2015 Dodge Durango: Road Trip

img 1887137322 1442258673353 jpg 2015 Dodge Durango; | photo by Evan Sears

I spent four days driving the 2014 Dodge Durango during the $40,000 3-Row SUV Challenge and came away a fan of its blend of strong power, capable handling and ample passenger room. Many other editors did too: The Durango took home second place in the challenge. Fast-forward a year and add three kids to the mix; I’m less than impressed.

Related: Research the 2015 Dodge Durango

My family of five took the 2015 Durango on a 350-plus-mile road trip during Labor Day weekend, and the Durango wasn’t very accommodating largely because of one simple function that many three-row SUVs offer: sliding second-row seats. I tested a Durango Citadel with second-row bucket seats and placed two rear-facing infant car seats in the second row and a forward-facing car seat in the third row. With the seats installed in the second row, there’s no way to get to the third row because the seats do not slide. At all. Instead, they tumble forward. The resulting opening is large enough for easy passage to the third row, but not possible when car seats are installed.

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Since my model had the captain’s chairs, I could just have had my 5-year-old shimmy around the rear-facing car seats and then squeeze through those captain’s chairs to get to the third row, right? Not as easy as it sounds. The second-row bucket seats are separated by a large, multitiered center console. Great for storage; not so great for scaling with tiny legs. The console was too big for her to navigate comfortably. There are Durangos that do not come with the console between the two seats for an easier pass-through, however. 

img 1604790423 1442258671838 jpg 2015 Dodge Durango; | photo by Evan Sears

How about entering the third row through the cargo area? Again, this is not as easy as it sounds. We folded half of the 50/50-split folding third row down to accommodate two portable cribs, a double stroller and loads of luggage. There was no room leftover for squeezing into the third row. 

The Durango also failed to impress in the fuel economy department. My test model was equipped with the 295-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 and all-wheel drive. Over 357 miles of roughly 80 percent highway driving, I averaged 19.8 mpg, well shy of the EPA’s 24 mpg highway rating, but in line with its combined 19 mpg rating. With the standard rear-wheel-drive setup, the EPA rating jumps to 18/25/20 mpg city/highway/combined.

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Its small item storage capacity disappointed as well. Although the second row’s console easily swallowed snacks and random kid gear, the first row’s console box is uselessly small.

The Durango ended up getting us all to the beach, and still had the ample power and comfortable ride that I noted during our Challenge. But in this real-world test, it wasn’t smooth sailing getting us there. 

Photo of Jennifer Geiger
News Editor Jennifer Geiger joined the automotive industry in 2003, much to the delight of her Corvette-obsessed dad. Jennifer is an expert reviewer, certified car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats — many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer Geiger

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