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2014 Best Cheap SUVs

Dodge Journey

Often overlooked, this midsize crossover is a way to combine two uncommon features for under $30,000: seven-passenger seating and a V-6 engine. Journey is styled a bit like a station wagon and a rather plain one at that. But credit Dodge with a model-year 2014 upgrade to the interior marked by liberal use of soft-touch materials and a handsomely revamped dashboard. Four-cylinder Journeys are underpowered and come only with front-wheel drive and a retrograde four-speed automatic transmission. We recommend a midline SXT model. Starting at $27,690 with AWD, it has Chrysler’s smooth 283-horsepower V-6 and a modern six-speed automatic. The 50/50 split-folding third-row bench is part of the $1,300 Flexible Seating Group, which thoughtfully includes rear air conditioning and heating and an easy-to-use flip-and-slide second-row entry feature. Now you’re at $28,990 and still have room for the $995 Quick Order Package 28C, which adds a power driver’s seat, Bluetooth connectivity, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and an 8.4-inch dashboard infotainment display. An SXT AWD Journey’s road manners are more pleasant than exciting. The available third-row seat is kid-sized but handy nonetheless. And with the V-6, you’ll never want for power, though its 19-mpg city/highway combined EPA rating is nothing special.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]