2012 Dodge Durango

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$10,177–$24,085 Inventory Prices
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Key Specs

of the 2012 Dodge Durango. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Cruising comfort
  • Long driving range
  • Stable handling
  • Stylish design inside and out
  • Comfortable, supportive front seats

The Bad

  • Some bobbing on winding roads
  • Hefty curb weight
  • Ride comfort with R/T's sport suspension
  • Available backup aids should be standard
  • Occasional kickdown lag (V-6 automatic)

Notable Features of the 2012 Dodge Durango

  • Newly available second-row captain's chairs
  • Slight gas mileage increase for AWD V-6 models
  • Seats six or seven in three rows
  • V-6 or V-8 power
  • RWD or AWD
  • 7,400-pound towing capacity

2012 Dodge Durango Road Test

Mike Hanley

The 2012 Dodge Durango SUV remains a solid choice for families that need three rows of seats and good towing power, but the V-8 engine isn't as stout as its specs suggest, and the R/T's sport suspension compromises ride comfort.

We reviewed the redesigned 2011 Dodge Durango last year, and the seven-seat SUV impressed us with its poised ride, refined interior and good V-6 power. In revisiting this full-size SUV for the 2012 model year, a familiar axiom surfaced: Bigger isn't always better.

Our all-wheel-drive Durango R/T with the bigger of the two available engines, a 5.7-liter V-8, had an as-tested price of $39,240. To compare the Durango's specs with the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer and Nissan Pathfinder, click here.

Modest V-8 Power
In everyday driving, the performance difference between the Durango's standard 3.6-liter V-6 and available 5.7-liter V-8 isn't that significant. In fact, it's so inconsequential that the thirstier, more expensive V-8 is unnecessary unless you need its extra towing capacity (up to 7,400 pounds; 1,200 pounds more than the V-6 can tow).

The V-8 delivers adequate acceleration in the city and at highway speeds, but it doesn't produce the kind of thrust you'd expect from an engine with 360 horsepower and 390 pounds-feet of torque, which makes you wonder, "Is that all you've got?" To be sure, the engine is lugging around a lot of weight — the all-wheel-drive R/T's curb weight is 5,331 pou...

The 2012 Dodge Durango SUV remains a solid choice for families that need three rows of seats and good towing power, but the V-8 engine isn't as stout as its specs suggest, and the R/T's sport suspension compromises ride comfort.

We reviewed the redesigned 2011 Dodge Durango last year, and the seven-seat SUV impressed us with its poised ride, refined interior and good V-6 power. In revisiting this full-size SUV for the 2012 model year, a familiar axiom surfaced: Bigger isn't always better.

Our all-wheel-drive Durango R/T with the bigger of the two available engines, a 5.7-liter V-8, had an as-tested price of $39,240. To compare the Durango's specs with the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer and Nissan Pathfinder, click here.

Modest V-8 Power
In everyday driving, the performance difference between the Durango's standard 3.6-liter V-6 and available 5.7-liter V-8 isn't that significant. In fact, it's so inconsequential that the thirstier, more expensive V-8 is unnecessary unless you need its extra towing capacity (up to 7,400 pounds; 1,200 pounds more than the V-6 can tow).

The V-8 delivers adequate acceleration in the city and at highway speeds, but it doesn't produce the kind of thrust you'd expect from an engine with 360 horsepower and 390 pounds-feet of torque, which makes you wonder, "Is that all you've got?" To be sure, the engine is lugging around a lot of weight — the all-wheel-drive R/T's curb weight is 5,331 pounds — but the V-6 is nearly as burdened. It's a testament to the strides Chrysler has made with its 3.6-liter V-6 engine.

The V-8 is matched to a six-speed automatic transmission that shifts smoothly and makes swift kickdowns on the highway — though it takes a deep prod of the gas pedal to evoke the downshift, which can leave you waiting a bit when you want more power.

Gas mileage trails the V-6 by a significant amount. The all-wheel-drive Durango V-8 gets an EPA-estimated 13/20 mpg city/highway, compared with the V-6's 16/23 mpg. To save gas, the V-8 incorporates cylinder-deactivation technology, which automatically — and unobtrusively — shuts down half of the engine's cylinders under light loads.

