The Dodge Durango offers a wide variety of engines: a V-6, two Magnum V-8s and a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. The new E85-capable 4.7-liter V-8 engine produces more horsepower than the previous 4.7-liter V-8. A backup camera option is also new. The Durango competes with the Chevy Tahoe, Toyota Sequoia and Ford Expedition.
Dodge promotes the Durango's "broad-shouldered presence," starting with a familiar crosshair grille. The SUV features short front and rear overhangs, a dramatically sloped windshield and what Dodge calls "powerful" wheel arches. Body-colored running boards are optional. Durangos have standard 17-inch aluminum wheels, but 18- and 20-inch wheels are also available.
Durangos can hold up to seven occupants when equipped with three rows of seats. A five-person configuration is also offered. Bucket seats are optional for the second row. Heated cloth seats are available, and SLT models have standard YES Essentials seat fabric that Dodge says is stain-, odor- and static-resistant.
Cargo volume behind the third row is 19 cubic feet; that space grows to 102.4 cubic feet when both rear seats are folded down. Second-row occupants get reclining seats, and an optional DVD entertainment system is available. Reversible slush mats are included in the Adventurer model, which has a rubberized, washable cargo liner. A navigation system is available.
Under the Hood
The base engine is a 210-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6. A new 4.7-liter V-8 that produces 303 hp and 330 pounds-feet of torque is optional, and it can run on ethanol-based E85, regular unleaded gasoline or a combination of the two. Durango buyers can also choose a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 that cranks out an estimated 335 hp and 370 pounds-feet of torque. The Hemi V-8 features a Multi-Displacement System that shuts down half the cylinders when they're not needed, which Dodge says improves gas mileage by up to 20 percent.
A four-speed automatic transmission teams with the V-6, but V-8 models drive a five-speed automatic. Durangos come with rear- or four-wheel drive. Dodge promises up to 8,950 pounds of towing capacity when properly equipped.
All-disc antilock brakes include electronic brake-force distribution. An electronic stability system and roll-sensing side curtain airbags that protect occupants in all rows of seats are standard. Rear parking assist is optional.
Steering is lighter than expected, and a comparatively soft suspension translates to an especially comfortable ride. This SUV can get a little woozy through repeated curves.
Handling is less than ideal, even on the expressway, as the Durango is a little too inclined to edge out of its lane. Suspensions differ among the three engine choices, but not dramatically.
Response from the Hemi V-8 is less vigorous than expected. Automatic transmission reactions are better with the V-6, which is a little noisier when pushed. The 4.7-liter V-8 might be a good compromise, but flooring the gas too often results in delayed, modest acceleration.
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