Jude Morte / Jude Morte | October 02, 2008 00:00
Journey to family SUV fulfillmentVery few vehicles fit most families' requirements for solid, dependable, child-friendly transport. The last requirement is a big consideration, given that even on a short trip kids can become restless and their offspring's needs (or even themselves) can become bigger as the years pass (which can be a potential loading problem). Also, the vehicle must meet the entertainment standards of today's parents and children, otherwise the ever-present problem of restlessness will pop up.
With that in mind, Dodge (via its official Philippine distributor CATS Motors, Inc.) saw fit to establish a firm foothold in all facets of the SUV arena - particularly the increasingly popular crossover segment – and recently unveiled the Dodge Journey with much fanfare at the Chrysler Makati showroom along the Chino Roces Avenue Extension in Makati City.
The Journey represents a trip through the different lessons learned by the Dodge brand in the SUV segment, and hopes to land more than a lion's share of the aforementioned arena, if not the crossover SUV market and the Filipino family's heart. Sharing a modified platform with the 2008 Dodge Avenger (US market-only) sedan, the Journey resembles its Chrysler Pacifica cousin slapped with the familiar Dodge crosshair chrome grille and front fascia. The beltline is more angled in front but less towards the rear, mimicking the top of the tailights' curvature. This makes rear occupant lateral glass vision easier, great for the vertically challenged. Rearward, a d-pillar reinforcement spanning the entire vehicle's height envelops third row occupants in a safety cocoon and reduces NVH (noise, vibration, harshness).
Inside is pure utility, with comfort and convenience in huge doses. The rear doors open 90 degrees, allowing for easy ingress, egress, and access to the third row. The second-row benches (with integrated child booster/presenter seats) adjust fore and aft, allowing you to move infants and toddlers closer to first row-seated mom and dad. What's more, older children should be able to seat themselves in the third row without help. A simple yank on a sturdy lever activates the tilt-and-slide mechanism for the second-row seats and requires little upper-body strength. The rearmost bench folds flat into the floor in 50/50 partitions, as does the second row, albeit in 60/40 sections. Although the Journey doesn't come with a power-operated hatch, the gate itself is composite rather than steel, relatively lightweight and easy to pull shut.
Dodge imported features from its minivans for further family (or occupant) expediency. In-floor storage bins in the second row can be used to stash some snacks or beverages, capable of holding a dozen 12-ounce softdrink cans. Removable plastic liners are there for ice storage, similar to cooler usage. There's a hideaway compartment under the front passenger seat cushion (billed as Flip 'n Stow) and a self-cooling glovebox (labeled "The Chill Zone"). Stadium seating gives all passengers the ability to see outside the vehicle, especially helpful for keeping kids entertained. An interface for external MP3 players (such as iPods) is available via a UCI connector in the glovebox, and the audio inputs from the connected MP3 player can be controlled via the head unit (Chrysler's MyGIG multimedia entertainment system) and steering wheel aural switches. Lastly, a Bluetooth-ready uconnect phone feature integrated into the head unit allows for hands-free wireless communication.
Then there's the driving experience. A Chrysler LH 2.7L DOHC 24-valve V6 (with 185 hp and 256 NM of torque) finds itself within the spacious engine bay, and coupled with a six speed a/t (with manual mode) for quicker standing start acceleration. Small steps between gears reduce NVH due to minimum engine speed noise. A standard tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel makes it easy to find a good driving position. And the Journey is full of safety equipment, ranging from a reverse gear-activated camera, side curtain airbags (for all rows), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, brake assist, and electronic stability and rollover control.
In a country where the family is central to daily life, the P 2.28 million Dodge Journey presents itself as the perfect transport for a trip to SUV contentment. Much like its namesake American rock band, it has the potential to Go Anyway You Want It (save for moving sideways) and can serve the Filipino family Faithfully with Open Arms.