The Journey's overall design and interior have been improved over those siblings from substandard to standard, maybe even to "kind of nice." The hard plastic that forms the top of the dashboard isn't overly shiny. And there's some soft padding on the center of the dash and above the door panel armrests. The R/T has tastefully thin horizontal chrome strips in the door panels and one across the dash in front of the passenger; the SXT eliminates the dashboard chrome and the SE has no chrome on the doors or dash. None, happy to report, has plastic woodgrain. But the R/T's nicely designed center stack, with thin chrome accents surrounding HVAC and audio control panels, gives way to a less-successful brushed-chrome-look plastic on the SXT and SE.

The dash is raked for the feeling of roominess, and the gearshift base also is raked so that you push the lever downward as you shift from drive to park. Chrysler president Jim Press, fresh in from Toyota, ordered some last-minute changes, including adding the R/T's exclusive instrument panel's shroud to the SXT and SE. Heated seats are available in YES Essentials cloth as well as leather. Noise, vibration, and harshness characteristics are good; wind and road noise are perhaps a bit better than average for this segment, although the SE four-banger's idle is rougher than most modern four-cylinder engines.

The V-6 is harsh under full-throttle acceleration, but otherwise is a decent engine for this vehicle, offering enough power to launch you and a few passengers onto freeways with no worries. Can't vouch for it under a full load of cargo or towing a small trailer. Towing capacity is typical for this segment at 3500 pounds. There was little opportunity to wring out the chassis and suspension on the intro ride, though the Journey suffered no excessive body roll on the turns and the ride is comfortable and controlled. Expect moderate, predictable understeer.

Steering is nothing to write home about. It feels artificially heavy and imprecise, requiring many tiny corrections. There's some torque steer in FWD V-6 models; not so for the FWD I-4 SE, which makes all kinds of noise trying to get out of its own way and little of that noise transmitted as power to the front wheels.