Monday, October 17, 2016

Dodge Durango

By John Heilig

MODEL: 2016 Dodge Durango Limited
ENGINE: 3.6-liter V6
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 295 hp @ 6,400 rpm/290 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
WHEELBASE: 119.8 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 201.2 x 75.8 x 72.7 in.
TIRES: P265/50R20
CARGO: 17.2/47.3/85.1 cu. ft. (3rd row seats up/3rd row seats down/2nd row seats down)
ECONOMY: 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway/17.6 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 24.6 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 4,987 lbs.
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Equinox, Jeep Grand Cherokee
STICKER: $39,595 (includes $995 delivery, $6,075 options)
BOTTOM LINE: As a “standard SUV” the Dodge Durango offers incredible cargo capacity along with excellent road manners.

            One of the first things you notice about the Dodge Durango is its size. No, it isn’t in the same class as the Chevrolet Suburban, for example, and it doesn’t look that big from the outside. But get in the Durango and you feel as if there is enough room for almost anything.
            As received, the Durango had all three rows of seats up. This results in a still healthy 17.2 cubic feet of cargo capacity, which was enough for most of what we needed the Durango for, including trips to our compost center to get some mulch. Drop those third row seats down and capacity increases to 47.3 cubic feet. If you are really carrying a lot of stuff, the second row captain’s chairs fold forward and tumble into the foot well area for an incredible 85.1 cubic feet. 
            All this cargo capacity does not sacrifice the Durango’s excellent road manners. It still fells like a large sedan most of the time. In fact, we set it up with the third row seats in place and the second row seats tumbled forward as a make-do limousine. Fortunately, the real limo came in time and we did ’t have to bring the bride to her wedding in an SUV.
            As a sport utility vehicle, the Durango us long on the utility. Along with the cargo, you can town up to 6,200 pounds, and a towing package and Class IV receiver hitch are included in the accessories as part of the $995 Trailer Tow group.
            As I said earlier, the Durango, while having the capabilities of a truck, is not truck like. The front bucket seats and second row captain’s chairs are comfortable for long and short rides. Second row legroom is very good and the third row legroom is also good, thanks in part to good design and a 10-foot wheelbase. 
            Our tester was equipped with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. A 5.7-liter HEMI V8 is also available and ups the towing capacity to 7,400 lbs. For normal driving, though, the V6, at 295 horsepower, is more than enough. Also, while the V6 has an EPA highway rating of 25 mpg, we were able to get 17.6 mpg in our generally local driving test. 
            Another unique feature of the Durango is its rotary shifter. This is a knurled knob on the console where all you have to do is turn it to select a gear. Since most shifting is electronic anyway, there’s no need for a stick sticking up out of the console or attached to the steering column. 
            Internal storage includes a nice cubby at the base of the center stack with 12-volt, AUX, USB and sD connections. There’s also a small “key” cubby behind the pair of cupholders. The center console/arm rest is busy with a CD changer and 12-volt connection, making storage minimal. 
            Instrumentation is white-on-black with red accents. The red background infotainment screen is clear, despite the different color scheme. There are infotainment screens located behind the headrests of the front seats for second row passengers to enjoy. The second row seats also have a permanent console between them which would make moving between the second and third rows difficult. However, with the tumble down feature of the second row, access to the third row is fairly easy.
            The rear cargo area is ideal for almost any size pet carrier, thanks to the versatility of being able to customize the seats. Families who need top carry wheelchairs with them can also find the cargo area easy to load, while the chair-bound person can enjoy the second row seats.
            While the Dodge Durango fits nicely into the “Standard SUV” class, it stands out because of its utility and less truck-like styling, as well as its road manners.

(c) 2016 The Auto Page Syndicate 

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