2016 Durango New Car Test Drive
The Dodge Durango's last redesign, for 2011, qualified as a wholesale advance on its predecessor. The current Durango offers a combination of traditional SUV ability with crossover-like comfort, quiet, and features.
For 2015, a Blacktop Package is newly available on SXT, Limited, and R/T models. For audio buffs, a new Beats by Dr. Dre system will become standard on the 2015 R/T and available for Citadel and Limited models. Red Nappa leather seating is newly available for R/T models. Also for 2015, the Rallye Appearance Package option has been expanded to Limited models as well as SXT, including the R/T's 20-inch wheels and monochromatic exterior. An SXT Plus package also is offered.
Every Durango has three-row seating, with second-row captain's chairs available in all but the base model.
Durango works best for those with varied needs: plenty of seats, good cargo capacity and hauling flexibility, and top-tier towing capacity. The standard setup is rear-wheel drive, yielding even weight distribution, a compliant bump-soaking ride, quiet cruising, and good response to driver commands.
Engine choices include a refined V6 with a lighter appetite for gas, or a strong Hemi V8. Durango V6 can be ordered with all-wheel drive; the V8 offers on-demand four-wheel drive with low-range gearing.
The standard 3.6-liter V6 brings 290 horsepower paired to an 8-speed automatic; from takeoff it gets more torque to the wheels than the old V8/6-speed combo. On the plus side, the V6 gets an EPA-estimated 25 mpg Highway (18 mpg City) and has a big fuel tank, so those 450-mile scenic routes won't leave you worrying about the next gas station. Those not concerned about mileage can opt for the Hemi, not because of its 70 added horsepower but for the extra 130 pound-feet of torque, V8 soundtrack, and higher tow rating. With AWD, the V8 gets an EPA estimate of 14/22 mpg City/Highway.
Durango can tow a minimum 3500 pounds fully loaded and up to 7400 with the V8 (more than most crossover competition, less than traditional V8 SUVs). With low range available in four-wheel drive V8s, it can handle ascents or descents that you shouldn't even consider attempting in most crossovers.
Durango SXT is the base model, but it's far from basic, with three-zone temperature control and a decent stereo with standard satellite radio. The loaded Durango Citadel has everything you need and a lot more, including ventilated seats. The sporty Durango R/T is bold, quick and genuinely fun to drive, despite its substantial size. Options run the gamut from blind-spot warning to 506-watt Alpine audio.
Durango competes in a crowded category against the GMC Acadia, Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave, Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander and 4Runner, Nissan Pathfinder, and Honda Pilot.
The Durango is a great vehicle for drivers who can take advantage of its strengths. Those who do no towing, never go off-highway or don't need the V8 might consider the Dodge Grand Caravan, which has more people room and as much cargo space behind the second row as the Durango does behind the front seats. However, the Grand Caravan is not as nimble, fun to drive, or work-oriented.
The 2015 Dodge Durango is available in SXT, SXT Plus, Limited, Citadel, and R/T trim levels. Each is available with a V6 or V8 engine except the R/T, which is V8-only. All Durango models come standard with seating for seven and an 8-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard; V6s offer all-wheel drive; V8s may have four-wheel drive.
Durango SXT ($30,495) and SXT AWD ($32,995) are powered by a 290-horsepower 3.6-liter V6. SXT comes with cloth upholstery, three-zone automatic temperature control, tilt/telescoping steering column, cruise control, power body-color mirrors, six-speaker audio, SiriusXM satellite radio and Uconnect hands-free phone operation, a fold-flat front passenger seat, 50/50-split folding third-row seats, 60/40-split fold/tumble second-row seats, foglamps, paddle shifters, and 18-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires. A heated steering wheel, heated front seats, park assist, Bluetooth, and backup camera are included with the popular equipment option.
Durango SXT Plus ($32,495) and SXT Plus AWD ($34,995) includes an option group that adds bright roof side rails and integrated crossbars, silver accent stitching and piano black accents throughout the interior, black leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, black leatherette seats with suede inserts, an 8-way power driver's seat with 4-way lumbar adjustment, and SiriusXM satellite radio.
Durango Limited ($36,895) and Limited AWD ($39,395) add to the SXT leather upholstery and steering-wheel wrapping, 12-way power driver's seat with memory and lumbar adjustment, 10-way power passenger seat, LED daytime running lights, mirror-integrated turn signals, heated second-row seats, roof rails, 115-VAC outlet, 8.4-inch Uconnect access via mobile with 911 assist, HomeLink, remote start, rear park sensors and camera, alarm, and unique 18-inch aluminum wheels. Two package options include a power liftgate, navigation; one also includes a sunroof and 20-inch wheels. Other packages include Blu-Ray dual-screen rear entertainment, safety/security/convenience, more chrome, and upgraded Uconnect systems.
Durango R/T ($39,795) and R/T AWD ($42,295) are the sportiest Durangos, powered by the Hemi V8 with a lowered suspension, bigger brakes, HID headlamps, Beats by De. Dre audio system, power liftgate, 20-inch black aluminum wheels, body-color trim and suede-like, red-stitched upholstery. Nappa leather seat upholstery ventilated front seats, a power tilt/telescoping wheel and driver memory system are part of an option package.
Durango Citadel ($40,995) and Citadel AWD ($43,495) are the top of the line. They come standard with the V6, but also with nearly all available luxury features, including Nappa perforated leather seating, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, sunroof, the best audio/navigation/Uconnect system, power tilt/telescoping steering column, driver memory system, auto-leveling HID headlamps, power liftgate, R/T brakes, unique chrome grille, polished 20-inch wheels, and rain-sensing wipers.
A Technology Group for R/T and Citadel includes adaptive cruise control with stop, forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-path detection, and advanced brake assist. Options available for every Durango include a towing package, second-row captain's chairs, second-row console, and skid plates (except R/T). SXT, Limited and R/T models can add the Blacktop Appearance Group, with gloss black crosshair grille and 20-inch aluminum wheels, plus black headlamp bezels, fascias and sill moldings; the roof rack is deleted, and the V6 is rated 295 horsepower. For SXT and Limited, the Rallye Appearance Group includes 20-inch Hyper Black aluminum wheels; body-color grille, fascias and moldings; and the 295-hp V6.
Safety features include dual front, front side-impact, driver knee, and three-row side curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes (ABS); electronic stability control (ESC) with trailer-sway control; and a tire-pressure monitor.