By on September 25, 2019

Image: 2017 Dodge Journey SE, via FCA

We’ve already looked at the Nissan Sentra today, so it’s time to focus on the Dodge Journey. Yes, we’re all about the common man here at TTAC.

If it somehow escaped your attention, and we’re not sure how it could, we’re here to tell you that the Journey will stage a return for 2020, continuing a lineage that’s attracted only minor changes since the model’s appearance at the tail end of the Bush administration. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, but Fiat Chrysler has a way of changing plans at the last minute.

You’ll recall that the Journey was to gain a new generation in late 2016, some three years ago. Then, we were told that the deferred next-gen Journey would make an appearance in 2019, possibly borne by the sporty platform found beneath the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Many of you probably lost sleep for several nights following that report.

Well, 2019 came and the only gift awaiting Journey lovers was a culling of trims. Fast-forward a year and we have the 2020 Journey: the same smallish midsize crossover as before, now offered only as a four-cylinder, front-drive vehicle with a four-speed automatic. For some reason, this author is immediately reminded of last night’s Dodge Stratus-themed Twitter convo.

According to FCA, the 2020 Journey will be available only in SE Value and Crossroad trim, and only with the company’s ancient 2.4-liter four-banger, a mill good for 172 horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque. Gone is the optional 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and all-wheel drive. Offering a standard four-speed auto certainly makes the Journey an exclusive creature in 2020, though perhaps not the kind of creature lusted after by autophiles the world over.

2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

As your author is indeed a common man himself, he can claim to know two people with four-year-old Journeys in their driveways, one of them a base four-cylinder/four-speed model, the other a six-cylinder/six-speed version. The former Journey had its fully rotted oil pan replaced this summer; the latter, its front wheel bearings, and the back window shattered when the owner’s son slammed the front driver’s side door.

Make of that what you will.

Certainly, the eradication of so many build configurations points to a looming discontinuation. With no reliable word on a second life for the nameplate, we’re forced into believing that 2020 is the Journey’s last dance. Automotive News‘ product pipeline suggests the Journey’s long road could come to an end with the coming model year, with the model possibly replaced by a larger, three-row Dodge crossover in 2022.

In a July interview with Automobile, Dodge brand boss Tim Kuniskis didn’t breathe a word about a Journey replacement — in fact, he suggested the model might live longer than we assume.

“I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it’s perfectly aligned with the direction that the brand’s headed,” Kuniskis said, “but it’s a great-looking car in a great segment that sells extremely well, so I see no problem with Journey.” He added that the Journey, with its low starting price, will “fill a bit of a gap” after Dodge stops building the ancient Grand Caravan.

Well, the Caravan’s last year is also expected to be 2020, so does that mean we can expect a 2021 Journey? It’s quite likely. Fiat Chrysler dueling mantras are “If it works, keep building it,” and “If it’s really profitable, build more.” How else to explain the proliferation of Jeep Wrangler variants and the continuation of Ram’s previous-gen half-ton as the 1500 Classic?

So, that’s it. The base Journey of your dreams will remain available for another year, and maybe more.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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62 Comments on “2020: The Dodge Journey’s Last Dance?...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    2020 Journey: the same smallish midsize crossover as before, now offered only as a four-cylinder, front-drive vehicle with a four-speed automatic.

    BOO! HSSSSSSSSSSSS!

    You got rid of the part that made it livable.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Agreed. I had a V6/6A rental last year to drive 8 hours to Iowa and back and it was truly a very decent car, aside from the power steering randomly making some morning-sickness sounds in the parking lot after a fuel stop. Only happened once.

    • 0 avatar
      StudeDude

      FCA should update the Journey with either the 8 or 9 speed transmissions with both engines.

      • 0 avatar
        2manycars

        I don’t see any need for more than 4 speeds:

        1. Starting gear
        2. Intermediate/Passing gear
        3. Cruising gear
        4. Overdrive (for freeways)

        Anything more is needless complexity. (Heck, I’ve driven cars with 2-speed and 3-speed transmissions that were perfectly good.)

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          Any transmission that is actuated by any means other than my right arm/left foot is needless complexity if you are going down that road.

        • 0 avatar
          Garrett

          THIS!

          My car has an 8 speed auto, which means the only chance of it being in the right gear when I need power is if I have it in sport mode and it hasn’t upshifted yet.

          Before someone mentions “manual” shifting the auto, I’ve never been a fan.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Transmissions suck.

          The second best kind is a fixed planetary gearset, no shifting, with the ring connected to an electric motor and the wheels; the planets connected to the gas engine; and the sun connected to another electric motor.

          The best kind is a fixed reduction gear and nothing else, with an electric motor on one side and the wheels on the other.

          I now own one of each and I’m increasingly surprised by the obtrusiveness of shifts every time I drive a car with a conventional auto.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          Aside from the 3A in my Diplomat I’ve never *disliked* any of my torque-converter automatics. Although going from a 5A to an 8A I do prefer the 8A’s behavior. I think it has more to do with the manufacturer, gearing, and the programming over the total number of gears.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The ZF (or copy) 8A is about as good as conventional automatics get.

            But after you drive shift-free for a while, the shifts still seem arbitrary and very noticeable. My most recent conventional auto drive was a Toyota Sienna with the Aisin transverse 8A; I was very happy to return to my hybrid with almost the same engine and the PSD.

            Honestly my favorite automatic I’ve ever driven was a 5-speed, in a previous-generation Mazda 6. That transmission made pretty much exactly the same decisions I would have with a stick.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Mazda does a great job with automatics IMO (well, maybe not the old Jatco 4spd in our old 89 and ’98 MPVs). My friend had an ’09 Mazda 3i (2.0/4A) and even that managed to feel engaging. Recent CX5 rentals also impressed. Very direct feeling without lugging too much (my wife’s Camry does this), really makes the most of available engine power.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            ajla, what didn’t you like about the Diplomat’s transmission? Was it a lack of robustness? Did Chrysler actually find a way to mess up the behavior of the TF in efforts to keep up with the original CAFE?

            My family had three cars with TorqueFlites, an A904, an A404, and an A413. All of them shifted more predictably and smoothly than the automatics in every other so-equipped car we’ve had since except for a 2004 Acura TSX. We’ve had other automatic cars with three, four, five, and eight forward speeds, but none of them called as little negative attention to themselves.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            *edit – I remember nothing about the 4A in the 1994 or 1995 Lexus SC400 that I drove from January 1996 through March of 1997, which suggests that it was better behaved and more robust feeling than the ZF 8-speeds in my recent Audis too. Considering how little I liked that car, it must have been a great transmission to avoid attracting my ire.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            What killed the 3A for me was the lack of overdrive.
            To help out on the highway (and probably for some CAFE assistance as well) almost every late 80s M-body has a 2.24 final drive. That really kneecaps the 318 even though it had okay power ratings for a Malaise Era mid-size car. First gear is aggressive but after that you’re basically in a sail boat. And I got the fuel economy of a BOF SUV.
            Maybe hooked up to a 383/440 or in a world of the 55mph speed limit the 3A would have been okay.

        • 0 avatar
          Mike Beranek

          This is correct, all of the “gear inflation” recently is a quest for incremental economy increases at the expense of long-term reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I don’t understand why they have’t gone exclusively to 62TE 6spd autos on the 4cyl, that combination already existed in the Avenger/200 as an option, and has been produced en masse for the Caravan for a long time. I assume this might be some kind of union related agreement to keep a plant running? I can’t imagine the 4spd is much (or any) cheaper to produce than the 6spd once you account for production scale.

  • avatar
    NoID

    “Dodge Journey: No, it really is about the destination.”

    “Dodge Journey: Are we there yet?”

    “Dodge Journey: Let’s take the midnight train”

    “Dodge Journey: Yesterday’s Technology Tomorrow”

  • avatar
    ajla

    I don’t think there is ever going to be a “new” Dodge.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Fully understand that the Journey represents the biggest bang for the buck for those looking for a new, cheap, family hauler and who pay by the cubic foot or pound.

    Also understand that a Pentastar powered Journey with a ‘modern’ transmission (6 or 8 speed) would further eat into Caravan sales.

    However with the looming demise of the Caravan (boo, hiss), then would not upgrading the power train of the Journey allow it to soldier on for a number of years and serve a largely overlooked market segment?

    As an aside there are 3 Journeys on my street. All owned by retirees. And all are relatively satisfied with their Journeys and and believe they got a ‘deal’.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I’m guessing that FCA is going to push Caravan and Journey intenders to either the Voyager or the Cherokee depending upon their desires.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        No one is going to buy a Journey unless they need (or think they need) a third row, and the only other FCA product with one is the much more expensive and capable Durango.

        If you can live with two rows you’d be much better served by a low-trim version of something in the CR-V/RAV4/Forester/etc. class than by a Journey, for around the same money.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Although I agree that CRV’s and RAV4’s are superior vehicles than a Journey, according to their corporate websites they have an MSRP of approximately $4,500 more than a Journey. Or around 20% more. And you can work a ‘deal’ on a Journey. For instance new 2018’s are still available.

