When I reviewed the 2015 Dodge Durango, I noted it was going away, that Dodge was dropping it in favor of a Jeep Grand Cherokee with a third row seat. Then the 2016 model came out, and now, I am reviewing the 2017 model, so I can only assume it is not going away anytime soon.
I think what I have enjoyed over the years about Durango is the value it represents. You get a lot of standard features for not a lot of money as compared to other similar SUVs, especially in the last few years, and today’s review vehicle is no exception.
I have the R/T model, which has stood for Road and Track since the ‘60s, and the R/T is the top-of-the-line.
You start with the SXT, and go up to the SXT Plus, the GT, and the Citadel. Under the hood you’ve got the tried-and-true 5.7 liter V8, and yes it’s a Hemi that is putting out 360-horses. Mated to the Hemi is an 8-speed automatic transmission. This combination offers a lot of power and torque, and will allow you to tow up to 7400-pounds, one of the best towing capacities available without going to a large SUV.
When not towing, the 5.7 uses cylinder deactivation technology to get you a respectable 22 miles per gallon on the highway when you push the Eco button on the dash. My tester is the rear-wheel drive version, but an all-wheel version is available as well. You can hit the Sport button on the dash to change the driving dynamics and performance, and it does make quite a difference.
When Dodge re-did Durango a few years ago, it got a more streamlined front fascia. As you move around the vehicle, you can’t help but notice the 20” aluminum wheels that make Durango sit up tall to offer terrific visibility all the way around.
If you go to the rear, you notice the racetrack-shaped taillights, which are super- noticeable at night with 192 individual LED lights. A standard power tailgate with large rear glass sits above dual chrome exhaust tips, giving the Durango a very attractive rear look.
As soon as you open the door, you notice a plush-looking and very clean interior.
My Granite tester has the black leather interior. When you get behind the wheel, you will notice how comfortable the leather seats are. The gauges on the dash are bright, and you can configure the driver information in the center. Everything is easy to reach, and like many of the Chrysler products, it has a rotary dial shifter, which I could easily do without, but it does give the center console more room.
You get a lot of standard features with Durango R/T.
They include a backup camera and parking sensors, remote start and pushbutton start, shift paddles on the steering wheel, along with audio controls. You also get at no charge a power tilt steering wheel that is heated, heated front and second row seats, cooled power front seats, and a Beats by Dr. Dre stereo system, which sounds great.
This particular Durango has second row captain chairs, which makes access to the third row seat much easier. The second row seats fold up easily as does the 3rd row seat if you need a lot of cargo area. The 3rd row seat is plenty roomy for two adults and is elevated to give the passengers better vision.
There is also good cargo room behind the 3rd row seat when it is up. With the second and third row seats folded down, there is 84.5 cubic feet of cargo area and the seats make a very flat load floor.
I love that the rear passengers get air from the center console as well as roof vents, especially with this black interior.
Options on this particular vehicle include a Blue Ray DVD player and video system for games, with dual 9” screens for the back seat passengers at a cost of $1995. 20” wheels are $595, second row captain chairs add $995, and the power sunroof is $1195.
This Durango has the $2295 Technology package that includes adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, full-speed collision warning, and advanced brake assist.
Finally, you get the terrific Uconnect system where everything runs on an 8.4” touchscreen and has GPS navigation system. You also get Bluetooth, you can add the apps that you use most often, you get real-time travel info, Pandora, and you can use the system for Wi-Fi. I find this system one of the easiest to use in the auto industry.
The Durango R/T rides and handles very well, has strong acceleration, and has a great sounding exhaust.
This is truly the equivalent of a Dodge Charger dressed in an SUVs body. It makes an enjoyable family vehicle and it would work well as a daily driver.
As mentioned, highway fuel economy is good at 22 miles per gallon, but you’ll take a hit when driving in town, where it is getting 13-14 tops. Overall mileage is rated at 17, which is less than its closest competitor, the Ford Explorer Sport, which actually has more horsepower with the 3.5 EcoBoost. Durango carries a 4 Star overall government safety rating.
MSRP on this one as you see it is $50,265, and starts with a base price of $42,095.
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