Offering much of the coolness of the R/T model in a more affordable package, the new 2011 Dodge Durango Heat made its debut in Chicago. Available only in a five-passenger configuration, the new Heat gets the same dedicated body/chassis enhancements as the Hemi-powered R/T, including a sport-tuned suspension, custom 20-inch Satin Carbon-finish alloy wheels and a choice of 265/50 all-season or summer tires. But a look underhood reveals that the R/T's 5.7-liter/360-horsepower V8 has been replaced by the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, here tuned to turn out a still-respectable 295 ponies and 260 lb-ft of torque, which can be sent to the rear or all four wheels via a five-speed automatic transmission.
The sacrifice in sheer force does have its rewards, as the new Durango Heat offers a best-in-class 6,200-pound tow capacity, has a 130-mph top speed and gets up to 23 mpg on the highway -- 22 mpg in the AWD model. In addition to a class-leading 50 cu. ft. of storage space behind its second row seat, the new Heat also features Uconnect Voice Command and a premium 506-watt/10-speaker Alpine premium audio system, also shared with the R/T model. Pricing for the new 2011 Dodge Durango Heat starts at $36,315 for the rear-drive model and $38,715 for the 2011 Dodge Durango Heat AWD.