2011 Dodge Durango – Click above for high-res image gallery

Hide your kids, hide your wife, hide your husband. One of the four-horsemen of the apocalypse has officially arrived. Consumer Reports has gone and paid Chrysler a compliment by saying that the 2011 Durango and Charger are the company's most-improved models and, on the whole, the automaker's cars are getting better. CR even awarded both the V6 and V8-powered Dodge Durango a "Very Good" road test score, putting it in contention with the likes of the 2011 Ford Explorer. The 2011 Dodge Charger Rallye also nabbed a "Very Good" rating, which is comparable to the 2011 Ford Taurus and 2011 Buick Lacrosse.

Even the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan walked away with the honor of a "Very Good" designation, but things aren't all lollipops and rainbows. Consumer Reports says that its testers were unimpressed with models like the 200, Avenger, Compass, Journey and Patriot, calling the vehicles mediocre.

Ouch.

The report says that poor reliability hasn't helped the Chrysler cause. Over the past three years, the organization has only recommended one of the automaker's vehicles – the Dodge Ram 1500. Hit the jump to check out the full press release.
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CONSUMER REPORTS: CHRYSLER VEHICLES GETTING BETTER BUT LEVEL OF IMPROVEMENT VARIES CONSIDERABLY

Durango and Charger improved the most in tests of eight Chrysler models;

200, Avenger, Compass, Journey, and Patriot remain unimpressive


YONKERS, NY - Consumer Reports' tests of eight Chrysler vehicles revealed the automakers' cars are getting better, but their level of improvement varies considerably.

The Dodge Durango and Charger, which received significant redesigns, have improved the most. Both the V6 and V8 tested versions of the Durango SUV received "Very Good" road test scores which now makes them comparable with the redesigned 2011 Ford Explorer. However, they score well below rivals like the Toyota Highlander and the Chevrolet Traverse. The Charger Rallye also received a "Very Good" road test score and now ranks close to the Ford Taurus and Buick LaCrosse.

The freshened Town & Country, a virtual twin of the Dodge Grand Caravan, earned a "Very Good." Its road test score is also considerably improved.

"It's clear that Chrysler is on the right path, but they still have a long way to go," said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center in East Haddam, CT. "We see major improvements for models that have had a significant redesign. When Chrysler invests the time and money in a true redesign, the result has been a much more competitive model."

Consumer Reports' testers were unimpressed by the 200, Avenger, Compass, Journey, and Patriot. Despite some improvements, they're still mediocre vehicles overall, scoring at or near the bottom of their respective categories.

Most of Chrysler's models have suffered from below-average reliability, according to Consumer Reports' Annual Auto Surveys and the company has consistently logged the lowest average road-test score in CR's yearly automaker report cards. Over the past three years, CR has Recommended only one Chrysler-built model, the Dodge Ram 1500 pickup.

All of the tested vehicles were updated by Chrysler for 2011. The Charger and Durango were redesigned and the 200, Avenger, Journey, and Town & Country were extensively updated. The Patriot and Compass received some minor updates. Consumer Reports will also be testing the updated Chrysler 300C, Dodge Challenger, and the new Fiat 500. Those vehicles weren't available in time for testing for this issue.

The full report on Chrysler models is available to subscribers of www.ConsumerReports.org on June 21st. Updated daily, it's the go-to Website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information. The report also appears in the August issue of the magazine, on newsstands July 5th.

None of the models tested are Recommended. The Durango, Charger, and Town & Country are too new for Consumer Reports to have adequate reliability data to Recommend. The 200, Avenger, Compass, Journey, and Patriot scored too low to be Recommended. Consumer Reports only Recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR's Annual Auto Survey of its more than seven million print and Web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

Prices for the tested vehicles ranged from $47,375 for the Durango V8 to $22,290 for the Avenger.

