Home Automotive AdviceCar Problems and Reliability Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car – Is This SUV Worth It?

Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car – Is This SUV Worth It?

by Jordan Harris
Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car

When it comes to making vehicles, a handful of companies have more experience than Dodge. The Detroit-based automaker has been in the business for over a century and has created a whole host of vehicles. The Journey is one of the most popular SUVs made by Dodge. But, is the Dodge Journey a good car? After finishing this article, you’ll know the exact answer.

Throughout its long history, Dodge has put out hundreds of different vehicle models. These include sedans, coupes, and even pickup trucks. However, some of the best-selling Dodge models in recent years have always been SUVs. For many years, the Dodge Journey was at the forefront of the brand’s SUV offerings.

Although the Journey is no longer in production, pre-owned ones can be had for a bargain price in the used market. Yet, it is important that you know all about this SUV before making a purchase decision. Here, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about this capable American SUV. Let’s start off by taking a look at the history of the Dodge Journey.

Dodge Journey

First up, we thought about discussing the history of the Dodge Journey with you. This will help you decide whether the Dodge Journey is a good car.

This mid-size crossover SUV made its world premiere at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show. However, it took 2 more years for the Journey to make its way to the winding American roads.

1. Early Years

The Dodge Journey started its “journey” in 2009. This was Chrysler’s first entry into the car-based SUV market. The Journey was based on what the manufacturer called the Dodge Global D platform. Underneath, it was a stretched version of the Global C platform, which formed the basis for sedans like the Chrysler Sebring as well as the Dodge Avenger.

Though initially designed to be a five-person SUV, the Journey has the seating capacity for seven people when desired. But, we should mention that the third row is optional and only suited for small children. The interior of this crossover SUV came packed with features including a rear DVD system for entertainment, a CD changer with the capacity for six discs, and a chill zone to keep your drinks cold on hot summer days.

The Journey was ahead of the competition in terms of practicality as well. There were storage areas placed throughout the cabin, even including a bin beneath the front passenger seat. Additionally, the front passenger seat came with a fold-flat feature too. This gave owners the capability of transporting objects up to nine feet long.

Dodge offered the owners the choice of two powertrains. The base model came with a 173 horsepower four-cylinder, while all other trim levels came with a 3.5 liter V6. This engine was good for 235 horsepower and could tow up to 3500 pounds. However, in terms of fuel economy, the four-cylinder had the upper hand. It was rated to get 19 MPG in the city and 25 out on the highway, compared to the 15 in the city and 22 on highway rating of the range-topping V6 AWD (all-wheel drive) model.

2. 2011 Facelift And The Crossroad Model

3 years after initially entering the market, the Dodge Journey received a mild facelift. In front of the vehicle received the most updates, including an updated front grille and a new lower front facia. On top of that, the Journey received a restyled interior as well. In terms of mechanics, the steering powertrain and the suspension all got refreshed as well.

The 3.5 V6 engine was replaced with a new 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. Dodge added their new logo to the vehicle, while simultaneously adding LED taillights to the higher trim level models. 2014 saw another change to the Journey lineup with the addition of the Crossroad model.

The Journey Crossroad had several distinct changes when compared to the regular model.

Smoked headlights and taillights, a unique design at the front and the rear, roof rails, a larger bumper, and new 19-inch wheels were among the most significant differences.

The Crossroad came standard with several top-of-the-line features. All-wheel drive, a remote starter, heated front seats, a leather interior, and a power sunroof are some of them. However, all of these options can be had with the SXT Plus package as well.

The safety of the Dodge Journey was improved with this generation as well. In 2012, this all-American SUV received a four-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Moreover, the SUV obtained two five-star ratings in the driver-side and frontal driver impact tests.

3. Final Years

In 2018, the trim levels of the Journey got a slight revision. The SE, Crossroad, and GT trims remained, while the SXT trim level got the axe. The two engine options were the 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 173 horsepower, and the Pentastar V6 with 283 horses. The V6 was paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission, while a 4-speed automatic was offered with the four-cylinder.

The SE was now the base trim level. Yet, the number of standard features was increased. When compared with previous years, the exterior of the new SE had a sportier appearance. The front and rear were made sportier and new fog lights and LED taillights were also added to the exterior.

Inside, the SE has an updated climate control system, power folding seats, and heated side mirrors. Moreover, customers now had the option to add the Blacktop appearance package to the SE trim as well. 2020 was the final model of this beloved crossover SUV. Dodge decided to discontinue the model as it was now taking on a more performance-oriented image.

