2012 Dodge Durango Crew 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)
I looked at all the worthy competitors before settling for the Durango. The Explorer was out quick (cramped interior/3rd row, cumbersome controls), the CX-9 lost on the kids-only 3rd row and boat looks, the Highlander on the smaller size overall, the Pilot on the dismaying interior (especially dashboard), noise, avg. reviews. I almost went for the Traverse, which has more room and sits better on the road given the much wider track, but the interior was a little coarse. The Durango won clearly on the looks (other than the rear), as well as on the better than avg. handling, power, interior. I factory-ordered an awd custom Crew with a bunch of options, black w/ black leather.
Front and side muscular yet refined looks; ample power; good, tight handling (easy even for wife); adult-sized 3rd row; sporty-luxurious-refined interior; smaller glazed area in favor of larger sheet metal coverage (possibly resulting in increased impact safety); wheels larger/wider than category; clear navigation system; top, powerful sound system; powerful a/c with outlets throughout; all top safety and tech features (most of them that I'll never use but it's nice to know they're there).
Wider track; 64" is for smaller cars. Many of the suv's above are in the 67's. Why does Dodge make narrow cars? (the Voyager, Caravan too) A benefit might be the lower drag at high speed, but I take stability over that. Related, the rear is too narrow and not up to the overall looks; which goes for the cargo compt., too; 3rd row doesn't fold all flat which causes cargo to slide back. Headrests are not removable(!)- a problem for child seats (in many newer suv's). Side mirror are a little flimsy and don't pivot forward enough to clear obstacles.
I so wish I could get a m/t for better mpg's; A/t friction stops these 5000lbs's suv's from even wheeling downhill!
Best choice overall still.
As a correction to the above, I meant the Journey (not the Voyager).
Having just taken the vehicle on a 1800 miles trip, I can also report that, overall, it provided a pleasant (mostly freeway) drive. It felt large enough for comfort, height/sight, and relative safety, not too large for handling/agility. The narrowness issue still stands. Wish it was 3" wider and 1" lower. Power was good for passing, though it hesitated by 1 sec. on sudden throttle. Same or longer delays on downshifts for engine breaking; these smart gearboxes are a joke across the board I'd think. Consumption: with a family of 4, with luggage, 90% freeway driving at speeds 65-75 mph, with a few jams, no to moderate wind, fairly flat, some city driving in between, gentle to moderate driving, I got 27.5 mpg. I'd think that one could achieve 28.5 mpg at a constant 55-60 mph.
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