2021 Durango New Car Test Drive
Big and powerful, the 2020 Dodge Durango is a crossover SUV that suggests brute force while providing the practicality of a minivan. Though the aging design is outdated next to some rivals, the Durango retains some stature in the field, helped by an available high-performance model and the ability to seat up to seven passengers across three rows.
New badges adorn the Durango R/T model, which also rides on new 20-inch wheels. A newly optional premium interior package includes a suede headliner and instrument panel with accent stitching.
Three powerful powertrain options are offered. The standard engine is a stout, well-proven 3.6-liter V-6, pushing out 293 horsepower (295 with sport exhaust) and 260 pound-feet of torque.
Stepping up a notch, the 5.7-liter V-8 produces 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. This motor is standard in the sporty R/T model and optional for the Citadel trim.
Topping the powertrain trio is the SRT, which packs a 6.4-liter V-8 that whips out 475 hp and 470 lb-ft, and includes a batch of performance upgrades. The big V-8 is borrowed from SRT editions of Dodge's Challenger coupe and Charger sedan.
All engines are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Except for the SRT, rear-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available. The SRT comes only with AWD.
Gas mileage is nothing to boast about. With RWD, the V-6 Durango is EPA-rated at 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 21 combined. AWD lowers the city and highway figures by one mpg each. Mid-grade gasoline is needed with the 5.7-liter V-8, which is rated at 14/22/17 mpg with either rear- or all-wheel drive. The SRT achieves 13/19/15 mpg and requires premium fuel.
Safety is a sore spot on the Durango's resum?, due largely to its elderly platform. The NHTSA gives the Durango only four stars overall. While the RWD model got a four-star rating for rollover prevention, the AWD version gets a mere three stars in this area. Meanwhile, it failed to earn a designation from the IIHS and received a 'Marginal'? score in the small overlap front crash test on the driver's side and for its headlights.
Further hurting its safety credibility is a complete lack of any standard active safety features. Some features are available, but only through extra-cost packages.
Automatic emergency braking, active lane control, lane-departure warnings, and adaptive cruise control come in a package, but it isn't even available until the GT Plus trim level.
The Dodge Durango is available in five main trim levels: SXT, GT, Citadel, R/T, and SRT.
The base SXT model starts at $31,990 including destination. It's powered by the V-6 engine and comes with cloth upholstery, automatic headlights, 18-inch wheels, three-zone automatic climate control, and 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Five-passenger seating is standard, but the third row is optional. The SXT Plus sub-trim ($36,085) adds the third row, satellite radio, rear parking sensors, an eight-way power driver's seat, and roof rails.
The $36,140 Durango GT adds a performance front fascia, 20-inch wheels, LED fog lights, the third-row bench seat, a fold-and-tumble second-row seat, and the power driver's seat. The GT Plus ($40,490) gets heated front and second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, a power liftgate, remote start, a security alarm, and a 115-volt power outlet.
The Citadel costs $44,490 and gets an array of luxury features, including Nappa leather upholstery, a dual rear exhaust setup, 20-inch platinum chrome wheels, second-row captain's chairs, and an 8.4-inch touchscreen with navigation. The Citadel Anodized Platinum sub-trim ($47,765) also includes ventilated front seats, perforated Nappa leather upholstery, and unique chrome accents.
The sporty $45,490 R/T steps up to the 5.7-liter V-8 and also includes a sport suspension, performance steering, black leather/suede seat upholstery, and “HEMI” badge. AWD models get a low-speed transfer case.
The top-dog SRT model is priced from $64,490 and uses the 6.4-liter V-8 with standard all-wheel drive. The SRT benefits from cooling-system upgrades and a Bilstein active-damping suspension. Black 20-inch wheels, a flat-bottom steering wheel, HID headlights, active noise cancellation, and SRT drive modes and Performance Pages are also standard.