Now you know all about the history of the Dodge Journey SUV. For most buyers, efficiency is another important factor when it comes to buying a new vehicle. Generally, an efficient vehicle will save you the money that you’ll otherwise have to spend on filling it up. Are you curious to know about the efficiency and gas mileage of the Dodge Journey? If so, follow along to the next section.

Dodge Journey Gas Mileage

The gas mileage of Dodge Journey models mostly depends on the engine option you go for. A 2020 Dodge Journey equipped with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and the four-speed automatic transmission is EPA-rated for a combined fuel economy rating of 21 MPG. This version of the Journey gets 19 MPG around the city and 25 MPG on the highway.

Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car

The Dodge Journey comes fitted with a fuel tank that can hold up to 20.5 gallons of fuel. With that, you won’t have to worry about running out of fuel during those long road trips. So, if you were wondering whether the Dodge Journey is a good car with regards to gas mileage, now you have the answer.

Dodge Journey Problems

We can’t answer the question “Is the Dodge Journey a good car” without discussing some of its most common problems. Throughout the years, owners have discovered a few common issues with this crossover SUV. Here are the most widespread ones.

Now, let’s take a closer look at these issues.

Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car, Problems #1. Engine Overheating

Owners of Dodge Journeys made between the years 2009 – 2016 have experienced engine overheating after their vehicles have barely completed 78,000 miles. The temperature light on the dashboard turning on is the first indication of this issue.

Over time, the issue would only get severe. The vehicle may gradually overheat, losing engine power in the process. Moreover, the SUV can develop coolant leaks due to overheating as well. And if the coolant overflow reservoir is overwhelmed, the fluid may spill over to the outside.

The primary thermostat housing’s cylinder head coolant port being blocked by debris has been identified as the most likely cause of Dodge Journey engine overheating problems. A qualified mechanic will fix this issue for you, either by removing the debris or replacing the thermostat housing entirely.

Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car, Problems #2. Transmission Issues

When it comes to the Dodge Journey, the transmission system is another problematic area. However, this issue mostly affects vehicles made during the 2014 model year. The symptoms of this issue include erratic gear shifts, a stiff transmission, and producing clunking sounds when shifting gears.

Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car

So far, no clear reason for these transmission issues has been identified. What’s worse is that this issue usually rears its head around 15,000 miles. However, there have been several transmission-related technical service bulletins (TSBs) released with the hopes of fixing these transmission-related issues.

Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car, Problems #3. Head Gasket Problems

Apart from the above-mentioned transmission problems, the 2014 Dodge Journey is plagued with head gasket problems as well. Around the 100,000-mile mark, the SUV may start to have performance issues. Later down the line, these minor issues may end up damaging or cracking the head gaskets of the engine.

A number of 2014 Dodge Journey owners have experienced catastrophic engine failures due to blown or leaking head gaskets. If you suspect that your vehicle is also a victim, we recommend getting a compression test done. This will help you determine whether there is an actual head gasket issue, saving your engine from getting destroyed.

Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car, Problems #4. Electrical Gremlins

The first model year of the Dodge Journey had a reputation for developing electrical problems. This was due to a few issues in the electronics of the vehicle, including a faulty electrical connector and a faulty wiring system.

The vehicle not starting up or abruptly shutting down while on the road are two of the most common symptoms of electrical system issues. Furthermore, electrical problems are a potential fire hazard as well.

Over the years, Dodge Journey owners have suggested a number of methods to mitigate these electrical issues. Some have suggested replacing the starter motor, while others suggest that a key fob replacement is enough to fix the problem.

Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car, Problems #5. Premature Brake Wear

We can’t talk about Dodge Journey problems without taking a look at the widespread brake wear issue associated with it. 2009 and 2010 are the model years that are most affected by this problem.

Brake wear problems with the Dodge Journey start relatively early into the service life of the vehicle, usually around the 33,000-mile mark.

Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car

On severe occasions, the brakes will have to be replaced at 3-month intervals.

This is an expensive issue to fix, as several components of the braking system including the calipers, discs, pads, and rotors have to be replaced at once. Typically, the parts and labor costs add up to around $400.

Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car, Problems #6. Water Leaks

Dodge Journey SUVs made from 2009 all the way to 2018 are known for letting water enter the passenger compartment. Leaks have been discovered near the windows, in vents, and even in the headliner.

As you might have guessed, interior water leaks lead to an array of problems. On top of drenching the seats and carpets, water leaks can also lead to mold buildup in the interior. If you detect any interior water leaks in your Dodge Journey, the best course of action is to seal up the leaky areas. This will prevent the interior from getting further damaged by water.

Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car, Problems #7. Remote Key Malfunction

Being a modern crossover SUV, the Dodge Journey comes with a remote keyless entry system. This system was designed with ease of use in mind. However, as owners of 2009 – 2017 Dodge Journeys found out, the remote key has a tendency to malfunction frequently.