R/T Compromises Ride Comfort
Some of my lasting impressions from our previous time in the Durango were of its exceptional ride comfort and highway poise — all the more noteworthy considering its SUV roots. The highway poise remains, but ride comfort suffers in the R/T, which is fitted with a sport suspension. It also has a performance steering setup, which bothered one editor with its unassisted feel, especially at low speeds.

The R/T completely lacks the comfortable ride of the V-6 Crew trim level we tested previously, replacing it with firm suspension tuning that transmits the shock of bumps and holes in the road in a way that recalls a sporty car. There's just one problem: The Durango is anything but sporty, what with its 16-foot-plus overall length and considerable heft.

Interior Quality, Roominess Remain Strengths
Like other Chrysler products, the Durango benefits from the automaker's newfound commitment to interior quality, which can be seen elsewhere in models like the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300. It's far better than the prior-generation Durango's cabin — which was finished in crude, gray plastic — and makes the interior feel more welcoming and luxurious.

It's also comfortable. The front bucket seats have long cushions and wide backrests that form to your back. The R/T's seats are covered in perforated suede and vinyl, and they complement the cabin's premium appearance.

There's adequate second-row legroom for taller passengers (I'm 6-foot-1), but my shins touched a hard plastic panel on the back of the driver's seat. The second-row backrest reclines, letting you customize the seating position.

The third row accommodates adults, but smaller rear-quarter windows can make it feel a little claustrophobic. The Ford Expedition's third row is a little roomier, but that SUV is significantly larger overall.

Safety
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recognized the Dodge Durango as a 2012 Top Safety Pick. Honorees must achieve Good scores in IIHS' frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests, as well as its roof-strength test and rear-impact test, the latter of which evaluates how well the front seats protect against whiplash injuries.

As is required on all 2012 and newer cars, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are standard. Additional standard safety features include side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags for all three rows.

Optional safety features include a blind spot warning system, rear cross-path detection and a collision warning system. There are optional backup aids — rear parking sensors and a backup camera — that deserve to be standard. I don't usually feel a need for these features, but I did in the Durango. Its considerable bulk, combined with marginal rear visibility, make reversing a challenge, and I longed for an electronic backup assistant.

For a list of safety features, check out the Features & Specs page, or take a look at our Car Seat Check to see how well child-safety seats fit in the Durango.

Durango in the Market
Gas prices were high when we reviewed the Durango more than a year ago, and they're higher still today; the nationwide average for a gallon of regular is $3.85, according to AAA. That hasn't put a damper on Durango sales — at least not yet; they're up 33 percent through March 2012. A stronger economy and more confident consumers are no doubt driving some of the gains, but it's further evidence that Americans like their vehicles big — and are willing to pay for the privilege at the pump.

If the thought of $100 fill-ups doesn't make you queasy, the Durango is a good choice in this segment. However, take a pass on the R/T's sport suspension and the V-8 to get a more comfortable, fuel-efficient version. You'll also save some money on the purchase price, which you can set aside for those fill-ups.

Send Mike an email  



2012 Durango Video

Watch MotorWeek on PBS. Check MotorWeek.org for times and channels.

Latest 2012 Durango Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.7)
Performance
(4.3)
Interior Design
(4.6)
Comfort
(4.7)
Reliability
(4.5)
Value For The Money
(4.4)

Latest Reviews

(3.0)

Great car... day one

by Mep0906 from Port Arthur, Texas on July 17, 2018

Great running v8 in a wide stance suv. Fun to drive but everything just fell apart. First the passenger front widow just fell and would not roll up or stay up unless held somehow. Then within a month ... Read full review

(5.0)

Best car I own

by Nesha from Mountain View , Oklahoma on July 14, 2018

I love it, very big and spacious! Everything works great nice and clean. By far the best car I?ve ever had. Ant stop driving it! Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 Dodge Durango currently has 0 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2012 Dodge Durango SXT

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
acceptable
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 100,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Dodge

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, Carfax vehicle history report, rental car and 24-hour towing, and first day rental

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    7 years/100,000 mile warranty on all certified vehicles
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 75,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 125 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Durango received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker