The crowd who decries SUVs as sinfully unattractive and hard to look at will find a bit of a respite from those beliefs when they check out the Durango.
It’s long, looks strong, and the large grille proudly displaying the Dodge logo has a bit of an attitude about it. You’ll recognize these things on the road, even from a distance.
This vehicle is quite massive, and weighs in about 5,000 pounds, which is both good and bad.
The size is good in the sense that you can fit up to seven people in it comfortably (even in the back row) and storage a large amount of cargo.
It’s bad in the sense that the vehicle is sometimes more difficult to maneuver due to its hefty weight, which impacts the driving experience. The power is there, so speed is not the issue, it’s just a matter of maneuvering such a beast as well as you can.
Materials used inside the Durango are not the most high-end in the segment but are still comfortable.
Here’s the differentiator on the Durango vs. its competition, and it’s one you’ll not be surprised by if you kow Dodge: POWER.
Offered right now on the Durango is a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine, and its 360 horsepower.
I tested the base engine, a still-powerful 3.6 liter V6, (290 horsepower)
And here’s a spoiler: There will be a 475 hp version of the Durango coming out later this year with an even more powerful HEMI, in case 360 hp isn’t enough for you.
All Durangos come with an 8-speed automatic transmission (rotary dial shifter controls it). And as you may have expected, the towing rate is pretty high due to these strong engine options. Towing capacity rates from 6,200 to 7,400 pounds, which is best in class.
AWD is available on the Durango, but RWD is standard.
You’ll sense this power as you are driving, and it’s one of the bits of personality that the Durango, in addition to its comfortable and family-friendly interior, has that will earn it some brownie points among potential buyers who take it on a test drive.
The Durango gets strong marks on the technology front; the UConnect infotainment system worked well as usual (with its 8.4-inch screen and easy-to-use menu, even for people new to the system). And the optional Premium Entertainment Group, with rear DVD entertainment for the kids and TV screens for both sides of the middle, will be a big hit with the kids if you pick up a Durango and get this option. What’s nice about this system is the little ones can watch DVDs and listen to them via headphones, while the adults listen to their own music.
Rear backup camera is standard on all but the base level, but some other safety features are optional (blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, etc.) and it would have been nice to see them included without an extra fee. Safety scores are overall very strong (four stars), but the weak spot is the three-star score for rollover testing.
Official fuel mileage numbers on the Durango, are 18 city/25 highway/21 combined. I only averaged about 18 in my time with the Durango.
While these are hardly numbers to be excited about, and FCA vehicles typically do underperform in fuel mileage, to be honest I can say after having driven most of the competitors in the three-row SUV segment that these numbers are near the top of the list in the segment.
These vehicles aren’t small, so you’re not going to get the type of mileage numbers you would like. It’s one of the tradeoffs in this segment for being able to get everyone and everything in your life from point A to point B.
Quite a range in prices here, depending which version of the Durango you choose.
The no-frills base model (which can also be ordered with two rows if desired) starts out at $29,995.
GT trim level starts at $37,495, then the Citadel trim level and R/T trim level both start over $40K, and with options and the destination charge, you can top out at more than $50K, which my test vehicle did ($53,870 to be exact).
That’s no small chunk of change, but this is a large and capable vehicle so it’s not a shock, and much of the competition is right there with it. Key to keeping price in check, as always, is to see what features are offered at each trim level and choose based on what you need and don’t need.
If lots of room for the family and a powerful ride are your goals, the Durango is one of the best options in the three-row SUV category, especially if you plan to do some towing and travel regularly. There’s a reason it’s still around and largely unchanged after a good bit of years -- it does what it does well.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.