By on July 10, 2020

Image: 2017 Dodge Journey SE, via FCA

By now you’ve heard, been told, or simply noticed that the Dodge lineup for 2021 contains but three models: the Charger, Challenger, and Durango. A trifecta of AARP members, now endowed with as much horsepower as Fiat Chrysler could rustle up from its deep parts bin.

Gone for ’21, but hardly forgotten, is the Grand Caravan, a pioneer of the minivan segment and a stalwart Dodge model seemingly immune to inflation. We knew its demise was coming. Same goes for the other model axed for 2021 — the Dodge Journey — though the discontinuation of this vehicle isn’t nearly as likely to elicit tearful, glowing eulogies at the wake.

Perhaps you’d like to say a few words?

Yours truly had no reason to own or drive a Journey, but a friend and a family member both did. Let’s just say that their ownership experiences wouldn’t provide much in the way of useful fodder for Fiat Chrysler’s marketing team.

A smallish midsize crossover, the Journey, throughout its lifetime, offered buyers decent family and cargo capacity for very little money. In base, front-drive guise, a driver could close his or her eyes and be transported back in time, and not in a good way. Despite soldiering on, almost unchanged, from the 2009 model year to 2020, the vehicle’s DaimlerChrysler-Mitsubishi platform and base 2.4-liter World engine was straight out of the first term of the G.W. Bush administration.

The entry-level four-speed automatic transmission debuted in 1989, back when another Bush occupied the Oval office.

And yet you could pick up a new Journey for a song, something many buyers chose to do. Sales topped the six-figure mark in the U.S. in 2015 and 2016, and last year’s tally was still a respectable 74,686 units. Not bad for a model paid off long ago.

Also last year, a 2015 Journey purchased new by a relative for a jaw-droppingly low price was already showing its age. Rust arrived at the party unfashionably early, and your author could have poked his finger through its corroded, leaking oil pan, had he chosen to do so. Thankfully, that vehicle is no longer in the person’s possession.

Another base Journey entered my friend’s driveway some time ago, though the Magic of Journey meant that this friend soon traded it in for an uplevel 3.6-liter model for a lower monthly payment. One day, after his son went to retrieve a hat from the front seat, a not-too-harshly-slammed door caused the rear window to explode. It’s still in his possession, as the Pentastar engine has more things going for it than the vehicle itself.

It also paid itself off pretty damn quickly.

While the Journey might stage a reappearance in the near future, possibly underpinned by a platform sourced from some sporty Italians, the unchanging model we’ve come to accept as part of the automotive landscape is due to depart. So, as we gather today to remember our brother, the Journey, is there anyone here who would like to speak about its time spent with us? Any stories you’d like to share?

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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43 Comments on “QOTD: Many Happy Journeys?...”


  • avatar
    threeer

    As the former owner of a 2016 Grand Caravan, I’m sadder to see it go than the Journey. Our golden box on wheels might not have been sexy, but it was probably the most useful vehicle I have ever owned. Three people, two dogs and all of the vast gear needed to participate in showing dogs and the GC swallowed it without issue every time…

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The Caravan isn’t really going away it is just becoming the Chrysler, not a Plymouth, Voyager. Because of the CDJR all under one roof concept you won’t even have to go to a different dealer.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    They weren’t very exciting, but you got a lot for your money

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I got a loaded orange Journey with some sort of sport package as a rental while my Alfa Giulia was being processed for a lemon law buyback after leaving me and my son stranded 3 hours from home. Let’s just say it cemented my lack of desire to look for another FCA product as my replacement vehicle. I still miss that Alfa, though.

  • avatar
    Randall CArlisle

    I want to be a “mopar” guy, but they just don’t have anything useful or reasonably priced for my uses. Sure I’d love a Challenger, but I just feel they are overpriced. Even a V6 version would work for me but they are too hard to find. I have looked for Chargers and Challengers, but just nothing there for a price I would spend on a used car. That might be ME instead of the actual market. I had a Chrysler T&C – loved it for that parenthood period. Very useful. Shame that folks shun the mini van – what great vehicles they were. Did Dodge have any other models recently?

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I recall that I tested one, I believe the first year they were introduced. The fond memories I have include the jagged edge of the headliner that didn’t quite reach the windshield to be neatly tucked away and something horribly awry where the A pillar, front quarter panel and hood all came together, or…… attempted to come together. I ran and never looked back.