Remote key malfunction is one of the most widely reported issues with this American crossover. There are several indications of this issue, like a bad key reading or the displaying of a “key not detected” message.

A malfunctioning remote key can lead to a whole host of issues. Some users have been unable to lock or unlock their vehicles, while others couldn’t get their SUVs started. Usually, the remote key malfunction can be fixed by upgrading the wireless ignition node (WIN) software.

Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car, Problems #8. Suspension System Issues

The Dodge Journey, especially those manufactured between 2009 and 2012, has been identified to have problems related to its suspension system. Commonly, drivers report excessive vibration or a “clunking” noise when driving over bumps or uneven surfaces. This can impact the ride quality, making it less smooth and enjoyable.

Tie rods and control arms are often the culprits behind these suspension-related problems. It’s essential to address these issues promptly. Not only for the comfort of the ride but also for the safety aspect. Ignoring these symptoms can lead to more significant problems and more expensive repairs down the line.

Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car, Problems #9. Air Conditioning Issues

Many Dodge Journey owners, particularly from the 2013 model year, have encountered issues with the air conditioning system. Common complaints include the system blowing warm air instead of cold or not working at all. Furthermore, some drivers have noted an unpleasant musty odor when the A/C is on.

Usually, the cause is a faulty condenser or compressor. In some cases, it’s been a refrigerant leak. If your Dodge Journey’s air conditioning isn’t working as it should, it’s advisable to have a mechanic diagnose the problem to ensure you stay cool during those hot summer drives.

Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car, Problems #10. Power Steering Problems

Power steering issues have also been a cause of concern for some Dodge Journey owners. Some drivers have reported a sudden loss of power steering, making it difficult to turn the wheel, especially at low speeds. This could be particularly concerning in tight parking situations or quick maneuvers.

Often, the issue stems from a faulty power steering pump or issues with the steering rack. Addressing these problems early is crucial. Driving without reliable power steering isn’t just a hassle; it’s a potential safety issue.

Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car, Problems #11. Fading Dashboard Displays

Some Dodge Journey drivers have flagged concerns over the vehicle’s dashboard display. There have been reports of the display fading or going blank intermittently. This issue makes it difficult for drivers to monitor vital vehicle information like speed, fuel levels, and other warning lights.

It’s not just an inconvenience; a malfunctioning dashboard can be a serious safety concern, especially during nighttime driving. Often, the problem can be linked to a malfunctioning instrument cluster, which may need replacement or repair.

Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car, Problems #12. Exhaust System Issues

The Dodge Journey, particularly models from the early 2010s, has sometimes been flagged for issues related to the exhaust system. Complaints range from unusual noises to leaks in the system. Such issues can lead to decreased performance and even pose a risk to the vehicle’s occupants if harmful gases enter the cabin.

It’s vital to address any exhaust system concerns promptly. A thorough inspection by a qualified mechanic can determine the exact issue and the best way to address it.

Is The Dodge Journey A Good Car, Problems #13. Fuel Efficiency Concerns

Lastly, some owners have raised concerns regarding the fuel efficiency of their Dodge Journeys. While some degree of variation is expected based on driving habits and conditions, notable decreases in miles per gallon (MPG) should be cause for investigation. Clogged fuel injectors, malfunctioning oxygen sensors, or even tire issues could be the root cause.

Regular maintenance and periodic check-ups can help ensure that the vehicle runs efficiently and any potential problems are addressed before they escalate. While the Dodge Journey offers many positive features, like any vehicle, it has its share of potential issues.

By being aware of common problems and addressing any signs of trouble promptly, owners can ensure their Journeys provide reliable service for years to come. Always remember, that consistent maintenance and regular check-ups with a trusted mechanic are crucial for keeping any vehicle running smoothly and safely.

Dodge Journey Recalls

To combat some of the previously discussed issues, the Journey was recalled by the manufacturer several times. In fact, this mid-size crossover SUV has been recalled a total of 66 times during its production run.

2009, which was the first model year of the Journey, had the most recalls issued for it. This model has been recalled a total of 11 times. The troubled 2014 model years come in second, with 10 recalls.

On the other hand, 2017 was the least recalled model year. It had only 3 recalled issued. In terms of recalls, other reliable model years of the Dodge Journey include 2010 and 2011, with each having 4 recalls.

Dodge Journey Reliability

As with every other vehicle, the reliability of the Dodge Journey varies between model years. In order to answer the question “Is the Dodge Journey a good car?”, it is important for us to take a look at some of the least reliable model years of this vehicle.