          So cross shopping them may not be a realistic option for all.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            In the US, the difference between a stripped FWD RAV4 and a 2019 Journey SE FWD is about $2,300. I suspect that total ownership cost will favor the Toyota, but that means nothing if you need three rows.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Don’t know about CR-Vs at the moment, but there are also deals to be had on Foresters and RAV4s. There are also deals on closeout old-model Escapes and Kia Sportages. Any of those would be superior to a Journey if you don’t need the third row.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            Checking the no haggle dealership chain here’s website, their cheapest Rav4 (out of 130) is 24K + TTL. LE FWD.

            They have 5 Journeys. 4 of them are under 20 and there’s a leftover 2018 for 18.

            Dodge sold 100,000 of these last year and it wasn’t because they’re good cars.

  • avatar
    Heino

    Saw a lot of these with young families in Paris and Madrid. Also saw a Chrysler Caliber and a PT Cruiser. My eyes still hurt.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Four years old and the oil pan rotted? I sure hope FCA paid for that.

    With the four, this is a penalty box (I’ve rented one), and if I needed a lot of newish seats for not much money I’d be looking for a closeout Grand Caravan or even a gently used one before settling for this.

    • 0 avatar
      ravenuer

      So how does an oil pan full of oil…..rust?

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Oddly enough, I have seen the same thing, though it was on a 2012 Mazda. The transmission oil pan was improperly painted from the factory and the paint failed within a few years. The flake rust had set in by the time it was noticed, but (luckily) it hadn’t leaked. The corrosion protection on the rest of the car seems pretty good, but that single part was bad.

      The brand new replacement pan had bad paint too, BTW. It had to be stripped, primed, and repainted before installation.

  • avatar
    thejohnnycanuck

    A 4 cylinder Journey makes a compelling case… for just about anything else.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve203

      >>A 4 cylinder Journey makes a compelling case… for just about anything else.<<

      That may be the plan. Make the Caravan and Journey both so undesireable/unavailable that people let themselves be upsold to a Voyager/Pacifica, so that, maybe, someday, they finally recover their investment in the Pacifica.

      Of course, the Steve plan for some time now has been to replace the US market non-grand Cherokee with the Chinese market Commander (2 row) and Grand Commander (3 row) to both perk up 2 row sales and bring a new 3 row to replace the Journey. Mike Manley seems to have lost my phone number tho.

      • 0 avatar
        thejohnnycanuck

        The Steve plan sounds good assuming FCA intends to build them in North America.

        By the way I don’t hate the 2.4, we have one in our Patriot with the 5spd manual. Of course the Patriot tips the scales at about 3,100lbs vs. what I’m guessing is close to 2 tons in the Journey. It’s clearly overwhelmed and I can only imagine driving one through the mountains at any kind of an elevation.

        • 0 avatar
          Steve203

          >>The Steve plan sounds good assuming FCA intends to build them in North America.<<

          The Steve plan would have the Commander and Grand Commander built at Belvidere, where the Cherokee is presently built. Meanwhile, the old Cherokee tooling goes to Brazil to offer a step up from the Renegade and Compass that are already built there.

          Not only is the 2.4 dealing with a heavier car in the Journey, it's dealing with a 4 speed trans that will either have the engine running at high speed on the highway, or midrage performance will be compromised by large gaps between gears.

    • 0 avatar
      Mnemic

      I think its just a fleet thing, makes them dirt cheap to build and profits higher for FCA.

  • avatar
    downunder

    I cannot fathom why FCA still gives the USA a 4-speed gearbox behind the four-cylinder, at least in the FIAT version we get the 6-speed from the V6.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I logged in to say something similar. A young man I know has a Dodge Avenger with the 2.4 and 6 speed, it’s a nice driver. I wonder if it’s due to EPA regs, they may not want to spend the money to certify a new engine/trans in this body.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    If cheap enough I can foresee rental companies stocking up on these ‘stripped’ Journeys.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    “the eradication of so many build configurations”

    So, there’s no more Any Way You Want It trim.

    No doubt the Open Arms trim level is now the base. And from the reports, it looks like many people took them up on the Faithfully model.

    “Dodge Journey–whatever you do, don’t stop believin’ “.

    Oh, wait–here’s the commercial: video opens, Journey sitting on the road in the woods, and the music starts.

    You make me weep and wanna die
    Just when you said we’d try…

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Does FCA have anything remotely resembling a plan for Dodge or Chrysler? The money flushed down the toilet on Fiat and Alfa Romeo would have been better spent with the two North American brands.

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    For FCA customer sakes, they should shelve the Journey asap ! … it has the worst quality of any current vehicle that FCA sells in North America , so it isnt doing any favors to their reputation

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    I call balls and strikes.

    I have no ulterior motives in opining on manufacturers, makes or models of vehicles, and render my judgment based on my personal experience and interactions with such vehicles.

