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2013 Dodge Journey Crew Road Test

Dodge's (optional) seven-passenger family hauler quietly improves for the 2013 model year

What It Is
If you just can't bring yourself to get the minivan then this utilitarian crossover is the way to go.
Best Thing
An improved interior gives the Journey a fighting chance
Worst Thing
The chassis has a hard time containing the Pentastar V-6 engine, hence the torque steer.
Snap Judgment
If you have a family, and want something that can handle daily life without breaking the bank, then the 2013 Dodge Journey is a solid choice.


The Dodge Journey was born during a turbulent period for its parent company, Chrysler. Originally introduced back at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, and then again at the same show two years later, the Journey was able to quietly gain traction in the market despite the disruption in Chrysler's cash-flow. In its first four years on sale, Dodge averaged about 50,000 sales per year for the Journey; after refreshing the crossover with a better interior and new engines for the 2011 model year, sales climbed to just under 80,000 per year. As gas prices continued to climb, and people continued moving away from SUVs and heading over to the crossover segment, it was all good news for the Journey, which gets a combined 20 mpg, and sales reflect that trend.

The problem with the crossover segment though is that the Journey isn't the only one occupying it. Heavyweights like the Toyota Highlander and Kia Sorento are the Journey's direct competition, both of which sell hand-over-fist. Like the aforementioned competition, the Journey doesn't overwhelm you in any particular category. To see where the Journey sits in the pecking order of the crossover segment, we spent a week with Dodge's sporty family hauler and left with a new opinion. Here's what we found.

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What We Drove

If you don't have any wiggle room in the wallet, but are desperate for a 2013 Dodge Journey Crew, you can escape the dealership with one for $27,995. The test vehicle that spent the week with us was a little pricier thanks to additional options. Standard features includes front, side, and front seat-mounted airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, traction control, and keyless entry. Inside, every 2013 Dodge Journey Crew comes with dual zone climate control, Chrysler's Uconnect system and its 8.4-inch infotainment screen, Sirius XM radio, and a couple USB ports for various smartphones and media devices. Like some minivans, the 2013 Dodge Journey features second row in-floor storage bins, but it also utilizes the front passenger's seat as a storage bin, too. The rear seats all fold flat making cargo hauling a breeze, but if you need to keep the seats upright for a child seat, the LATCH points are easy to get to at the base of the chair. Our test vehicle was equipped with the optional integrated booster seats, a $225 option that allows you to raise the seat cushion higher for younger passengers, obviating the need for a separate booster seat. After earning a four star crash test safety rating from The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2013 Dodge Journey was awarded with a Top Safety Pick for the latest model year.

Other options included the Flexible Seating Group ($1,150), Navigation and Sound Group I ($995), a power sunroof ($995), and a six-speaker sound system with a subwoofer ($395). All of these bells and whistles brought the final asking price of our 2013 Dodge Journey Crew to $32,750.

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The Commute

The Journey manages a long commute well, without grabbing you by the lapels. Southern Californians can tell you that a comfortable seat and an easy-to-use media player are about all you need. This is good news for the 2013 Dodge Journey because it has both of these things. The 8.4-inch Uconnect system benefits from the Journey's simple interior layout and draws your attention directly to it. Chrysler included some physical knobs and buttons, but that number is minimal, shifting all of your attention to the infotainment screen. When your attention is demanded on the road in front of you, there are triggers on the back of the steering wheel spokes to control the volume and scroll through songs or radio stations.

On our morning commute to Automotive.com's HQ in El Segundo, California, we encounter more traffic than many people see in an entire year. That being said, if you have to be stuck in traffic for a greater portion of your adult life, it could be worse than spending it in the 2013 Dodge Journey Crew. When the traffic flow allows it, the Journey's ride is quiet, comfortable, and composed when it's getting up to highway speed or just cruising along. Los Angeles traffic also gave the Journey's disc brakes an extensive workout but provided confident stopping power every time we needed it.

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The Grocery Run

Another strength of the 2013 Dodge Journey is its ability to haul almost anything under the sun by simply reconfiguring the rear seats. With every seat in place, you can stuff 39.7 cubic-feet of cargo into the Journey, which is good enough for a week's worth of groceries for a family of five. Putting the seats down frees up 67.6 cubic-feet of real estate, good for various tables from IKEA that need to be assembled. The in-floor storage allows for even more space to store those fragile groceries like bread and milk. The front passenger seat storage bin doesn't really have a defined role, but it can hold various things like a purse or an iPad.

At six-feet wide and 16-feet long, the 2013 Dodge Journey is easy to maneuver through a crowded parking lot. If you miss the turn into the store, you don't have to sweat, as the Journey's turning radius is plenty capable with a 9.5-foot wheelbase. After you find a spot and do your shopping, loading all of your new goods is easy by simply folding the seats down with a release switch. If you opt for the third-row seating like our tester had, you can still carry groceries without making the kids walk home, despite how badly you may want them to.

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The Weekend Fun

Besides the interior improvements over the original Journey, the 2013 Dodge Journey benefits from Chrysler Group's touted 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine. A six-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth, seamless power and works amicably with the V-6 engine. This configuration is responsible for 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. With those numbers, getting onto the freeway isn't a white-knuckle experience but torque steer--that tug you feel under acceleration on the steering wheel in powerful front-wheel drive cars--is very evident. If you give it too much gas too quickly, the power produced by the engine practically rips the wheel to the right without your own doing. Ours was a front-wheel drive model; all-wheel drive Journeys don't suffer from the problem.

It's not the most attention-grabbing vehicle in Dodge's stable but, next to the Challenger, the Journey was born to go on long road-trips. Once at highway speeds, the 2013 Dodge Journey sails along quietly and comfortably. The Uconnect infotainment system helps the miles slip by with some help from Bluetooth audio and Sirius XM radio. The optional power sunroof gives passenger's the option to look at something different when you run out of songs to sing with the family. With an EPA rated 25 mpg on the highway, the Journey is able to travel great distances before needing to pull off and refuel.

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Summary

After spending a week with the 2013 Dodge Journey, no one was overwhelmed with the crossover, but no one had anything bad to say about it either. However, it was clear that if you're going to go with a Dodge Journey, the Crew trim level is the one to get. The optional third-row seating is a bargain and also one we would recommend if you have a family and need to move them around on the cheap. Fuel economy is respectable at 20 mpg combined making gas station stops few and far between on long road-trips. The 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission is spry and delivers adequate power for all situations.

Overall, we found the 2013 Dodge Journey to be a pleasant surprise, and a solid crossover for the money. It's less expensive than a Toyota Highlander, bigger than a RAV4, and offers that optional third-row seat. At $32,750, it's a good buy.

Spec Box

Price-as-tested: $32,750
Fuel Economy
EPA City: 17 mpg
EPA Highway: 25 mpg
EPA Combined: 20 mpg
Cargo Space: 17 "grocery bags" Child Seat Fitment, Second Row: Excellent
Child Seat Fitment, Third Row (if applicable): Good
Estimated Combined Range: 512.5 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Low

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Notebook Quotes

"The instrument cluster looks sporty and attractive. There was clear effort and thought put in to this vehicle. The engine provided ample response, and overall the Journey seemed very capable." -Matthew Askari, Associate Editor
"I drove the Journey at night -- you know, when the lights went down in the city. And I was pleasantly surprised. So what's not to like? Torque steer. The ride is fine, but the chassis can't handle that power." - Jacob Brown, Associate Editor

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