacPherson strut and coil spring over gas-charged shock absorbers. The rear gets a multilink suspension. The power rack-and-pinion steering system is quick and precise.
LOOK & FEEL: A centered Ram's head in the traditional crosshair chrome grille, surrounded by quad-halogen headlights, is proof of the muscular appearance of this Dodge vehicle. Walk to the rear and you will notice a spoiler on the lift gate, four-piece jeweled red tail lamps and dual chromed exhaust tips. Chrome accents also deck out the cabin, especially visible on the upper center bin latch, shifter bezel and door handles. The four-spoke, tilt-and-telescopic steering column offers a firm grip to the driver. What we valued highly about the Journey was the flexibility of the interior. Let's start with the fold-forward front-passenger seat that reveals an under-floor storage bin, 60/40 split second-row recline and fold-flat seat, dual glove boxes and second-row in-floor storage bins.
SAFETY FIRST: Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist, antiskid system with rollover sensors, stability and traction control, Trailer Sway Control and tire pressure monitoring system are among the standard features.
OUT THE DOOR: $25,920, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges. If looking for a third-row seat, 50/50 fold and recline seat, take the 5+2 flexible seating group option, which also will fetch you a second-row 40/60 tilt-and-slide easy entry seat, rear air-conditioning and a 160-amp alternator.
BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, 225/55R19; wheelbase, 113.8 inches; length, 192.4 inches; weight, 4,001 pounds; fuel capacity, 21.1 gallons; highway, 23 mpg; city, 16 mpg.
WHY DIG IT: The aptly named Journey fills in a niche between the smaller Nitro and the large Durango. It shows off car-like driving manners but with the people-hauling practicality only an SUV can offer. Let your journey begin.