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You won't mistake the aggressive-looking 2017 Dodge Durango for anything else, but this big seven-seater has more going for it than looks. It's a spacious and capable SUV with available V8 power, giving it the muscle for heavy towing jobs that would otherwise require a full-size truck-based SUV. We like it — not just for its abilities, but for the way it stands out from the crowd.
The Durango has been around for awhile; the current version was launched in 2011 and saw its last makeover in 2014. This year, Dodge has replaced the old midrange Limited model with the sporty-themed GT, and the base model can now be had with five seats as well as the standard seven. Normally we prefer vehicles that have had more recent updates, but we like the Durango just the way it is.
Most Durangos are powered by a 3.6-liter V6 tuned for 290 horsepower (295 in the Citadel model or with the Blacktop package) and 260 pound-feet of torque. But the V6 Durango can be equipped to tow up to 6,200 pounds, significantly more than its rivals. In Edmunds testing, a rear-drive V6-powered Durango made the run to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds, while all-wheel drive increased that to 8.1 seconds — slow times compared to the segment's best and a consequence of the Durango's heavy weight.
Standard on R/T models and optional on Citadel is a big 5.7-liter V8 that produces 360 hp and 390 lb-ft. Like the V6 it gets an eight-speed automatic, but unlike the V6 its optional four-wheel-drive system includes a low-range transfer case for better off-road ability. The V8 can tow up to 7,400 pounds, and you'll need a full-size body-on-frame SUV if you want to match that number.
Unfortunately, the trade-off for the Durango's muscle is fuel economy. The EPA rates the rear-drive V6 Durango at 21 mpg combined (19 city/26 highway), with all-wheel drive cutting 1 mpg from the city and highway figures. The V8 engine drops that figure to 17 mpg combined (14 city/22 highway) with either rear- or four-wheel drive.
But the Durango has no shortage of interior space, and even the third row is suitable for adults, a rarity in this class. We like the roomy backseat, which is easy to access thanks to big doors that open to nearly 90 degrees. The dash design isn't our favorite, but we love the 8.4-inch UConnect infotainment system. We are also fans of the Durango's comfortable ride, but you can feel its heft in the corners.
Dodge sells the Durango in four models. The base SXT has plenty of equipment for families on the go, while the new GT adds attractive styling cues and a more upscale interior. The Citadel offers most of Dodge's available luxury features, while the R/T concentrates on performance with a V8 engine and a stiffer suspension. Let Edmunds help find the perfect 2017 Dodge Durango for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.