Driving the Journey is utterly prosaic, and that's not a negative. The transmission is slightly sluggish but under normal driving conditions passengers will be unaware the crossover is swapping gears. A high driver's seating position aids visibility. Its 128-foot stopping distance from 60 mph is a middle-of-the-road number for its class, but more than adequate.

John and Jane may not fully comprehend how the steering was recalibrated or how the suspension was stiffened, but the Journey's revised innards will be the talk of the post-PTA meetings. The old Journey's subpar materials and button after button on the center stack assaulted driver and passenger. The new model has been significantly improved: The smartly designed gauge cluster with Electronic Vehicle Information Center and vibrant 8.4-inch touch-screen display should more than draw in a few looky-loos. An attractive three-spoke steering wheel, simplified center stack, and softer touch materials are now standard. When you're cooped up on the road during daily schlepping duties, an inviting interior is a godsend.

Second-row seating is on the tight side for full-size adults, the third row even more so -- one of the compromises that come with a smaller crossover. Stow the third row and there's more than ample cargo space for the in-laws' luggage come holiday season (37 cubic feet for the seven-seater to be exact). A bevy of usable storage compartments, hidden and in plain sight, are spread throughout the cabin. Keeping the kiddies safe is of paramount importance, and parents and parents-to-be can sleep soundly knowing their Journey will perform should some unfortunate contact with another vehicle occur.

Versatility may not win the heart of the enthusiast, but it'll earn commendation from those with dollar sense. Now that the Journey has undergone a thorough refreshing, it's about time to let it venture onto our wild roads.

2011 Dodge Journey Crew AWD
Base price $31,690
Price as tested $34,550
Vehicle layout Front engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door crossover
Engine 3.6L/283-hp/260-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Curb weight (f/r dist) 4350 lb (55/45%)
Wheelbase 113.8 in
Length x width x height 192.4 x 83.7 x 66.6 in
0-60 mph 7.5 sec
Quarter mile 15.9 sec @ 87.2 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 128 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.76 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 28.3 sec @ 0.56 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 16/24 mpg
CO2 emissions 1.03 lb/mile