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2009 Dodge Journey

ted laturnus The Globe and Mail

Built in Toluca, Mexico, on the Chrysler Sebring/Dodge Avenger platform, the Dodge Journey debuted in 2009.

It featured two powerplant choices: a 2.4-litre "World Engine" four-cylinder and a 3.5-litre V-6. Power outputs were 173 hp and 235 hp respectively, and the former engine was also used by Mitsubishi and Hyundai. Transmission choices were a four-speed automatic and six-speed automatic with AutoStick manual shift feature.

Buyers could also choose from FWD or AWD, and the all-wheel-drive system featured a front-drive bias. Depending upon conditions, the rear driving wheels come into play as needed – during "performance" highway driving, for example, and, needless to say, when things start to get slippery.

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There were three basic trim levels: SE, SXT, and R/T. Standard equipment level was high, considering the Journey's under-$20,000 base price. Air conditioning, tilt/telescoping steering, power windows, 60/40 folding rear seat, six-speaker stereo system with MP3 capability, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, front, side, side curtain airbags, and Chrysler's patented YES Essentials seat covering that reputedly shuns staining and resists discoloration were all standard issue.

Options included leather interior, power sunroof, second-row DVD and MyGiG entertainment system, adjustable roof racks, 19-inch wheels and tires, and electronic vehicle information centre with a navi system. The SE also came as a Canada-only value package that included heated outside mirrors, a stability control system, and power door locks, among other things.

The Journey also had some intriguing storage and seating configurations. Depending upon which model you chose, you could get second-row seats that tilt forward and fold flat without having to remove the head-rests, third-row seats with a 50/50 folding/reclining feature, and a fold-flat Flip-'n-Stow front-passenger seat. And there were storage nooks and crannies everywhere: a pair under the back floor, under the rear deck, and even under the front seat cushions. Not to mention a chilled beverage compartment above the glove-box, illuminated cup-holders, and a convex "conversation" mirror that allows front-seat passengers to maintain eye-contact with those in the back. The Journey was, and is, a minivan de-constructed and downsized. Total interior volume, with all seats folded flat, was 1,914 litres.

The standard 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine in the Journey is a little on the noisy side, while the V-6, although more refined and the most popular choice, isn't a pavement-burner by any stretch of the imagination. Fill the Journey up with its full complement of seven passengers and fully utilize all the storage room, and you'll have a four-door wagon with acceptable oomph, but not much more.

Five safety recalls are on file with Transport Canada. Two concern possibly defective airbag assemblies, two more are electrical glitches within the powertrain that can render the vehicle immobile or lead to an engine fire, and the last involves possibly improper wiring that can cause the vehicle's electrical system to overheat and, again, lead to a fire. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also has two to add to these, both of which are electrical in nature and affect airbag functions. In short, if you own one of these, you might want to have all airbag systems checked out, if you haven't already done so.

Fourteen technical service bulletins affect this vintage of the Journey. They range from front brake pads aging prematurely, to problems with an "incorrect" PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) valve, to problems with the power door locks, to issues with the software in the powertrain control module (PCM).

Lots of negativity from Consumer Reports on this one. Areas of concern include – well, just about everything, with the exception of the exhaust and cooling systems. As a result, the '09 Journey gets a failing grade from the magazine and a "worse than average" used-car prediction. Things do improve in 2010 and 2011, but the '09 Journey might be one to stay away from. Comments from owners include: "premature brake wear," "cramped rough ride," "a lot of bang for the buck" and "lots of storage areas and cupholders."

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Market research firm J.D. Power, gives the 2009 Journey a below average overall rating, with failing marks in just about every category, with the exception of interior quality.

Depending on the trim level and model, the Journey has dropped significantly in value. From a base price of just under $20,000 for the four-cylinder SE FWD model, it's worth somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000 these days. The V-6 AWD models appear to be selling for substantially more than the base model, fetching up to $20,000 or thereabouts, depending upon equipment level.

Tech specs: 2009 Dodge Journey

Original Base Price: $19,995; Black Book: $14,275-$21,050; Red Book: $9,700-$12,750

Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder/3.5-litre V-6

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Horsepower/Torque: 173 hp/166 lb-ft for four; 235 hp/232 lb-ft for six

Transmission: Four-/six-speed automatic

Drive: Front-/all-wheel

Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 11.0 city/8.0 highway (four-cylinder/four-speed auto); regular gas

Alternatives: Mazda5, Nissan Rogue, Chevrolet Equinox, Kia Rondo, Hyundai Santa Fe

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