I've always liked the Dodge Journey, but its subpar interior -- particularly in the dashboard and switchgear -- was a huge weakness. Now that the Journey has been heavily revised for 2011, its cabin is no longer a place that I'd be embarrassed to show friends. I was particularly fond of our top-of-the-line Lux model's attractive light brown leather upholstery. The Journey's seven-passenger capability is useful, and I can actually fit in the third row with decent headroom (granted I'm only five-foot-six, and climbing back there is tricky). The back row is low to the floor, though, so your knees are up in your chin, but that's to be expected from the third rows of most crossovers. That the Journey can make hospitable accommodations from a relatively small footprint is fairly impressive. The second row, however, is lacking in the headroom department; I didn't hit my head, but there wasn't a lot of extra room up there. Integrated second-row booster seats -- like the ones Volvo has -- are nice for older kids, but I had a hard time locking the cushion back into its "adult" position; you have to push down pretty hard.
The Journey's steering is very light and overboosted, although the steering itself is quick. The Journey is not a very sporty vehicle, but it's more fun to drive than most minivans. Speaking of minivans, though, the front-wheel-drive, six-cylinder Journey's EPA fuel-mileage rating is 17/25 mpg city/highway, the exact same as a Dodge Grand Caravan with the same engine and a couple ticks below the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna. Pricing is very similar to the more spacious Caravan, too, but the Journey buyer does have the important (to some) option of adding all-wheel drive.
The new infotainment system is good, I will agree, but why are the heated-seat controls buried in the infotainment system? I, too, found the powertrain lacking in some refinement. The transmission isn't particularly smooth under normal part-throttle acceleration.
Nonetheless, I still like the Journey overall.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor