There was a time a few years ago when we thought the Jeep Grand Cherokee would replace the Dodge Durango. But here we are in 2017. Both models are still here, going strong and make great SUV choices. If you're having trouble deciding between these two sister vehicles and it's crunch time, here's a comparison of the two models we recently reviewed - the 2017 Dodge Durango R/T and the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk - to help you make your decision.
First, let's talk design. The most noticeable stand out between the two models is their two completely different front fascias. The Durango features a more streamlined front end these days. It's 20” aluminum wheels stand out and make the Durango sit up tall to offer terrific visibility all the way around. In back, there are racetrack-shaped taillights, which get you noticed at night with 192 individual LED lights.
The Jeep on the other hand channels the modern classic take on the parallel grille vents from the classic Wranglers of olden times. The Trailhawk model we drove stands out with a matte black decal on the hood. Of course, it pops the most with the red and white exterior body options. So no one mistakes it for a standard Jeep, there are red Grand Cherokee door badges, front tow hooks, and wrangler logos on the wheels. The tailgate also sports a really cool Trailhawk badge.
Under the Hood
Under the Jeep's anti-glare hood rests a standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. Good for 295-horsepower, it's not as much as the Hemi option, but still more than enough to make it a good drive. If you really want the power, though opt for the 4x4 with the 5.7-Liter Hemi V8. Jeep rates it 360-horsepower. You can also get an Ecodiesel V6 if you're a part of the diesel club. The standard Durango trims offer the same two engines, minus the Ecodiesel. However, we did get to try out the 5.7-liter in our R/T as it is the only engine option with the R/T trim.
Handling is where you see the biggest difference these two models. With the 4x4 option, the Trailhawk is arguably one of the best off-roading SUV in its class. No biggie for when you aren't off-roading either. It handles the freeway like a champ with a smooth and quiet ride we can't complain about. The Durango, on the other hand, is for the track driver in you. No need for off roading, not that it couldn't handle it, when you have the practical equal of a Charger in SUV form. It makes a great family car. And with that beautiful exhaust rumble we guarantee your kids won't be the only one's whose eyes light up with its strong accelerating. Also note, the Trailhawk comes standard with 4-wheel Traction control which is not available on the R/T.
This is another area that is a make or break when it comes to choosing between the two. The Trailhawk offers seating for five. Unlike the Durango, there is not a third-row which offers optional seven-passenger seating. If you're my mom that just made up your mind. If you're now swaying in favor of the Durango, here are some more things we like about the interior. The R/T model we drove came with two bucket seats in the middle row. This is great for the average two kids. They're separated by floor space and armrest. It also makes third-row access easy. As for the third-row, it can seat two adults comfortably by our test. The third-row offers a 50/50 split.
The Durango model we reviewed is a top of the line R/T. That means aside from the extra power, Dodge embroiders the R/T logo on the Nappa leather seats. You can choose between red or black leather with opposite contrast stitching and embroidery. Similar to the Durango, the Jeep embroiders the black Nappa leather and suede seat backs with the red Trailhawk logo. It also features red contrast stitching. However, unlike the Durango, you can't get the reverse option of red leather with black stitching.
The Trailhawk comes with plenty of standard features. These include steering wheel controls, paddle shifters, trailer towing package, keyless entry, backup camera, power liftgate, heated steering wheel, capless fuel fill, and remote start. The Durango beats out the Jeep with standard features though. A/C with 3-zone auto temp control, Cargo net and cover, power tilt/ telescope steering column, and rain sensitive wipers. Our Trailhawk test vehicle came with the luxury option. It included a panoramic sunroof, high beam self-leveling headlights, and LED fog lights and running lights. The Durango offers a regular sunroof as an add-on option. In the Durango, new for 2017, owners can view trailered items while the Durango is moving through the rear-mounted camera in models equipped with the 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen.
One of the features that the Jeep offers that the Durango doesn't is advanced park assist. Located just below the touchscreen, you can activate auto parallel and perpendicularly parking. You can also turn off the start/stop system. Both models offer safety packages. These add tech like adaptive cruise control with stop, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, collision warning, and advanced brake assist.
Both vehicles share FCA's UConnect infotainment system that we're big fans of. It's one of the easiest systems to navigate in the industry. They both also use a similar dash and middle console layout. So this really won't help you choose between the two, but its simple design and ease of use compares favorably above other SUV in this class. Media entertainment for both models consists of an optional Blu-Ray Dual Screen system. The screens flip up from the backs of the front seats.
Both models hold the same amount of fuel. But they get noticeably different fuel economy. In our test drives, the Jeep averages 21 mpg. The Durango, on the other hand, only averages 17. With their matching 24.6 gallon capacity, it means the Jeep gets a combined cruise range of 516.6 miles. While the Durango cruises 418.4 miles. That's a nearly a 100-mile difference in range. This really adds up the amount of time and money spent at the pump.
Best Overall Value
Alright, so now for the big question. Which model gets you the most for your dough? Both models when moderately loaded cost just above $50,000. But when it comes to overall value, you're getting more with the Durango. Keep in mind Jeep gets the same price with smaller engine variant, no third-row seat, and less standard features. The Durango really just gives you a bigger bang. However, if you really and truly intend to get mud on your fenders, go for the Jeep.
Photo Credit: Jeep/Dodge