    Thus, I can both praise and viciously rip two different models of vehicles from the same manufacturer (or of the same badge) where warranted.

    Such is the case here, with FCA products.

    The Journey is trash and should be discontinued.

    The Durango, which can be had reasonably equipped (GT AWD) for around 33k plus TTL with an MSRP of $44,560 is the best vehicle anywhere near real world pricing of 35k OTD, if not the best, similar to the 300S AWD with an OTD price of around 32k, in their respective segments.

    Both the Durango and 300S match or exceed vehicles literally costing 2x as much OTD in terms of comfort, refinement, room, ride quality, standard and available features, reliability (both the V6 and V8 from FCA is proven and reliable, as are their transmissions, electronics, etc.), user friendliness, and fuel economy (admittedly more so with the Pentastar V6, but even the V8 is competitive with Toyota’s, Nissan’s, Ford’s, etc.).

    The Journey and Compass are utter trash, with their main redeeming features that they can haul a lot of cargo with decent fuel economy, and a pretty simplistic powertrain (world engine 2.4 liter and fairly reliable transmission), for very little money needed, even new (I think that they can be had for about 17k plus TTL).

    • 0 avatar
      ThirdOwner

      How does the Patriot, in the 2.4l FWD+5MT configuration, rate in your book?

      • 0 avatar
        thejohnnycanuck

        I can’t speak for DeadWeight but we’re more than happy with ours. It has surprising power and while it’s no corner carver the ride is remarkably cushy with the Touring suspension and taller profile tires.

        For a while my son had a North Edition with low-profile tires and the difference in ride quality was like night and day.

    • 0 avatar
      thejohnnycanuck

      Technically the Compass has the Tigershark 2.4 which is the world engine with Fiat’s MultiAir system. The Journey still maintains the ‘regular’ world engine with VVT.

      I wouldn’t call the Compass trash. It’s one of the last CUVs still available with 3 pedals and 4WD.

      • 0 avatar
        redapple

        RE DW Comment.

        I came to the same discovery. Sticker on a CRV EX or Forester Mid- high trim is about $30K. Out the door once TTL is added? – maybe 10% less.

        I did a truecar on a decent Durango and it wasn’t a whole lot more. Whoa – that s a nice deal.

        Then I truecared up an accord EX vs a 300S. Whoa again. Lots of bargains over there at FCA.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          “The Durango, which can be had reasonably equipped (GT AWD) for around 33k plus TTL with an MSRP of $44,560 is the best vehicle anywhere near real world pricing of 35k OTD,” – DW

          Ancient, amortized platform or not, that doesn’t sound like profitable business.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      Agreed, the Compass is NOT something I could live with. The 9 speed automatic in that thing is beyond redemption.

      I wrote up a Compass rental experience here: http://www.curbsideclassic.com/uncategorized/cc-rental-review-2018-jeep-compass-trail-hawk-did-sergio-save-chrysler/

  • avatar

    Journey is what you cross shop if you can’t quite qualify for a Rogue or an Altima. I know asking what a car costs to make is a complicated question, but this is well amortized so what, $3500 each to produce ? Clearly worth every cent, and lots of room for FCA-Dealer-bank profits

    Also welcome back DW

  • avatar
    macmcmacmac

    Eco-dieselize it.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    I’m just an ordinary average guy
    My friends are all boring
    And so am I
    We’re just ordinary average guys

    We all live ordinary average lives
    With average kids
    And average wives
    We all go bowling at the bowling lanes
    Drink a few beers
    Bowl a few frames
    We’re just ordinary average guys
    Ordinary average guys

    And every Saturday we work in the yard
    Pick up the dog do
    Hope that it’s hard (whaf whaf)
    Take out the garbage and clean out the garage
    My friend’s got a Chrysler
    I’ve got a Dodge
    We’re just ordinary average guys
    Ordinary average guys

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    There’s a fire engine red one in my area with blackened trim pieces where ordinarily there would be some tacky fake chrome. It kind of catches my eye, even if it’s not a vehicle I need. Then again, red will always draw my attention as it’s my favorite color.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    When I accidentally contacted a STOP sign stanchion in a local Kroger parking lot a week before the first anniversary of my taking delivery of my 2013 Accord, Enterprise gifted me a Dodge Avenger with that powertrain while the Honda was in the body shop.

    Worst car I’ve ever driven! That droning, wheezy motor was the worst of it, with the utterly lifeless steering and a symphony of interior rattles adding to the misery!

    The refreshed 1st-generation Compass I had a few years later after my car was bumped in front of my parents’ house was only better because the six-speed cut down the din of the 2.4 lump.

    To paraphrase Jay Leno: what in the he11 were they thinking?

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