The Charger now handles responsively and has a steady, comfortable ride. Visibility also improved, but is still not great. The ride is steady and compliant. The Dodge Charger Rallye Plus ($30,945 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 292-hp, 3.6-liter V6 engine that is refined and performs well, getting 21 mpg overall in CR's own fuel economy tests. The five-speed automatic transmission mostly shifts smoothly but it can be slow to downshift when acceleration is wanted. Braking is Very Good. The spacious cabin is well-finished. The 60/40-split rear seatbacks easily fold down to expand the wide but shallow trunk area.

The redesigned, unibody Durango is much more refined and sophisticated than the body-on-frame model it replaced. Based on the revamped Jeep Grand Cherokee, it rides well and has a well-finished cabin and usable third-row seat. Overall the ride is steady and supple. The Dodge Durango V6, ($43,785 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 290-hp, 3.6-liter V6 engine that works hard to provide modest acceleration and gets 17 mpg overall. The Durango V8, ($47,375 as tested), is powered by a 360-hp, 5.7-liter Hemi V8 that gets 14 mpg overall. Acceleration times for the heavy Durango V8 are on par with six-cylinder competitors. The five-speed automatic transmission can be unresponsive at times. Wet braking distances are long, but overall braking is Good. Cargo and towing capacity is generous, making it a good alternative to a large SUV like a Chevrolet Tahoe.

The updated Town & Country is much improved but it still falls short of the best minivans. The compliant ride is more settled and does a good job of damping bumps. The improved interior is quiet, well-equipped and versatile. The Town & Country Touring-L ($37,505 MSRP as tested,) is powered by a 283-hp, 3.6-liter V6 engine that is smooth and powerful and gets 17 mpg overall. Fuel economy is the lowest of currently tested minivans. The six-speed automatic transmission doesn't shift smoothly. Braking is Very Good. Interior quality has improved and is well-finished. Cargo volume is generous; most versions have seats that fold flat into the floor. Many electronic safety aids, like blind spot monitoring, are standard on the Town & Country.

Despite a new engine and interior, the Journey is still a mediocre vehicle. The midsized three-row SUV rides well and is quiet, but its lack of agility makes it feel larger than it is. It provides a smooth ride overall, but it's not entirely settled. The Dodge Journey Lux AWD ($36,795 MSRP as tested,) is powered by a 283-hp, 3.6-liter V6 engine that delivers good performance but got only 16 mpg overall. The six-speed automatic transmission doesn't shift smoothly. Braking is Very Good. The interior had some very nice materials but the execution is haphazard. Cargo space is generous but the third row seat is tiny.

Despite their different styling, the 200 and the Avenger are essentially the same mid-sized sedan. The 200 is a mild reworking of the mediocre Sebring. Both models received an exterior face-lift, new interiors, revised suspensions, and a new available V6. But none of that was enough to make those aging designs competitive. Fuel economy was unimpressive, the seats are uncomfortable, and handling and braking are so-so. Both cars provide a compliant ride and good isolation, but frequent body motions make them feel unsettled. The Chrysler 200 Limited ($27,825 MSRP as tested,) and the Dodge Avenger Mainstreet ($22,290 MSRP as tested,) have a standard 173-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that is noisy and unrefined and gets 21 mpg overall in CR's own fuel economy tests. The optional smooth 283-hp, 3.6-liter V6 engine is much more powerful and returns the same 21 mpg overall. The six-speed automatic transmission can be slow to shift. Stopping distances are long. The 200 has a small trunk for its class; the Avenger's is larger. Trunk space can be expanded in both cars by folding the 60/40-rear seatbacks.

