I hate to play the gender card, but from the get-go I am suspicious that this might be more of a guy's car than a mom-mobile. I've had several men tell me, "You really need to test out that new Dodge Durango with the Hemi. That thing's sweet."

What is a Hemi? Does it make carpooling easier? Will it keep my kids' sippy cups from leaking on the seats? No? Well then, what's it good for?

Loading the car seats requires some tricky maneuvering. Climbing up into the Durango via the running boards results in a nice dirt spot on the front of my clean slacks. My test vehicle arrived with a standard third-row seat. Of course, my 3-year-old wants to sit in the "way back," so I flip and fold the second row and snag my pants on a sharp hook sticking out. Thank goodness she's finally learned to buckle herself in, because the last thing I want to do is go through this exercise every time we enter and exit the vehicle.

This particular version of the Durango came equipped with a DVD player. I've read the statistics that kids are watching too much TV at home; I figure a TV in the car is just adding to the demise. However, after having the quietest car ride since becoming a parent, I'm now a convert. How pleasant it is to have two silent children intently watching Angelina Ballerina while my husband and I have an adult conversation -without interruption. I fear this won't happen again until my kids leave for college in, oh, 15 years.

While driving the Durango, I wonder who designed this car. Maybe Dodge let its mailroom intern do it. It's pretty poorly thought out. First off, the dashboard and instrument panel appear archaic. They resemble the Suburban I grew up with in the '70s.

The turn signals and windshield wipers are controlled by the same rod. The windshield wiper often turns on when I mean to use the turn signal. The control for the rear windshield wiper is located on the passenger's side of the climate control (quite a stretch for me).

Rear visibility is pretty good, but front visibility stinks. I didn't even realize this was a possibility until driving the Durango. The structure beams between the front windshield and the side windows are large and obtrusive. When making a left turn, the beam on the driver's side directly blocks my line of sight.

After pulling into a parking space at Barnes & Noble, a frightful realization washes over me: I've officially joined the ranks of "those jerks" whose cars are too big to fit in one parking spot. Granted, these spots are especially little.

After driving the Durango 4X4 Limited for a week, my original observation still holds. It must be a guy thing. My husband likes the roominess of this car. There's not much I like about it, and I still don't know what a Hemi is. By process of elimination, I think it must mean "guzzles gas."

*For more information on the Dodge Durango and its safety features, visit www.cars.com.