At its first SUOTY three years ago, the Dodge Journey was more jester than contender. Now it's quite the opposite thanks to its redesigned interior, retuned suspension, and new powertrain.
The interior -- once a drab, tired, depressing place -- now puts its stablemates to shame (read: Durango). The eye-pleasing design makes excellent use of materials, and touch points feel soft and plush. We liked the addition of the intuitive Uconnect infotainment system, though we found glitches in Garmin's nav software. The now-intelligent interior packaging offers a storage compartment underneath the passenger seat and kid boosters in the middle row. The lounge chair-like front seats complement the comfortable ride from the retuned suspension.
Chrysler's vaunted 3.6-liter V-6 returns satisfactory straight-line acceleration test numbers, but, from the driver's seat, the Journey doesn't accelerate with the eagerness that 283 horsepower implies. Blame it on fuel economy-conscious gearing. Still, the powertrain remains the best choice for this vehicle; we'll avoid mentioning the four-cylinder/four-speed automatic pairing. You should, too. The Journey showed some reluctance on our light off-road course, and we weren't excited by its exterior design, either.
Will the updates to the new Journey earn it the 2012 Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year calipers? Find out on October 25th.