Safety, Security and Convenience Group ($1,195 -- includes self-leveling headlights, HID headlights, power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, automatic wipers, automatic high beams, cargo cover, cargo net, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert); Second-Row Fold-and-Tumble Captain's Chairs ($895 -- includes floor mat, third row mini console, second row mini console, second row seat-mounted inboard armrests); Navigation and Power Liftgate Group ($850 -- inclues GPS navigation, power liftgate, HD radio, Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen display, 1 year of Sirius/XM Traffic/Travel Link service)
Naturally aspirated, port-injected V6, gasoline
DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression ration (x:1)
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
290 @ 6,400
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)
260 @ 4,800
Eight-speed automatic with console shifter and steering-mounted paddles
Transmission and axle ratios (x:1)
Decent power and torque at low engine speeds and at a dead stop; however, not a hint of wheelspin -- even with traction control shut off. Upshifts are quite smooth and right at redline, so no need to attempt manual shifting with the paddles. I found a slight advantage by holding the truck on the brakes for a moment, but it was only worth about a tenth of a second.
The brake pedal lacks feel and in our simulated panic stop, its initial resistance goes softer and the pedal travels all the way to the floor by the time the truck comes to a rest. I wouldn't call this a reassuring feeling at all. Despite this, the stopping distances were consistent. The Durango dives moderately, but the rear never feels light and stability remains good.
The steering lacks feedback and weight, so there's a sense of disconnection that doesn't really suit the occasion (of tossing a nearly 5,000-pound vehicle around at 60 mph). Were it more stable than it feels, this would be OK; however, the rear of the Durango begins to walk around by the third cone in our 600-foot slalom test and then the electronic stability system (ESC) begins to intervene with pronounced brake applications. There's a little more leniency in the ESC with traction control disabled, but this really shows up on the skid pad, where it cuts the throttle dramatically to minimize tire howl when it's left on. The Durango tracks well here and the chassis feels more balanced, but the light and/or vague steering remains.