    I think cheap vehicles have a place in the market when done correctly but sometimes they also can put a cloud over the brand. The Journey was certainly better with later refreshes to interior and exterior, but it was never more than a last resort of sorts. Long overdue for the dirt nap in my opinion.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I remember when Caravan had a Manual Transmission.

    Save the manuals

    • 0 avatar
      MeJ

      @slav
      “Save the manuals”…
      The future isn’t waiting for any of us.
      Adapt or perish.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Yeah and you could even get it with the Turbo engine in a couple of years. I did a clutch on one many years ago and was quite shocked to find that they actually built such a combo let alone find a buyer for it, it was a nice one too, not a strippo.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I drove a 2009 Journey (V6, FWD) on a trip from Gallup to Phoenix. It was a vehicle from the motor pool. It was about 3 years old and had about 30,000 miles on it at the time.

    Decent power, the transmission was fine, the interior plastic was rock hard but showed little to no wear. Honestly good for schlepping your kids around and I considered trying to make a deal on a loaded model back in 2014 when my daughter was born. However the local FCA dealer had a reputation as such that I wasn’t sure I even wanted to be going to them for warranty work.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Not only is the interior plastic hard, the two I rode in the seats were reminiscent of a granite pool table. It is the only car my butt has fallen asleep in and it only took 10 minutes.

    I am a big Mopar fan and there is no way I would have a Journey in my possession any longer than it took to sell one given to me along with a fair amount of cash.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    I was in a Journey once via Lyft and I couldn’t believe how loud and shrill it was. I wanted to ask the driver about it but didn’t want to sound like a twatt if the Journey was something she enjoyed driving.

    I can still distinctly remember a great commercial for the Journey back when they first where introduced. It was a nice looking family, sporty, bright white smiles you know the drill, all in a pretty decked out Journey will all the trim pieces and roof racks. For at least a few hours I thought “Hmmm not too bad I might like one of those someday.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I would say that this is another example of short sighted incompetent management from FCA.

    How difficult and/or expensive would it be to improve the materials, build quality and reliability of this vehicle, during its lifetime? As stated it sells in reasonable numbers, the development costs are long since paid for. So spend some money on better parts, raise the price slightly, improve the warranty and sell even more. Probably at a larger margin per vehicle. What do people cross shop with a Journey? In my neighbourhood we have a large number of retirees and the Journey seems to be their favourite vehicle. Easy entry/egress, high ride height, not too big or too small and inexpensive.

    As for the Caravan, that is another market that FCA had to itself. Any other minivan that I have priced is more than 26% higher priced than a Caravan. The driveline is no longer a joke and instead is a strong point. Development costs are also long since paid off. Again invest in some better parts, offer an outstanding warranty and watch sales increase.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      @Arthur Dailey

      I had similar sentiments when Ford announced discontinuation of the Panther platform. I wondered why Ford would abandon the fleet, livery, taxi, and police cruiser business that Panther owned? I was certain that the Ford product planners had lost their minds!

      Turns out that I was, as usual, making assumptions based on incomplete information. Market conditions are not what killed Panther, it was the platform’s inability to comply with upcoming new side impact/crashworthiness standards, and the fact that the BOF platform could not be sufficiently strengthened without a full redesign. Production capacity also needed to be devoted to CUV production.

      I am fairly certain that FCA execs are a good bit better informed about market conditions AND upcoming regulations than we are. Their decisions have been influenced by factors outsiders are not privy to.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        By the time the Panther was retired it was a 31 year old design. Engineered back during the height of the Malaise Era.

        The Caravan/Journey platform in comparison is a dozen years old.

        The facilities manufacturing Panthers were needed to accommodate production of other vehicles. FCA has not announced any new production for any of their Ontario facilities, all of which are well below capacity.

        As for giving auto executives ‘the benefit of the doubt’ I am well beyond that. So many of them have exhibited incompetence so often.

        • 0 avatar
          R Henry

          Shortly after my marriage in 1993, my then-new wife disabused me of the notion I knew everything.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Yes, my wife has let me know that ‘I do not know anything’. So I need to spout off on on-line forums about topics in which she has no interest.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “Yes, my wife has let me know that ‘I do not know anything’

            Arthur, the next time your wife says that just remind her that you know how to pick a great wife. She’ll reward you with your favorite dinner :)

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          No the Panther was not a 31 year old design when it retired, the Chassis had 4 distinct generations.

