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2018 Dodge Durango is the big, friendly giant of three-row SUVs Featured

Mar 02, 2018 Hit: 88 Written by 
The 2018 Dodge Durango remains a bold-looking and powerful contender in the three-row SUV segment.
The 2018 Dodge Durango remains a bold-looking and powerful contender in the three-row SUV segment. Photo by Matt Myftiu/AutoTechReviews.com

With some vehicles, you wonder what you’ll get with each model year, with tweaks coming on every version. And then there are vehicles like the Dodge Durango, which generally hold steady with what they offer yet continue to maintain the public’s interest -- because what they are doing is working.

I recently spent some time in a 2018 Dodge Durango, and I’m back with a full report on this SUV, which you could call the big friendly giant of the three-row SUV segment.

LOOKS

The short and simple way to describe the design of the Durango is that it’s perhaps the boldest looking of all three row SUVs.  It’s large, heavy and muscular in design, a visual meant to present it as a strong vehicle -- which it is.
Sharing a platform with FCA relative the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Durango is longer than the Jeep and adds a third row and features lots of leg and headroom.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2018 Dodge Durango
  • Price as tested:: $47,570 (starting price is $29,995)
  • Best feature:: Powerful and smooth ride, towing capacity, helpful technology
  • Rating:: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: Three-row SUV buyers who want a muscular, tech-savvy and roomy family vehicle

Seating caps out at 7 in the Durango; and my test vehicle offered two seats up front, three in the middle and two in the rear row (which I would recommend for kids only).
As per usual with Dodge, there are plenty of packages you can add to put some flair on the vehicle visually, including the brass monkey appearance package that features a gloss black grille and 20-inch burnished bronze aluminum wheels.

The Durango isn’t a luxury ride, but it still feels high-class inside and is quite comfy. You can get heated seats in front and middle rows, plus a leather wrapped steering wheel.

Seats can be adjusted to increase cargo space. Cargo volume is a strong 84.5 cubic feet.

 

HOW’S THE RIDE?

First of all, let’s talk weight. Coming in at 5,105 pounds the Durango is definitely not on a diet. It’s among the bulkiest SUVs and so it’s no surprise the ride feels a bit heavy and requires some effort to manage turns.

But what’s great about the Durango is that even though it won’t win any drag races or agility contests, it remains a very powerful, smooth and quiet ride at the same time -- and that’s what most people want anyways.

The vehicle I tested had a 3.6 liter V6 engine with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Numbers were 295 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. And if you really want bonus power, you can upsize to some V8 engine offerings, which give you either 360 or 475 hp.

Even with the V6, which most buyers will end up getting, you won’t be disappointed in the Durango’s power. Paddle shifters are included for those who like to control the gears, and the Durango is offered in both AWD and RWD.

Towing capability is one area where the Durango does extremely well vs. other three-row SUVs. My test vehicle was capable of towing 6,200 pounds, and that’s the minimum. The SRT version of the Durango is capable of towing 8,700 pounds.

 

TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY

Tech is another strong area for the Durango.

The optional Blu-Ray compatible in-car entertainment system worked well and is especially great for those with kids in the back, especially on longer rides and trips. The screens fold down behind headrests, so no screen is hanging in the middle of the vehicle.  Plus headphones allow those watching to listen without the folks up front hearing it too.

 

Getting to the center of it all, the excellent UConnect system is featured here again with its 8.4 inch screen (or 7 inch screen on lower trim levels). Voice, touchscreen and steering wheel controls were all easy to use on the Durango, and the Navigation system also worked impressively.

Audio lovers will revel in the optional Beats Audio system with its 506 watt amplifier. You also get 2 USB ports and an AUX port. Bluetooth is standard on most models of the Durango, and you get a free year of satellite radio.

Other tech/safety features offered include: A standard backup camera, Parksense rear park assistant, electronic stability control, traction control, hill start assist, remote start and keyless entry.


MPG
Official fuel mileage numbers on the Durango are: 18 mpg city. 25 mpg highway. 21 mpg combined. I only averaged around 17 mpg, which is lower than I’ve experienced in some of the vehicles competing with the Durango (though to be fair, the difference isn’t massive; the three-row SUV isn’t a gas sipper no matter what you choose).


PRICE

The Durango GT Brass Monkey AWD that I tested came to $47,570 with options. Base price on the Durango is $29,995 and you can go well into the $60K range if you trick it out sufficiently. So there’s a lot of options here to choose from.

BOTTOM LINE

With the Dodge brand’s heritage being very much focused on power, the Durango still fits in that mold, while adapting to modern times at the same time.
In my book, the Durango is Dodge’s best vehicle for the family and one of the best overall in the three-row SUV class. It offers power, a smooth and enjoyable ride, towing capability, lots of room for the family and all your stuff, plus strong tech and safety features.

==========

AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

 

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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: www.autotechreviews.com

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