It’s safe to say that the three-row crossover has become the vehicle of choice for soccer moms and semi adventurous dads everywhere. The Dodge Durango hits a sweet spot between crossovers and SUV, it’s a rare SUV that has carlike ride and handling but its rear-wheel-drive platform thanks to Jeep Grand Cherokee underpinnings gives it real credibility as a workhorse, whether you’re towing things or heading off-road. The aggressive styling and brawny V8 make it stand apart from its competitors, while the abundant passenger space and numerous features keep the kids distracted “ehem” happy during errand runs or lengthy road trips.
Durango is one of the better-looking three-row SUVs on the market. A bit more traditional with a hint of the modern sculpting setting it apart in a sea of swoopy and soft crossovers. It has a classic SUV stance with a bold style that exudes a feeling of refined power and muscle. The oversized large front grille is more than a styling statement, the opening feeds the optional V8 engine with the oxygen needed to generate the SUV’s 360 horsepower. The Durango’s hood, with its symmetrical creases, is reminiscent of muscle cars of yesteryear that made the brand and its Hemi engines iconic. The large LED racetrack tail-lamp and LED daytime headlamps finish off the Durango’s good looks.
The Dodge Durango is available in four trim levels: SXT, Limited, Citadel and R/T. The Durango comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags. Options include virtually every modern safety feature, including a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision warning, automatic pre-collision braking, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control. Seven-passenger seating is standard on all, while second-row captain’s chairs that reduce capacity to six are optional on all trims. The Durango also offers a choice between rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive (AWD), depending on the model. The AWD option includes a low-range transfer case for improved off-road performance and a neutral position that more easily allows for flat-towing.
Although the most basic Durango can be a bit blah, moving up to higher trim levels or opting for one of several appearance packages allows it to stand apart from the Honda Pilots and Toyota Highlanders of this world. We recommend the Limited, it’s worth the price premium over the rather basic SXT model. A pair of strong engines are available: the standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 making 290 horsepower (or 295 hp) and 260 pound-feet, and a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 making 360 hp and 390 lb-ft.
Of course, the Durango isn’t perfect. Its main problem is a thirsty V8, an issue that remaind even after Dodge replaced the SUV’s 5-speed automatic with the excellent 8-speed automatic transmission that’s used in the Jeep Grand Cherokee and other Chrysler products. It’s controlled by a rotary shifter like the one used in the Ram 1500 and Chrysler 200, as well as paddle-shifters for all models.
If you choose the V8 model, not only can you smoke-’em-off-the-line but should you need to tow something the Durango has you covered. Even the V6-powered model can lug around much heavier trailers than its competitors can.
While we really love the V8 in all of its thundering glory, It’s hard for us to recommend a vehicle with fuel economy of 14 mpg city/22 mpg hwy, we’d have to go with the far more efficient V6. Its 8-speed automatic transmission makes it feel even faster than before, and new start/stop technology which smartly shuts down the engine when you’re waiting at a stoplight, restarting the engine when you lift off the brake should further increases efficiency.
The Durango will not break the bank, the 2016 Durando Limited will cost you under $30K depending on mileage and condition. The Durango could prove to be an appealing alternative to even bigger, heavier and thirstier full-size, truck-based SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford Expedition for those who need more capability than the typical crossover. Either way, we recommend you at least consider the Durango.