The Dodge Durango’s last redesign, for 2011, qualified as a wholesale advance on its predecessor. The current Durango offers a combination of traditional SUV ability with crossover-like comfort, quiet, and features.
For 2015, a Blacktop Package is newly available on SXT, Limited, and R/T models. For audio buffs, a new Beats by Dr. Dre system will become standard on the 2015 R/T and available for Citadel and Limited models. Red Nappa leather seating is newly available for R/T models. Also for 2015, the Rallye Appearance Package option has been expanded to Limited models as well as SXT, including the R/T’s 20-inch wheels and monochromatic exterior. An SXT Plus package also is offered.
Every Durango has three-row seating, with second-row captain’s chairs available in all but the base model.
Durango works best for those with varied needs: plenty of seats, good cargo capacity and hauling flexibility, and top-tier towing capacity. The standard setup is rear-wheel drive, yielding even weight distribution, a compliant bump-soaking ride, quiet cruising, and good response to driver commands.
Engine choices include a refined V6 with a lighter appetite for gas, or a strong Hemi V8. Durango V6 can be ordered with all-wheel drive; the V8 offers on-demand four-wheel drive with low-range gearing.
The standard 3.6-liter V6 brings 290 horsepower paired to an 8-speed automatic; from takeoff it gets more torque to the wheels than the old V8/6-speed combo. On the plus side, the V6 gets an EPA-estimated 25 mpg Highway (18 mpg City) and has a big fuel tank, so those 450-mile scenic routes won’t leave you worrying about the next gas station. Those not concerned about mileage can opt for the Hemi, not because of its 70 added horsepower but for the extra 130 pound-feet of torque, V8 soundtrack, and higher tow rating. With AWD, the V8 gets an EPA estimate of 14/22 mpg City/Highway.
Durango can tow a minimum 3500 pounds fully loaded and up to 7400 with the V8 (more than most crossover competition, less than traditional V8 SUVs). With low range available in four-wheel drive V8s, it can handle ascents or descents that you shouldn’t even consider attempting in most crossovers.
Durango SXT is the base model, but it’s far from basic, with three-zone temperature control and a decent stereo with standard satellite radio. The loaded Durango Citadel has everything you need and a lot more, including ventilated seats. The sporty Durango R/T is bold, quick and genuinely fun to drive, despite its substantial size. Options run the gamut from blind-spot warning to 506-watt Alpine audio.
Durango competes in a crowded category against the GMC Acadia, Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave, Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander and 4Runner, Nissan Pathfinder, and Honda Pilot.
The Durango is a great vehicle for drivers who can take advantage of its strengths. Those who do no towing, never go off-highway or don’t need the V8 might consider the Dodge Grand Caravan, which has more people room and as much cargo space behind the second row as the Durango does behind the front seats. However, the Grand Caravan is not as nimble, fun to drive, or work-oriented.
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