With the Toyota Yaris Liftback's Demise, Dodge's Journey Enters an Exclusive Class

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
with the toyota yaris liftbacks demise dodges journey enters an exclusive class

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.

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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  • Rafakoy Rafakoy on Jan 24, 2019

    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.

  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Jan 25, 2019

    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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