          79-91
          92-97
          98-02
          03-12

          Yes there were 2012 Crown Vics, just not sold in the US, because they didn’t have stability control as required by law for 2012 passenger vehicles.

          It was killed because demand was falling, the facility and tooling was worn out, and they didn’t expect to get a return on the effort needed to implement and calibrate a stability control system to meet 2012 standards.

          It had nothing to do with needing capacity for other vehicles. The plant was almost immediately put up for sale and after a lack of takers they demolished the plant to make it more attractive to buyers.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Scoutdude, Thanks and you are partially correct as I believe that there were actually 3 generations. As per the notes posted below. Please feel free to add further information if I am incorrect. There was very little difference between generations 1 and 2. Gen 3 was an upgrade, but why could FCA not provide a minor and inexpensive upgrade in order to retain their dominance of an albeit diminishing market.

            First generation (1979–1991): The initial versions; the only versions produced in bodystyles other than a four-door sedan. The only generation to use the Windsor V8 engine
            Second generation (1990–2002): Extensive redesigns of exterior and interior; introduction of Modular V8 engine. Underneath the sheetmetal, a Watt’s linkage was added to the rear suspension (still a live rear axle) in an effort to improve handling
            Third generation (2003–2012): Frame and suspension redesigns and upgrades to improve handling. 2011 was the last model year for the North American Market and for Lincoln-Mercury models. A limited number of 2012 Crown Victorias were built for the police and overseas market. For 2003, Ford Chassis Engineer Trever Skilnick completely redesigned the frame of the Panther platform using a hydroformed steel frame and a bolt-in cast aluminum stressed member that held the powertrain. The front and rear suspension were also completely overhauled in an effort to improve handling; rack and pinion steering replaced the recirculating-ball design.

    • 0 avatar
      forward_look

      I can’t get my wife to shop for a replacement for her Caliber, the Journey forerunner. It drives like a rowboat with a 10 HP outboard on Lake St. Clair with 2 foot chop, noisy and wallowing. But it’s easy to get into. Winter hasn’t killed it yet and things have worn out but nothing has broken. An eighth of a century old, but has all the technology she needs.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        I’ve never boated on Lake St. Clair, but I have rented a Caliber, and I’m prepared to believe that’s an accurate statement. Still, I’m kind of sad to see Dodge get out of the lot-of-car-for-a-little-money business, not a lot of players in that segment these days.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      @Arthur – although the new Chrysler Voyager (cheap Pacifica) was supposed to be fleet only I did recently see one on the highway with no identifying marks to indicate that it was a rental.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Have not seen a Voyagers. They are not yet available in Canada. And auto ‘journalists’ expect them to retail for about $30k which is a $5k markup over the current Caravan MSRP.

        Leasing a Caravan in Ontario appears to be a ‘no go’. If you can find a dealer willing to do so, their interest rate is so high, and the residual value so low, that it is a financial dead end.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        No the Voyager was not supposed to be fleet only, the top trim of it is, or at least was rental fleet only, with lesser models available for retail.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The Caravan isn’t really going away it is just changing its name to Voyager and will sit under the Chrysler banner in the show room instead of the Dodge banner. It should have died years ago, yeah the tooling is paid for but it is also very worn. Meanwhile they still need to pay for the retooling of its replacement and that has been hampered by the old van which due to its lower price was the choice of rental fleets the big buyers of Chrysler minivans.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @Scoutdude: Isn’t the Voyager a decontented Pacifica, not as you posted a renamed Caravan.

        And why would FCA have to now pay for retooling on the Pacifica?

        As for the rental fleets, FCA is not ‘forced’ to sell to them. That is a negotiated agreement. Without the cheaper Caravan alternative what is to stop the fleets from replacing them with Sedonas, or Siennas?

  • avatar
    JMII

    Splitting RAM from Dodge was a mistake. Dodge sells 3 vehicles. RAM sells 3. Guess having 6 choices on one lot was too confusing for customers?

