By on January 24, 2019

2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

The passing of the Toyota Yaris hatchback into history doesn’t just spell the end of a forgettable subcompact car, it also leaves the red-blooded Dodge brand sitting in a class of one. What might that special group be, you ask? Some of you already know.

With the Yaris hatch’s discontinuation, the still strong-selling Dodge Journey becomes the only passenger vehicle offered with a four-speed automatic in the United States.

Let’s face it — the Journey doesn’t reside in that hallowed space on the cutting edge of vehicle development. Whatever exists on the opposite pole, that’s where the Journey calls home. Yes, its available 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 (which mates to a six-speed auto) is an attractive and affordable upgrade, but four-cylinder Journeys still trundle from the factory with a four-speed that remembers the Alamo.

This ancient tranny helps keep the Journey cheap to buy, and a great deal of Americans enjoy sliding behind the wheel of a boxy people carrier for next to no money. Canadians, too — ask my sister about her smoking deal on a four-speed base model. With 94,096 Journeys sold in the U.S., the nameplate’s volume rose 5 percent last year, despite the vehicle only undergoing a mild refresh since its 2009 model year introduction. December sales rose 27 percent, year over year.

Small subcompacts like the Chevrolet Spark and Mitsubishi Mirage seem like good candidates for four-speeds but, alas, those pint-sized runabouts carry continuously variable transmissions. The Nissan Frontier pickup, another popular vehicle that was present at the writing of the Old Testament, offers deal seekers a five-speed auto.

Image: 2017 Dodge Journey SE, via FCA

While Canadian buyers have access to the same four-speed/four-cylinder Journey, the crossover can’t boast exclusivity (infamy?) in this tranny category. North of the border, Nissan’s subcompact Micra carries an optional four-speed auto. It comes standard on the top-tier SR model.

But wait, you ask, wasn’t the Journey supposed to undergo a revamp by now? That was once the plan — a new Journey on a new platform for the 2017 model year — but Fiat Chrysler’s five-year product visions are set in Jello, not stone. Following the new Journey’s non-appearance, rumors abounded of the crossover adopting the Alfa Romeo Stelvio’s underpinnings, becoming a sporty model worthy of its Dodge branding. That vehicle was supposed to appear for the 2019 model year, so clearly that didn’t happen.

Automotive News‘ product pipeline suggests 2019 could be the last year for the long-running nameplate, and changes to the model line for 2019 back this up. FCA slashed trim availability for 2019, leaving only the Journey SE, Journey Crossroad, and Journey GT. A three-row crossover expected out soon could carry on the Journey name, or appear as a Jeep-badged vehicle.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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34 Comments on “With the Toyota Yaris Liftback’s Demise, Dodge’s Journey Enters an Exclusive Class...”


  • avatar
    Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

    “…four-cylinder Journeys still trundle from the factory with a four-speed that remembers the Alamo.”

    Or at least the Alamo Rent-A-Car office at SAT.

  • avatar
    labelnerd

    Yes, Dodge Journey is in its own category. It’s called POS. Talk about a vehicle needing to be taken out back and shot.

    • 0 avatar
      teddyc73

      Why is it a “POS”? And if it sells well then what’s the big deal?

    • 0 avatar
      rpol35

      While it may be a POS, it continues to sell like crazy on a completely depreciated investment and tooling basis. Eventually it will go away for the reasons models go away but in the interim if I were Mike Manley and someone suggested to me that it should be taken out back and shot, I would suggest that the individual making the suggestion should be taken out back and shot.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Cheap a$$ 4 cyl 3-row Journeys tend to keep chugging along here on the Navajo Reservation. Usually covered in mud and not seeing the inside of a car wash.

        Looking at AutoTrader I see V6 AWD 3 row models advertised for $25K. If you don’t care about cars and want the equivalent of a short wheelbase minivan (which doesn’t exist anymore) only need the 3rd row occasionally and want BRAND NEW with a warranty. That price is hard to beat.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      I love the journey.

      We need more cars like it.

      Its a dirt cheap people mover. No more, no less. Why should people have to spend 30% more for features they don’t value?

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Whatevs…

    I’ve had two V6 ones as company cars, and they’ve been perfectly fine. I’ve also rented some so-called “better” CUV’s (Lexus NX, Lincoln MKC), and I’ve been left completely underwhelmed. I also drove a rented 4 cylinder Journey from NYC to Toronto and back with my wife and kid and all of our luggage and it didn’t lack for power. And -guess what- that four speed transmission worked perfectly well. You know what annoys me? Multi-speed transmissions that shift into fourth gear by the time the vehicle has reached 20 MPH.

