Being involved in the marketing game and having a love for motorcars, created an opportunity for me to drive the Dodge Journey. With an overactive brain and the need to launch a client’s brand in Pretoria, we partnered our American denim brand with the American muscle of Dodge for the purpose of chauffeuring the busy fashion media to the event. The event was a great success and the media loved the Dodge Journeys in which they were driven… but what did I think?
The Dodge Journey is a fairly large car by general South African standards, filling a parking bay much like Francois Hogart fills his rugby jersey- tight! American cars are built for the nation in which they are produced. They have larger dimensions, comfortable interiors, glorious sounding engines and the Journey is no exception. We were given two R/T versions of the Journey which is the flagship in the range to its lessor SXT brethren, featuring all the mod cons of today’s top luxury vehicles and what I believe a driver in the SUV category appreciates and will enjoy. The Journey offers some goodies not commonly found at this price, like power heated and fold-away mirrors, three zone climate control, illuminated cup holders, Keyless Enter-N-Go with push button start and steering wheel mounted audio controls. You just need to take the time to get used to the gadgets and before you know it you have a Britsh woman answering you back when you ask to change the radio channel. A reverse rear camera is another cool goodie that you would find in an X6 BMW at double the price as part of the R/T equipment package- based on the size and geometric capacity of the Journey it definitely comes in handy. A beautifully crafted new premium, soft-touch one-piece instrument panel sets the tone, making the car feel luxurious and the tactility of the plastics and leather hide are all of good quality. The infotainment system is a reasonably easy to use touch screen variant that feels easier to operate than some of the knob and push types fitted to most German vehicles today. Its called Uconnect® Touch featuring navigation to voice-command music selections. The Uconnect® Touch media centre makes life in the Journey comfortable and convenient for the driver and passengers. With its touchscreen display and user-friendly, touch-key categories, connecting and controlling personal devices is simple, intuitive and customisable. Though it seemed easy, my test vehicle could not, for love or money, find 5FM in either auto seek or manual mode and would stop at either 97.9 or 98.1. This left me with a rather distorted sound of Gareth Cliff voices and no choice but to tune into that awful morning drive on radio Highveld. Sam Cowan’s voice did sound acoustically precise on the fantastic Karmon Hardon sound system though.
The Journey competes in one of the fastest growing segments in the market. It has similar proportions to a medium sized SUV but feels bigger. The fact that you can seat up to seven passengers makes for an impressive transporting machine- an interior that offers best-in-class utility. Second and third-row seats fold flat to create close to 2 m3 of cargo space. Do you know how much shopping space that is? Huge…
The versatility of the vehicles accommodation is a big advantage for the Journey and makes it unique much like a Swiss Army knife. I loved the innovative storage floor bins in front of the second-row seats that can hold everything from spare jacket to a can of organic Shecketes energy drink and to concealing valuables like a camera, laptop or Louis Vuitton something or other.
So you have an SUV with purposeful looks, a good quality cabin, lots of nice toys, great accommodation and a fairly powerful 3.6l V6 which servers its 206 KW power to the road via its front wheels, sounds to good to be true? Well like everything in life there is the “good” which you have heard, the ugly… Well the Journey is thirsty! The engine is designed in America where fuel prices are dramatically cheaper then in South Africa, so heavy fuel consumption is less of an issue in the States and more of a concern here- where prices are growing! So I do think introducing a Diesel version would add a greater diversity to the offering. Lastly in the equation is the bad, and I’m happy to report the Journey does its job as a crossover in true American style and at a price of R329 990 to R369 990.00, you get a lot of vehicle for your buck. I am told that resale values are not the Journeys best selling point but considering its list of pros, I still would consider the Journey a very note worthy competitor to the likes of the Kia Sorento and Sportage, the Chevrolet Captiva or less even the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, though the latter more on price rather then size.
Anyone want an American Swiss Army knife…?
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