Dodge Durango Review & Features

2018 Average MSRP
$56,520
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N/A
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First Drive

2018 Dodge Durango SRT First Drive

"Muscle utility vehicle" just doesn't sound quite right, but the folks at Dodge don't mind. If they had, development of the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT would've hit a snag long ago.

Much like Jeep with its Grand Cherokee SRT, the Durango SRT started with some Dodge engineers asking "what if" questions. Like what if they reimagined the 485-horsepower Challenger SRT coupe as an all-wheel-drive SUV? It would be fast for sure, but it would also have three rows of seats and plenty of cargo room. And it would be able to tow a boat, too. Sure, why not?

2018 Dodge Durango SRT

Loud and Proud
Borrowing the 6.4-liter V8 from the SRT Challenger and Charger models, the Durango SRT makes 475 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. That's 115 hp and 80 lb-ft more than the 5.7-liter V8 offered in the Durango R/T produces. Both powerful and vocal, the Durango SRT's deep, emphatic exhaust sounds every bit as thunderous as you would expect.

Loud barks and a pronounced kick accompany full-throttle gear changes when you use the paddle shifters. The eight-speed automatic changes gears quickly and effectively, even matching revs on downshifts. The aggressiveness of the shifts can be changed by selecting one of seven drive modes. With launch control, Dodge says the Durango SRT will do zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds.

2018 Dodge Durango SRT

What Makes It Grip
The Durango SRT is surprisingly agile for a big and heavy SUV, with quick and accurate steering combined with a willingness to rotate in corners. The latter comes from the vehicle's 52/48 percent front to rear weight distribution, while credit for its overall agility goes to stickier tires and a firmer suspension with adjustable Bilstein shocks.

Pirelli P Zero run-flat tires mounted on 20-inch forged aluminum wheels both help increase cornering speeds and open up room for the large Brembo-badged brakes (slotted 15-inch rotors up front and 13.8-inch rear).

The all-wheel-drive system biases power between the front and rear wheels depending on the selected drive mode. At its most aggressive Track setting, 70 percent of the power goes to the rear wheels; in the Snow setting, the split is 50/50. The rearward power bias in Track helps make the Durango SRT feel a little more natural powering out of a corner — if that sensation could be described as natural at all.

A welcome byproduct of the increased power and braking capability is an increase in towing capacity to 8,600 pounds. That's up 1,500 pounds compared to a standard Durango with the 5.7-liter V8 and all-wheel drive. The SRT also benefits from a Tow drive mode that locks power distribution to 50/50, enables trailer sway control, and activates an active noise cancellation system to quell the boom from the exhaust.

2018 Dodge Durango SRT

Keeping Up Appearances
Beyond the engine and handling upgrades, the SRT treatment also outfits the Durango with the requisite "macho man" styling. The fascia aims to evoke the styling of Dodge performance cars by visually lowering the stance, while small fender flares add to overall width and cover the enlarged wheels. The hood looks similar to those of the Hellcat Challenger and Charger, with a functional inlet flanked by vents.

The Durango SRT's size makes it a unique option among SUVs. It's bigger than most midsize SUVs, but it's not quite a full-size. Longer and wider than a Grand Cherokee SRT, the Durango has enough space for a third row, upping seating capacity to six (a bench seat is available in other Durangos). The interior gains a flat-bottom steering wheel, leather instrument panel, and heated and ventilated front and heated second-row chairs. The Durango's rotary shifter is gone, replaced by a more traditional T-style shift lever.

Fuel economy ratings were not available at the time of this writing, but our money says they won't stray far from the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT's 15 mpg combined (13 city/19 highway) EPA rating. Like the Grand Cherokee, the Durango SRT can deactivate four cylinders while you're cruising to save gas. Drivers who are more sensitive might hear the subtle difference in exhaust when the engine's running in V4 mode, though the handoff is smooth.

The Durango SRT starts at $64,090, and that price includes a day of driver training at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving.