    What was great about those two Journey company cars I had was that cops never gave you a second look when you were speeding. I’m serious, it was like there was a halo of invisibility around those cars. Which is not a bad thing, IMHO.

    Oh, and the Uconnect system was great on both.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I had a rental 3.6 V6 model to drive 8 hours and back for work last spring, I thought it offered a lot of value knowing what they can be bought for lightly used. Although I’d have a hard time not going right to a Caravan for the same drivetrain in a more useful boc. Mine also made some worrying groaning power steering noises with 20k rental miles on the clock, less than encouraging.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      To paraphrase Count Tolstoy, “How many gears does a man need?”

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Love the push poll story here. It isn’t about the woeful uncompetitive non-selling, fleet queen Yaris being shot – it’s about how ancient the Journey is and how jacked up FCA is.

    Ahhhh the Yaris. For about $1.2K less than a Corolla LE you too could drive a cramped car with rear drum brakes, torsion beam suspension, a buzzy 100ish HP engine that got just about the same MPG as the Corolla, a 4-speed auto, steel rims, and a lower safety rating.

    Or you could take the cheaper lease deal on the Corolla, or pony up another $20 a month for the Corolla on a 60 month loan. The same Corolla that gives you better resale value at the finish line, looks better, has vastly more room, modern technology and although a CVT moves it forward, it’s a pretty darn good CVT that does a good job at pretending it has gears.

    Toyota has been phoning in the subcompact class in North America since the Tercel became the Echo, errrr Paseo, errrrr, Yaris, errrrrr, we give up.

    Never mind the value argument that the subcompact class has little reason to exist in North America period, the Yaris was woefully behind the times and in the end retail sales had dropped to below 50% of volume. I doubt even Avis is shedding a tear on this news.

    The Journey is ancient, uncompetitive, and fleet queen fodder, and sells more units in a month than Yaris was moving in a year (roughly – maybe six weeks). It fills a spot of a valid 7 passenger people mover for cheapskates, the lower middle class, and subprime credit holders. It is in a class unto itself in a lot of ways because of what you get for the price point. The next closest competitor is sitting on the showroom floor next to it, the Dodge Caravan.

    On the other hand, if you wanted a subcompact you had much better choices than the Yaris in the same class, starting at the Honda dealer across the street and the Corolla right next to it.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      There was an article on the Yaris right before this one.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      I don’t know if this is still the case, but the Yaris was at some point the absolute TCO champion, the vehicle of choice for the absolute skinflint Dave Ramsey acolytes, the type who expected at least 300k out of their vehicle, and had extensive records and spreadsheets chronicling every single penny spent on it. It’s imperfect and neglected, but anything cheap and reliable deserves at least a modicum of respect.

    • 0 avatar
      downunder

      It’s a bit snarky to imply that the only people that buy these vehicles are those that can’t afford better and somewhat on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. In my case I bought the 7 seat 6 speed 4 cylinder variety. I earn a decent wage and at the price point there was nothing else in range, including secondhand, that would fulfill my requirements. To go “better” would be around another $6-$10K more. And no, I didn’t finance thought the dealer and yes, there are better vehicles around as there are in all cases. But again and that price point nothing would match, either more dollars or smaller car. To paraphrase one of your founding lights of the auto industry, a car at every price point for every person. As for being cheapskates how about substituting “thrifty”, “price conscious” or stretching the dollar to get the most for the least. Not everybody can afford a Honda, Lexus or whatever comes with 7 seats, pratical, and affordable.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Hey I hear you downunder. My wife is about to be a practicing physician but we’re keeping our minivan budget in the low $20k range, and the FCA products despite their problematic reputation are awfully compelling. 2017 Grand Caravan GTs loaded out for $16,500 with less than 50k miles… tempting.

        • 0 avatar
          Grenade

          DONT DO IT! You’ll (or even worse, your wife) be driving a van that:

          1) Eats rear rotors like candy
          2) Exhibits tranny shudders when backing up hills
          3) electronic gremlins galore, such as:
          3a) Power doors that won’t open when the van is parked on the slightest un-level spot.
          3b) Random canbus faults. Ours would randomly shut off when driving (yes both of them)
          4) Shoddy valvetrain seals
          5) Shady dealer network that says engines over 50k miles are perfectly normal consuming 1qt of oil per thousand miles. Never mind the fact that the sump would be empty at the end of a normal oil change interval.

          Trust me. I’ve had two. Both were for my wife, and I got to hear about the issues on a near daily basis.

          There’s a reason they are cheap. Don’t fall for it.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Go back and read what I wrote more carefully.