The Compass and the Patriot are small car-based SUVs that are styled differently, but are basically the same vehicle. Both provide a compliant ride and mostly simple controls. Neither is particularly agile; the Compass has lower limits in our emergency handling tests. The Jeep Compass Latitude 4x4 ($24,985 MSRP as tested,) and the Jeep Patriot Latitude 4x4 ($24,400 MSRP as tested,) are both powered by a 172-hp, 2.4-liter four cylinder engine that is noisy and sluggish. The Compass gets 22 mpg overall while the Patriot gets 21 mpg overall The continuously variable transmission shifts smoothly but causes more engine noise as it holds engine speed high during acceleration. Stopping distances are long. The interiors are improved, and most panels fit well but the ambiance is basic and the driving position is narrow. It's easy to fold down the 60/40 rear seatbacks, which creates a good-sized cargo bay.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 65 Comments
      Drive571
      • 3 Years Ago
      This post makes it sound like Chrysler has finally convinced CR to be its friend or something. Or it might be just... You build a better car, get a better review. It's not rocket science...
      bobmarley
      • 3 Years Ago
      baby steps...they need a nice 4cyl to go in the new caliber to keep turning things around
      fly by wireless
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nothing Consumer Reports says makes sense unless it fits what my emotions and biases say.
      Acer
      • 3 Years Ago
      I lost confidence in not only CR, but all the Auto magazines. They have always gave the imports good scores, even when the car was bad, and they all always give American cars bad reports, especially Chrysler. However I have owned 8 or 9 Chrysler's (I lost count) that I have put 250-300k miles on, and then traded it having spent less than $500 on repairs, and it still ran just as good as the day I bought it. There was 2 or 3 I spent less than $100 on in those 300k miles. I have never bought a bad Chrysler, the only two Chryslers I have owned that I did not get over 150k on, one I was rearended, the other t-boned and both cars were totaled, but I came out of both without a scratch, even being hit by the big u-haul, on the drivers door. I canceled all my magazine subscriptions years ago, and I don't usually let myself look at reviews because I know I'm going to get mad. I am glad that CR has finally recognized what I have known for years, that Chrysler has great products, they have had their problems, but all that has changed. Even during the 80's and 90's I was driving Chrysler's, and always got good one's. And that was when not even Chrysler executives drove Chrysler's. My last 7 vehicles were Caravans/Grand C. and that will probably be what I drive from now on. I have around 2,100,000 miles on Caravans, and I have spent less than $2000 total in repairs (other than brakes, tires, batterys, hoses, and belts), if that is not quality I don't know what is.
      Bill Burke
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have little confidence in Consumer Reports in the automotive evaluative area since I believe there is a strong import bias. The Toyota fiasco should be enough to question their ability to do testing and sampling that is valid. To consider the Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer as even equals would be enough to throw doubt on their objectivity of anything Chrysler. Having looked at both and knowing the significant capability and structural differences between these very different vehicles, the Explorer clearly falls below the Jeep. The Explorer is nice, but it's no Jeep inside, outside or on the road. One look at the improvements to the 300 or Charger and the minivans makes CR unreliable and without credibility. I'd call their work mediocre, double ouch!
      budwsr25
      • 3 Years Ago
      Dodge Durango is the best looking truck on the road this year. I even like it better than Grand Cherokee.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @budwsr25
        [blocked]
      Jorsher
      • 3 Years Ago
      Chrysler Corporation = junk No surprises here.
        Jorsher
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Jorsher
        I'm guessing the people that down-ranked own their garbage and have never owned anything else. Anyone can build powerful engines, but not a powerful and reliable one.
        Autoblog
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Jorsher
        Really, because it seems the Hemi won Ward's 10 Best Engine 6 times! 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2009 And then the Penastar won 2010 and 2011. Jorsher fail.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Jewelz
        • 3 Years Ago