For the money, the Durango SRT occupies a rare space, even slightly undercutting the cost of a Grand Cherokee SRT. You won't find another SUV that can go as fast, seat as many or tow as much. It's enough to make us think that "muscle utility vehicle" might not sound so bad.

Wait. No, it still doesn't work.

Dodge Durango Review

Though the Dodge Durango has long been classified as a midsize sport-utility vehicle, its designers actually made it a half-size larger to fill the niche between the midsize and full-size SUV classes. As such, the Durango is often just the right size for those folks who need more interior room and towing capability than a typical midsize SUV can deliver, without the bulk and parking struggles of a full-sizer.

The first two generations of the Durango were truck-based SUVs in the traditional style. A used model from this period is a solid choice, though newer crossover SUV competitors outclassed the Durango by the late 2000s. The third-generation Durango, however, has joined the crossover club. It still offers V8 power and stout towing capabilities, but it is a much nicer and well-rounded vehicle overall.

Current Dodge Durango
The Dodge Durango is a three-row crossover SUV that seats six or seven passengers, depending on second-row configuration. It comes in four trim levels: well-equipped SXT, midlevel GT, sporty R/T and plush Citadel.

A 3.6-liter V6 is the standard engine across the lineup with the exception of the R/T. The V6 delivers respectable muscle with 293 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque (boosted to 295 hp in the GT, R/T and Citadel).

Standard on the R/T and optional on the Citadel is a 5.7-liter V8 good for 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. All models come with an eight-speed automatic transmission. You may also choose among rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive (V6 only) and four-wheel drive with added low-range gearing (V8 only). Towing capacity is a Durango strength compared to other conventional crossovers. An optional tow package with more robust alternator, oil-cooler and load-leveling shocks enables the Durango to pull up to 7,400 pounds.

In reviews, we've found that the Durango blends offers tight handling while delivering a composed and comfortable ride over bumps and ruts. The V6 is fine for daily driving, but the V8 provides strong acceleration and added grunt, useful for those planning to tow.

The Durango's interior is attractive and upscale, with quality and features on par with its competitors. Features include an 8.4-inch touchscreen display (standard on all but SXT) and an available rear-seat Blu-ray player. Second and third rows offer enough room for most families (the rearmost row can even comfortably sit 6-foot adults), though its seven-passenger max falls short of the eight-passenger capacity of its GM and Toyota rivals. Even so, we highly recommend the Durango as a midsize or large crossover SUV.

Used Dodge Durango Models
Revived for 2011 after a one-year hiatus, the current-generation Dodge Durango is a marked improvement on the first- and second-generation models.

Built atop a carlike unibody chassis, as opposed to a truck-based frame, the current Durango offers improved interior space and ride/handling characteristics compared to its predecessors. Exterior styling also traded a truck-ish look for a sleeker, rounded profile, and the cabin followed suit with big improvements in fit and finish.

Both the V6 and V8 came with a five-speed automatic. The 2012 model year brought a six-speed automatic transmission for V8 models, available second-row captain's chairs and revised trim levels.

Potential buyers should note that these Durangos lack the current model's eight-speed automatic transmission (introduced in 2014), refreshed styling and updated cabin that offers an 8.4-inch touchscreen display and a rear-seat Blu-ray player. A handful of special appearance packages have been available, including the Blacktop, Brass Monkey and Platinum. The Limited trim level was replaced by the GT trim for 2017.

The second-generation Durango was made from 2004 to '09. It was first offered in ST, midgrade SLT and Limited trim levels and came with one of three engines: a 210-hp V6, a 230-hp 4.7-liter V8 or a 330-hp 5.7-liter V8. These were offered with either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive with low-range gearing. Alternatively, a single-speed transfer case could be specified on select 4WD models, which essentially meant that you could get a Durango with all-wheel drive. All Durangos came with automatic transmissions as standard — four speeds for the V6, five for the V8s.