        “… It fills a spot of a valid 7 passenger people mover for cheapskates…”

        https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cheapskate

        Cheapskate: A miserly or stingy person

        • 0 avatar
          downunder

          Once again you lump in “thrifty”, “price conscious”, “value for money” with the connotation that that is a bad thing with the label “cheapskate”. Cheapskate is somebody would wants a Rolls Royce with a Mini price tag (the BL type, not the faux BMW). Cheapskate would be purchasing the car but deleting the mudflaps to save a dollar. Budget conscious is not ordering the 8.4 uconnect with GPS for an extra $3000 and replacing it with a Tom Tom navigator for $250.

  • avatar
    russification

    phased out manual transmissions is “planned obsolescence” writ large

  • avatar
    SixspeedSi

    I love the Journey.

    It’s so mediocre in most ways but does its intended function quite well. The Journey isn’t flashy or innovative but allows many people/families to get in a bigger vehicle for a low entry price.

    Plus those 90 degree back doors make the sell so much easier!

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      I hate 90-degree doors – it just makes it easier for kids to whack other cars in the parking lot. Our 2008 Sienna has front doors that open to almost 90, and I’d really like to replace the door checks with shorter ones, but then I know what a pain it it to replace them, as you usually have to pull the glass, regulator, channel, etc., to get them out.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      ” allows many people/families to get in a bigger vehicle for a low entry price. ”

      May be the reason why it lasted this long on the market. Young military families, like 1 and 2 stripers, seem to like the Journey very much.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      Except the built in booster seats! How is that not in every other car…

  • avatar

    I started my dealership career in 2008 at a Chrysler Dodge Jeep store and remember the launch of the Journey… it was a huge disappointment then too. I was so underwhelmed. That dealer didn’t survive the recession for me to return to when I got home from a overseas vacation to Iraq and I never returned to a Chrysler store for a job either. I like basic utility, but there is a difference between that and cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      Deathproof

      I was working for FCA (DaimlerChrysler) at the time in the Engineering Body Development team for the Journey. I can remember talking with Engineering colleagues before meetings about how many cost cutting measures we were all being tasked with on that platform. And I remember when the first pilot prototype vehicle was built in the tech center in Auburn Hills, and Dieter Z., the CEO at the time, came down to the end of the line to sit inside and get a feel for the car. I remember being just close enough to the main entourage to hear him say… “the Dash looks a little cheap to me! Is this the best we could do with the budget?” For those who care to look, look up a 2009 Journey with the interior pics and see how bad it looked, even back then. But the car was a decent value proposition as others here have mentioned.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        The post refresh was much better, IMHO.

        But I will say I’ve driven a 2009 V6 FWD model almost 100 miles (Phoenix and back) and those plastics were indestructible. My Toyota plastics look nicer but scratch if you look at them cross-eyed.

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      Some people need cheap and are grateful for the choice. I can afford to drive anything I want and the DD is an ’07 Civic. There’s no shame in basic transportation for basic needs and the money saved can go for other things that take precedence. I have respect for folks that have the discipline to live within their means.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        I am with you sir.

        I can waste lots of my $$$ on posh German iron like my neighbors do, but that is foolish from my perspective. Yes, I like cars, but I like value more. Give me value, and I will be your customer.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I always seem to see people flicking cigarette butts out of these. Then I wonder how much they got reamed by the F&I office.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, you know the old story…after you get f**ked, you want a cigarette.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      F&I is the worst part about buying a car. Though my credit is 840+, and I could easily buy any car at the Kia dealership, when I went to close the deal on a stripped Forte, I was treated like an ignorant scumbag. I will never forget how the poorly-groomed FI guy, upon being told “No” on “bridge financing” said “Let me tell you the mistake you make here…”

      Thing is, the dumbass knew I didn’t even need to finance the car, was just doing it because the 36 month 0% deal offered the best bottom line value…and my money was already invested earning more.

      Amazing how some dealers put so much effort into a nice showroom, even some of the salespeople are service oriented…then customers get herded to the back room where the attempted anal rape begins….. There MUST be a better way…

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I miss CrabSpirits

  • avatar
    downunder

    Or research what they did to fit the 6 speed auto to the 2.4l engine found in the Fiat variant.

  • avatar
    rafakoy

    All those haters should know the Journey is the only car available for less than 25k new with a real third line of seats. We got a lease for a V6 one in 2016 and our lease is about to end now, my family and I couldn’t be more happier with it, it’s probably the best SUV we’ve ever had and some of our former SUVs were the Mitsubishi Outlander, Honda CRV, and I consider the Journey a better car than any of the other ones. I realize the car could use a more modern transmission, but other than that, you really has nothing to complain with the Journey, it’s a very reliable car as well. There is a reason why they’ve sold so many of them, the people who own them, love it.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    I would take a 2 speed Powerglide over some of the CVTs on the market today, including the POS Nissan puts in the Rogue.

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