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Practicality is the name of the game when creating a tolerable family transporter, and the Journey has it in spades—excitement, however, is another story. Buyers get a choice between a 173-hp 2.4-liter four or a 283-hp 3.6-liter V-6 as well as front- or all-wheel drive. Its attractive and comfortable interior offers plenty of storage and can be outfitted with seats for five or seven. The base Journey’s ride is composed, but the sportier R/T’s is too stiff for all but the smoothest roads.
The Journey’s about-face was nearly as dramatic as the Chrysler Comeback that followed. The new Dodge crossover wasn’t just better—it was actually good. But it wasn’t until a 2013 Dodge Journey arrived at our office recently that we were able to put one through our test regimen to quantify exactly how the updates affected performance.
It’s important to note that not all Journeys have been exorcised of their pre-2011 demons. The Journey’s base powertrain is an anemic 2.4-liter four-cylinder paired with an antiquated four-speed automatic—only the lowliest front-drive trims get it. Fortunately, the upgrade is Chrysler’s well-mannered and lively 3.6-liter V-6 and a six-speed automatic. Our test model, a top-of-the-line 2013 Dodge Journey R/T, also brought a stiffened suspension, 19-inch wheels, and optional all-wheel drive. (You can’t get all-wheel drive without upgrading to the V-6.)
With 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque moving 4280 pounds of metal, the Journey feels sprightly in traffic. The V-6 only starts to come into its element around 3500 rpm, though, so you need to commit to the gas pedal to truly enjoy this engine’s best attributes—assertive power, minimal vibration, and rapidly rising revs.