Appalachian Adventures


We love road trips and anytime we can get out of the office, get behind the wheel and hit the highways and byways of our beautiful country is a bonus. Recently my wife and I had the opportunity to put a 2011 Dodge Journey Mainstreet through its paces. We packed our bags and grabbed our 12-year old cat ‘Elizabeth’ and headed from our home base in Detroit to the scenic Appalachian Mountains to visit “Kin Folk”. We logged over 1600 miles on the Journey during our four day romp through the majestic hills and valleys of Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina.



Our weekend road trip had us heading south through Ohio and Kentucky and eventually into the mountains. We had all the creature comforts of home as the all-new refined interior was nicely equipped and made our nine-hour driving stints very pleasurable and relaxing. Even though there were only the two of us and a cat, some of us pack for our ‘moods’ and always bring more clothes and ‘stuff’ than we really need. We’re glad the Journey’s generous cabin space provided ample room for all our gear. The numerous storage bins came in handy for our munchies and sodas consumed during the trip. We dropped the third row seats and made a pet sanctuary for Elizabeth to stretch out her paws. She claimed this part of the interior as her own domain and was vocal about it.



Our Dodge Journey was well equipped and had the award winning 3.6L DOHC Variable Valve Timing (VVT) Pentastar® V6 under the hood. The little dynamo packed 283 hp and 260 lb-ft torque, enough grunt to easily handle the mountains while averaging almost 28 mpg. The six-speed automatic inherently knew exactly when to downshift when heading up the steep grades along our route. The standard four-wheel disc brakes reassured us that we wouldn’t need to use the semi-truck emergency run-off ramps when coming down the other side of the mountains.



As on any road trip, tunes are important and the Journey’s SIRUIS Satellite Radio® provided us a wide variety of music from Beethoven to ZZ Top. The I-Pod spent most of the time in the glove box as we surfed the hundreds of channels. My wife and I have similar but different tastes in music so I convinced her we needed to listen to Willie’s Roadhouse on channel 56. The old school country tunes of George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and Merle Haggard would be appropriate while driving “down yonder in the holler” and seeing the coal trains lumbering down the tracks.



When we entered Tennessee, the panoramic view of the Cumberland Gap greeted us. We wondered what the earlier European settlers must have thought went they first laid eyes on the stunning lush green landscape. Along the way, we stopped at every opportunity to enjoy the views and read all the historical markers.  While riding shotgun, I was constantly peering into barns and sheds looking for abandoned musclecars that may have been used by moonshiners back in the day.



The ride to Virginia is always a scenic one, but can sometimes be treacherous. With the more than capable 2011 Dodge Journey, we found our way with no problem.




  • Jay Pi
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Hopefully your 2011 is better than the 2008. We just turned it in when we had it towed to the dealership for the 3rd time!  We were stranded somewhere very close to this location because the transmission blew… this makes the 3rd AWD transmission rebuild in 28,000 miles.

  • JOHN
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Permalink


  • Andrew F
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    US-28 in North Carolina. Maybe a twisty road and all but is very scenic. Be sure to swing by the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in Bryson City, NC! Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina is the place to be!

  • Mark
    Posted June 1, 2011 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    I just read an added insert from AUTOWEEK about Dodge. I do believe that the organization is really trying & headed in the right direction this time. Quality of late 2011 & beyond should be sooo much better with the current changes. I just hope Dodge realizes that it should try to help (discount, etc) current OWNERS of older Dodge, RAM, Jeep & Chrysler vehicles when they want to upgrade….just to save face & show some care.

  • 440
    Posted June 1, 2011 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    @Jay Pi,

    My sister has a 08 Journey a.w.d with the 3.5,so far just over 70,000 miles and no problems.
    Guess you got one of the lemons,guess your Dodge has the reliability of a Honda ! Honda’s are complete garbage they are the worlds number 1 company for bad transmissions and timingbelts !! Not even going to mention how bad Toyota is,everyone should know by the amount of serious recalls they have had recently.


  • Jay Pi
    Posted June 1, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink


    Spoken like someone from Detroit! I can respect that. Surely your sister knows of the 2 recalls. But she may not know of the pending class action lawsuit brewing on the Journey! I know of 2 personal friends of mine that had similar issues so I know it’s not isolated. Guess you sis got lucky!

  • keith walker
    Posted June 27, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    I have a Dodge Journey 2009 with 77,000 miles on it.  The last few days I have been having problems with it starting.  I tested the Altanator and its good, any ideas what could be the problem?  Could it be the battery or the battery inside the key?

    Posted June 27, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Keith, we had a 2002 minivan where the instrument panel would go out and then it wouldn’t start when the battery connections got corroded.  After I would clean the terminals and put those felt colored rings around the battery terminals, it would run fine with no problems.  The electronics are really sensitive to battery voltage. I would try this first since it is a cheap and easy fix.  It could be something else which you can go to Autozone and they will test it for free.  They have one of those diagnostic code meters that plugs into the dash.

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