According to most gearheads, the two worst model years of the Dodge Journey are,

  • 2009
  • 2010

2009 Dodge Journey

Initially, people were excited when the Dodge Journey first went on sale in 2009. It was seen as a practical, affordable, and economical SUV. But, this excitement dwindled with time as many of the vehicle’s shortcomings started to get noticed.

Although the Journey was marketed as a three-row SUV, the seats were cramped and uncomfortable, which was a disappointment for most owners.

On top of that, the interior was made from low-quality materials when compared to its competitors at the time as well.

The fuel economy of the 2009 Dodge Journey wasn’t that stellar either. Above all, what ranks 2009 as a year to avoid is the sheer number of reliability issues associated with it. Furthermore, most of the issues start to appear around the 30,000-mile mark, with engine issues creeping in at around 60,000 miles.

2010 Dodge Journey

The reputation of the 2010 Dodge Journey is not much better when compared to the model that preceded it. Although the fuel economy was slightly improved, other aspects of the vehicle remained largely the same.

So, if you were thinking about choosing a Dodge Journey as your next family vehicle, we recommend avoiding these two model years. If we only consider 2009 and 2010, the answer to “Is the Dodge Journey a good car?” is a firm and resounding “No”.

Dodge Durango vs Journey

In addition to competition from other SUV manufacturers, the Dodge Journey had to battle it out with a vehicle from its own stable for SUV bragging rights as well. We are of course talking about the Dodge Durango.

As a potential buyer, choosing between these two Dodge SUV models might be difficult for you. Luckily for you, we’re here to help!


Both the Journey and Durango excel in their own unique areas. Let us take a closer look at several aspects that differentiate these two vehicles.

1. Performance

When it comes to performance, the Durango holds the upper hand. It comes with an optional 6.4-liter Hemi engine that puts out a monstrous 495 horsepower. In contrast, the most powerful engine offered with the Journey, the Pentastar V6, is only capable of producing a mere 283 horsepower.

The differences in power also affect the towing capacities of the two SUVs as well. The more powerful Durango is capable of towing a massive 8700 pounds, while the towing capacity of the Journey tops out at 2800 pounds. If you were looking for an SUV with massive amounts of power and an equally impressive towing capacity, you should pick the Durango over the Journey.

2. Fuel Efficiency

Although there is a difference in the performance figures, the fuel efficiency of the two SUVs is quite similar. Both the Journey and the Durango are rated to get around 19 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway, which are decent figures for modern SUVs.

3. Safety

Dodge is a manufacturer with a close eye on passenger and pedestrian safety. Both these SUVs come packed full of safety features. Some of the most impressive safety features include active braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross path detection, and a lane departure warning system.

In Conclusion…

The Dodge Journey is one of the most popular SUVs made by the American manufacturer in its long and illustrious history. Although this mid-size crossover SUV is no longer produced, it remains one of the best vehicles you can purchase in the used car market.

The Journey came with many features that made it a great vehicle for modern families. Some model years, namely 2009 and 2010, had a number of reliability concerns and we recommend avoiding them. Apart from that, other model years of the Dodge Journey are great choices if you are looking to purchase an affordable American SUV as your next family vehicle.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some of the most popular frequently asked questions about whether is the Dodge Journey a good car or not…

What Does SXT Stand For Dodge

SXT is an entry-level trim option offered with most Dodge vehicles, including the Journey. The letters SXT stand for Standard eXTra. Although the SXT is an affordable trim option, it comes with several creature comforts and looks to offer buyers a mix of affordability and comfort.

Is A Dodge Journey A Good Car

The Dodge Journey is an affordable and comfortable family SUV. However, we recommend staying away from models made in 2009 and 2010. We say that because these two models years are the victims of many reliability issues.

Is Dodge Journey A Van

No, the Dodge Journey isn’t a van. It is a mid-size crossover SUV, based on a stretched sedan platform. Being a crossover, the Journey offers a sedan-like dynamic driving experience paired with the practicality and capability of a large SUV.

How Many Seats In A Dodge Journey

The Dodge Journey comes standard with one row of seats in the rear. However, Dodge offers the option of adding a third row of seats for additional practicality. However, most adults have found the third row cramped and uncomfortable. It is mainly designed for child passengers.

Do Dodge Journeys Have 3rd Row Seating

Dodge Journeys come with an optional third row of seats. With the addition of the third row, the total passenger capacity of this SUV increases up to seven.

Are Dodge Journeys Reliable

Throughout the years, a number of reliability issues associated with the Dodge Journey have been identified. Some of the most widespread issues include engine overheating, transmission failure, interior water leaks, and premature brake wear.

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