A so-so Total Car Score for the 2012 Dodge Journey shows that this one-time back marker has moved a ways up the field. After coming out three years ago and failing to impress, a makeover last year has improved its fortunes.
The four-cylinder engine is considered underpowered, but the V6 option is one of the Chrysler Group's secret weapons in the battle for buyers. It manages to balance respectiable fuel economy with a solid amount of power.
The chassis has been tuned for composure, yet it still rides comfortably. The steering hasn't been so successful and is singled out by critics for its lack of feel.
The Journey's cabin, however, sees notable improvement with things like smart stowage ideas, nicer materials and optional child booster seats. Also available are sliding/reclining second-row seats. Total cargo space is 67.6 cubic feet -- not the best in its class, but not far off.
The only major changes for 2012 Journey are to the trim levels.
The 2012 Dodge Journey crossover SUV comes with front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive and can seat up to seven.
The base engine for the lower two trims is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder making 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque, which is then directed through a four-speed automatic transmission. The driveline for the higher trims has a 3.6-liter V6 with 283 hp and 260 lb-ft linked to a six-speed auto.
Trim levels include the American Value Package (AVP), SE, SXT, Crew and R/T. AVP is new for 2012, and although it's the entry level version standard equipment is still quite generous: air conditioning, keyless ignition and power accessories, for example. SE brings tinted glass and roof rails.
SXT means the bigger engine, satellite radio and 17-inch alloy wheels. Crew pushes wheel size up to 19 inches while bringing an upgraded audio system and Bluetooth (optional on SE and SXT models). The "sporty" R/T has black leather upholstery with red stitching.
Options include navigation, a sunroof, child booster seats and three-zone climate control.
Standard safety equipment includes ABS with brake assist, front side and side curtain airbags, a driver's knee airbag, traction and stability controls, and active front head restraints.
EPA estimates for the 2012 Journey are 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined with front- or all-wheel drive/four-cylinder configuration. A front-drive V6 Journey achieves 17/25/20 mpg, or 16/24/19 mpg with all-wheel drive.
With the proper equipment, the 2012 Dodge Journey can tow up to 2,500 pounds.
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