By NITISH S. RELE
Probably one of the most under-rated midsize SUVs on the market is the Dodge Journey, which is 7 inches shorter and 700 pounds lighter than the Durango. Seating up to seven passengers, it is available as a front-wheel or all-wheel drive and in two trims: 2.4-liter inline-4 cylinder engine (173 horsepower) or the 3.6-liter V-6 engine (283 hp @ 6350 rpm and 260 pounds-feet of torque $ 4400 rpm), which was our test drive (R/T trim).
A precise 6-speed auto transmission is standard on the steel unibody structure. Suspension is handled by an independent MacPherson strut and a multilink rear system, which isolates occupants from road noise and imperfections. The power rack-and-pinion steering is razor sharp, with a firm on-center feel.
Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, driver knee airbag, electronic stability control, traction control, remote keyless entry, front active-head restraints, four-wheel antilock brakes, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system.
The aggressively-styled Journey sports the traditional Dodge crosshair grille surrounded by horizontal halogen headlights. The interior is accommodating and attractive, especially black leather seats with red piping. Storage compartments are galore with a deep center console, huge under floor cargo bin, and front-passenger under-seat and second row in-floor bins. Other amenities are dual-zone auto climate control, tilt/telescopic steering column, 40/60 rear flat seat, six-way power driver seat, compass, driver information center and an 8.4-inch UConnect touchscreen for navigation, audio and phone controls.
With a well thought-out cabin, backed by a potent engine and affordable pricing, the Journey definitely deserves a serious look. In particular, families with children will not be disappointed.