For 2008, the V8 engines were given a welcome nudge in power. The 4.7-liter now produced 303 hp and was more fuel-efficient as well, while the 5.7-liter V8 generated 376 horses. In an interesting side story, the Durango Limited HEV hybrid was produced briefly for 2009. It was a so-called two-mode hybrid featuring a Hemi V8 (345 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque), two electric motors (87 hp and 235 lb-ft of torque) and a dual-mode transmission with variable ratios.

There were other changes during this Durango's life. Side airbags and refreshed styling arrived for 2006 and the ST trim level was renamed SXT. Two years later, new options such as a back-up camera, a CD/MP3 player, DVD-compatible audio and a MyGig multimedia infotainment system with a hard drive to store digital music files made the Durango more competitive in an increasingly high-tech market. An Adventurer trim level also debuted, slotting between the SXT and Limited.

In our tests, we found the second-generation Durango handled adequately for a traditional body-on-frame SUV, though car-based crossover SUVs of the time were noticeably superior at providing carlike driving dynamics. Interior quality was a couple notches below what we've come to expect from family-friendly utility vehicles, and its interior space was inferior to bigger truck-based SUVs and large crossovers.

Given the Durango's mass, the V8s are preferable for towing and acceleration, but fuel economy was poor no matter what engine you picked. As such, we'd suggest looking at a 2008 or later Durango and even then only if you need a big SUV that can tow and haul a lot of heavy stuff.

Launched in 1998, the first-generation Dodge Durango brought big-rig looks to a segment full of what essentially were tall station wagons. Then, as now, the Durango was larger than the typical midsize SUV, but it looked and felt more like a shrunken full-size SUV. It was a sport-ute for the truck person: a vehicle that sat eight, but in pretty much every other way was the antithesis of a minivan.

The Durango was offered with several engine choices, including a wimpy V6, a couple of V8s and even a rare performance-oriented Shelby model with a high-powered V8, a lowered suspension, big wheels and racing stripes. None of the Durango's engines were particularly sophisticated or very fuel-efficient.

Generally, we suggest looking for a used Durango equipped with a 4.7-liter V8 (offered 2000-'03) or the 5.9-liter V8. The 4.7-liter delivered the best mileage out of the lot, while the 5.9-liter offered the most torque. Despite its rugged underpinnings, the first-gen Dodge Durango had better road manners than most truck-based SUVs of this era thanks to its long wheelbase, wide track and carefully tuned suspension.

If image projection and midsize-plus packaging were the first-generation Durango's strengths, its chief weakness was quality, both real and perceived. Gaps between body panels were sizable and inconsistent, and interior fit and finish was subpar compared to the competition. Ergonomics also revealed the utilitarian pickup underneath, and the third-row seat was uncomfortable for all but children. Still, among families who needed a real workhorse, the original Dodge Durango made many friends.

Dodge Durango Cars for Sale

2017 Dodge Durango Citadel
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MSRP$55,555
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Dealer Notes

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2017 Dodge Durango Citadel
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MSRP$53,060
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Dealer Notes

Price includes: $250 - Mid-Atlantic 2017 Bonus Cash MACHA. Exp. 10/02/2017, $1,750 - 2017 MA Retail Consumer Cash 35CH1. Exp. 10/02/2017

2017 Dodge Durango Citadel
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2017 Dodge Durango SXT
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2017 Dodge Durango Anodized Platinum
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2017 Dodge Durango Citadel
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MSRP$47,980
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Dealer Notes

4WD. Pearl 2017 Dodge Durango Citadel 4D Sport Utility 8-Speed Automatic 3.6L V6 24V VVT 4WD Reviews: * Unusually spacious third-row seats 8.4-inch touchscreen is one of the best in the class assertive acceleration with the V8 engine exceptional towing capacity for a crossover real off-road capabilities with 4WD and low-range gearing. Source: Edmunds

2017 Dodge Durango Anodized Platinum
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2017 Dodge Durango R/T
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MSRP$51,565
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2017 Dodge Durango Anodized Platinum
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Dealer Notes

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