        As everyone who commented has made clear. Brian has NO CLUE. Do you have any knowledge of cars??? Chinese plastic? There's more plastic in your "Jap" piece which was likely not even made in Japan. Hmm makes you wonder. I'm guessing you have never driven an American vehicle and if you have you're comparing your 2011 piece of Asian garbage to a mid 70's Pinto. I'm so tired of the fruits, nuts and flakes on the west coast acting like they have a clue. Maybe you can explain why ALL major Japanese car makers have not been caught "cheating" the system to avoid the information about unofficial recalls, etc? Anyway, as it's already been said, "Chrysler and GM have both repaid back their loans and 'we' made a good chunk of change from the interest". So try going to school or learning to read the facts. And along with the complaint about bailouts, all major companies including the Japanese and German automakers took an equivalent type of loan from their respective government entity. Great to see Americans finally waking up...even if Consumers Reports (who has also been in trouble for falsifying tests) is a joke as far as judging quality.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Jewelz
          [blocked]
          axiomatik
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Jewelz
          @invisibleblog GM isn't in debt to the taxpayers. The American taxpayers own a chunk of the company. I own shares in Ford. That doesn't mean that Ford is in debt to me.
        onewayroll
        • 3 Years Ago
        Chrysler repaid it's loan....take your head out of your ass.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @onewayroll
          [blocked]
          sensibility2
          • 3 Years Ago
          @onewayroll
          @Brian, Got any brain cells left? It must be hard trying to think. Isn't it?
        Mike Pulsifer
        • 3 Years Ago
        It's FIAT's baby now. Thank God.
      marcosc
      • 3 Years Ago
      Mediocre is what Dodge does best.
        Autoblog
        • 3 Years Ago
        @marcosc
        This troll is so bad he can't be considered mediocre.
        Mike D
        • 3 Years Ago
        @marcosc
        To be fair all vehicles marked as "mediocre" were ones that didn't receive a near full redesign. All vehicles that have received a full or near full redesign have been very well received.
      ManOnFire
      • 3 Years Ago
      The UAW union is the single biggest reason why Japanese automakers are always rated consistently higher overall in most categories than anything made in Detroit.
        rc_car_nut
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ManOnFire
        @ManOnFire -- It's not the UAW.... It was the crap that the company provided to them in parts to assemble. If I start with crap it will end up as crap, If I build with quality stuff I end up with quality stuff. Figure it out dumb@ss.....
      cashsixeight
      • 3 Years Ago
      How about nobody ever reads this stupid magazine. They tested the neon R/T back in 1998 or 1999 and got a 0-60 time of 9.5 seconds, when ever other REAL automotive magainze got about 6.5-7. When enthusiasts complained, they stated they didn't push the pedal down all the way to simulate real world driving conditions. WTF.
        Dan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @cashsixeight
        Oh, people do read stupid CR. People who own Asian cars, and want justification for their choice to drive ugly vehicles designed by an accountant. Consider CR's slavish devotion to all things Toyota over the years, when it turns out that many Toyotas were killing and maiming their smug owners all the time. Missed that, didn't you CR. Stick to reviews of blenders, toasters, etc.
          EnzoHonda
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dan
          And you missed the part where it was revealed that all of Toyota's problems were driver error or people piling too many after-market mats in the driver's area.
          Ronald. What up?
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dan
          Really? You believe that everybody caused their own accidents? You must be an editor at CR...Lol!
        DC Mike
        • 3 Years Ago
        @cashsixeight
        A co-worker who swears by CR (and drives a Prius... surprise!) gave me the CR auto buyers guide to look at while car shopping. The thing that blew my mind regarding CR is the fact that they mention the Cadillac CTS-V in passing. They acknowledged it in TWO SENTENCES in the whole damned guide! It was literally mentioned in the context of, "Oh yeah, the Cadillac CTS comes in a V version. It is a fast car." That was it! And never mentioned it again anywhere else. Not that the CTS-V is the end all be all, but DAMN. Really!? Two sentences was all the love you could find? I looked at it for a few minutes got mad and threw that junk in the trash.
          Ronald. What up?
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DC Mike
          And this is why I don't give Consumer Reports any love. If I want a serious car review, I will purchase a copy of Motor Trend instead. Because if it isn't Japanese, European or Korean, CR will ignore it.
      the.ting
      • 3 Years Ago
      Perhaps Chrysler finally realized how the game is played and paid Consumer Reports.
        Zavier Dewayne Nettl
        • 3 Years Ago
        @the.ting
        You mean, "pulling a GM"? *gasp! lol
        bobmarley
        • 3 Years Ago
        @the.ting
        Perhaps Chrysler finally realized how the game is played and tried to make something worth buying starting with a nice V6 and an all new durango
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