    • 0 avatar
      cardave5150

      There are many more than 6 vehicles on that lot, as virtually all FCA dealers are Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge/Ram. That’s how they can continue on with 2 Chrysler vehicles, 3 Dodges, 3 Rams and a boatload of Jeeps. All on one lot.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I’ve often argued that part of GMs problem was NOT having all the marques under one roof. With all the marques in one dealer there would not have been a need to have a “cheap” Buick (go get a Chevy) or cheap Pontiacs (go get a Chevy…) or loaded up luxury at Chevy – go get a Buick or an Oldsmobile.

        But yes dealers are surviving on being Chrysler, RAM, JEEP, and Dodge at the same time.

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          Around me there are a few stand alone RAM / Jeep dealers. Guess those places have just given up on Dodge and Chrysler already which is why I too forgot about them.

          With only 2 vehicles Chrysler can’t survive much longer can it?

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          “I’ve often argued that part of GMs problem was NOT having all the marques under one roof.”

          Where I am there’s a Buick/Cadillac/GMC/Chevy dealer all under one roof and it’s a pretty small roof at that

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            That’s rare.

            As GM organized divisions into groups (like having Buick, Pontiac, GMC dealers as GMs preference pre-bankruptcy) they sometimes forced dealers in competing geographic areas to change brands to suit what GM wanted to see.

            When I moved to Gallup in 2002 the local Chevy dealer signage was Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Cadillac. Oldsmobile signage eventually came down and during the bankruptcy GM took away the Cadillac franchise.

            The cross town dealer was Buick, GMC, Oldsmobile until the Olds franchise was transferred to the rival Chevy dealer and Pontiac was given to the Buick dealer as compensation.

  • avatar
    Sobro

    I rented a Journey for 24 hours once. It was 23 hours and 59 minutes too long. The hateful thing was requested by my wife who thought she could see out of it better than the alternative. She ended up not driving it at all and her appointment met us instead. I swear that car ran on NVH instead of gasoline.

    My only regret is that FCA didn’t Hellcat the Caravan and Journey for their swansongs.

  • avatar
    Steve203

    Hardly a surprise. When the Journey’s powertrain choices wee culled down to the 4 banger and 4 speed trans, and FCA announced layoffs at the trans plant because they were dropping the trans, the end was obviously here.

    I have never believed the chatter about a Stelvio based Journey. fwiw, I don’t believe the chatter about a Giulia based Charger either.

    Now that they have officially stuck a fork in the Journey, lets see if they follow the Steve Plan:

    -replace the current, non-grand Cherokee with the Commander and Grand Commander: fresh styling and upgraded interior with the two row Commander replacing the non-grand Cherokee and the 3 row Grand Commander replacing the Journey.

    -with production capacity at Toluca freed up by replacing the Journey with the Belvidere built Grand Commander, drop the Italian built Renegade, because Toluca will be able to build enough Compasses to replace all the Renegades sold in North America, along with filling existing Compass demand.

    -with the non-grand Cherokee name freed up by it’s replacement by the Commander, the replacement for the current 2 row Grand Cherokee can be simply the Cherokee, while the new 3 row that is supposed to be built at Mack Ave will be the Grand Cherokee, which will replace the current Durango.

    And there you have the Steve plan to make all FCA SUVs Jeeps.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      But no replacement in Windsor for the discontinued Caravan. Unless Voyager and Pacifica assembly steps up.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve203

        >>But no replacement in Windsor for the discontinued Caravan. Unless Voyager and Pacifica assembly steps up.<<

        That is what I expect, the stripped Voyager being the replacement for the Caravan. Actually, by eliminating the Caravan, they reduce the number of parts they need to source, and increase production volume of the Pacifica parts. They also eliminate the cost of switching the line over between two different platforms.

        The accepted wisdom has been that the Caravan and Journey were highly profitable, even selling at low prices, because the tooling had been amortized. I wonder if the complication created in their supply chain and production by having these two models offset part of that supposed cost advantage and if the low price was as much a function of having to discount them to get people to buy cars that were so obsolete.

  • avatar
    downunder

    We had the FIAT variant, 7 Seats, tri zone climate control. 6 speed 2.4. The best aspects? The family-friendly interior, storage space, booster seats easy exit and entry. The worst aspects, FCA/Dealers. Ultimately sold it. Why? No flair just wasn’t singing for me anymore. I would still recommend one to anybody who carts around a lot of kids.
    Bought a HAVAL H9…………

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