2006 Durango New Car Test Drive
Boldly styled, the Dodge Durango is big and powerful, but surprisingly refined. That's right, refined. Dodge and refinement haven't always gone together, but the Durango is quiet and it rides smoothly. Its handling is stable and relatively agile. Inside is a quiet, roomy, comfortable and technologically sophisticated cabin.
This second-generation Durango is big. Its exterior dimensions place it between the Chevy Tahoe and Ford Expedition in size, but it benefits greatly from a space-efficient design. Durango can seat up to eight passengers with the optional 60/40 folding third row seat. Folding down the seats reveals more than 100 cubic feet of cargo space. You can slide full-size sheets of plywood in back. And a properly equipped Durango with the Hemi engine is rated to tow up to 8,950 pounds.
Two V8s are available and both are superb. The popular 4.7-liter V8 and the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 are smooth and powerful. They come with a five-speed automatic that's smooth, refined, and responsive, including a Tow/Haul transmission feature we like that holds lower gears longer when towing to reduce gear searching.
The base model has been dropped for 2006, so the Durango SXT is the entry level for the Durango line-up. For 2006 the optional 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine is now equipped with the new Multi-Displacement System (MDS) that disables four cylinders when cruising to improve fuel economy.
The Durango was awarded the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Five-Star frontal impact rating in 2005, in part due to the Durango's frame design, which absorbs front impacts. For 2006, dual stage front air bags and an occupant-sensing system for the passenger-side front air bag are standard. Curtain airbags and electronic stability control are available as options.
The 2006 Dodge Durango is offered in four models: SXT, SLT, Adventurer, and Limited. Each is available with two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
Durango SXT 4x2 ($28,200) comes standard with a 210-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 and a four-speed automatic transmission. The SXT 4x4 ($31,180) is equipped with the 230-horsepower 4.7-liter V8 with five-speed automatic transmission. Naturally, the 4.7-liter powertrain is available for the 4x2 ($860). Standard SXT features include air conditioning, cloth interior, power mirrors, illuminated entry lighting, front and rear power outlets, bucket seats, 40/20/40 folding second-row seat, AM/FM stereo radio with in-dash single-disc CD player and four speakers, cruise control, tilting steering column, and remote keyless entry. A full-size spare, 17-inch steel wheels with on/off-road tires, and a 27-gallon fuel tank come standard. Options include rear climate controls, a power sunroof, AM/FM/6CD/MP3, halogen headlamps, running boards, a towing package, a bigger alternator and battery, heavy-duty shocks and springs, skid plates, and a two-speed transfer case for 4x4 models.
Durango SLT 4x2 ($30,350) and SLT 4x4 ($33,330) adds fog lamps, woodgrain instrument panel, power-adjustable driver's seat, and 160-amp alternator. The SLT comes standard with the same cloth seats as the SXT, but leather-trimmed front bucket seats are available ($1,025). Other options include a 60/40 folding three-passenger third-row seat ($300), power liftgate ($400), power sunroof ($850), power-adjustable pedals ($120), an overhead console with trip computer, heated front seats, Sirius Satellite Radio ($195), Infinity eight-speaker audio with subwoofer ($225), a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with wireless headphones, steering-wheel audio controls, full-time 4WD shift-on-the-fly two-speed transfer case, 17-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels, HomeLink remote system, Sentry Key engine immobilizer, and UConnect ($275), which uses Bluetooth wireless for hands-free cell phone operation.
The Adventurer 4x2 ($32,290) and Adventurer 4x4 ($34,410) are essentially SXT models equipped specifically for off-road and sport use. Adventurer models come with tubular side steps, reversible slush mats, rubberized washable cargo liner with built-in rear cargo organizer, and unique machine-finished wheels. The Adventurer is equipped with a Thule roof rack with a choice of six rack systems or an Adventurer accessory kit. The subtle mineral gray side molding and front and rear fascias distinguish the Adventurer.
Limited 4x2 ($35,085) and Limited 4x4 ($37,210) offer, in addition to the features of the SLT, heated front bucket seats with premium leather, power front passenger's seat, reclining second-row 40/20/40 folding bench seat, air conditioning with automatic temperature control, premium instrument panel bezel and luxury floor mats, a 384-watt eight-speaker MP3 sound system with subwoofer, six-disc CD and radio memory system, electronic stability control, 18-inch cast aluminum wheels, security alarm and Sentry Key engine immobilizer, folding power heated auto-dimming side mirrors, and a memory system for seats, mirrors, radio, air conditioning and adjustable pedals. A full-screen navigation system with CD/DVD capability with integrated control unit, hands-free communication system with Bluetooth wireless technology, and 18-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels are optional.
Safety features include optional curtain air bags with roll-over sensors added for 2006, and we recommend them highly for the head protection they can provide to occupants in a side impact or rollover accident. Side-impact air bags are not available. The advanced front air bags deploy with varying power based on the weight of the person in the seat. ABS is standard. Electronic stability control and traction control to minimize wheelspin and skids are optional. Government (NHTSA) crash tests resulted in a five-star frontal crash test rating (the best rating).