By KBB.com Editors
Despite the growing popularity of crossover utility vehicles, or CUVs, for those with serious towing and hauling needs there are few substitutes for a full-blown, body-on-frame SUV. Among the more notable is the 2009 Dodge Durango, a seven-passenger muscle machine with a rugged and distinctive style, a fairly plush interior and the option of a HEMI V8 under the hood. Although not as large as a Chevrolet Suburban, the Durango has grown large enough to compete head-on with such competitors as the Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford Expedition. Dodge's MDS (Multiple-Displacement System) technology helps save some gas, and a new hybrid-model goes even further. Alternative fuel fans will be sad to learn the 4.7-liter Flex-Fuel V8 has been dropped.You'll Like This Car If...
If you need a roomy SUV but the thought of a full-size Suburban turns you off, check out the 2009 Dodge Durango. It offers seating for seven and still has a fair amount of room for cargo behind the third-row seat. Environmentally conscious power freaks will love the optional 5.7-liter HEMI Hybrid.You May Not Like This Car If...
The Dodge Durango isn't big like a Chevrolet Suburban, but it's still big and thirsty on gas. The Durango's bold styling may not be everyone's cup of tea and may grow old fast.What's New for 2009
A new two-mode HEMI Hybrid models joins the line, promising a 25 percent improvement in fuel economy with a 40 percent jump in city driving. The SXT nameplate changes to the SE, while the Adventurer trim is sent wandering off into the sunset.Driving It Driving Impressions
On the road, the Durango delivers a noticeably smoother ride than several others in the class. The quiet interior is free from the intrusive wind and tire noise of the first generation. The steering is pretty impressive for a vehicle of this size, with good response and feedback that allow the driver to make exact lane changes and easily negotiate tight turns. Power for the base Durango is supplied by a sturdy 3.7-liter V6, with the 4.7-liter Magnum and the mighty 5.7-liter HEMI V8s as options. The base Durango is rear-wheel drive and offers the option of on-demand four-wheel drive but only when equipped with the 4.7-liter V8; V8-powered Durangos have a tow/haul transmission setting that reduces gear searching by remaining in a lower gear for better pulling power.Favorite Features
The powerful HEMI V8 engine adds less than a thousand dollars to the price tag without a huge penalty in fuel economy.
Optional Heated Cloth Front Seats
Available on the SLT and Adventurer trims, these seats add warmth without having to add expensive leather as well.
The available split-folding third-row seats can be folded flush, and a flip-and-tumble second-row seat greatly aids entry and exit for rear passengers. The handsome dash is clean, simple and easy to use, with controls well within the driver's reach and logically arranged. Low-back rear seats won't block the driver's rearward view and feature headrests that can extend high enough to accommodate the tallest passengers. A nice option is the heated quad bucket seat package available on the Limited trim level.Exterior
The 2009 Dodge Durango's styling remains as bold as the first Dodge Durango. The Durango's newest look basically exaggerates the original model's popular styling by enlarging the grille and front headlamps and giving a new look to the rear. Large six-by-nine-inch side mirrors improve driver visibility, while optional 20-inch chrome wheels are sure to increase the Durango's ability to get noticed. Total up all the little changes and the effect is one strikingly imposing vehicle that looks every bit as tough as it claims to be.Notable Standard Equipment
The 2009 Dodge Durango SE features a V6 engine, air conditioning, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), rear defroster, power locks, express up/down front window, power mirrors, AM/FM stereo with CD, speed control, side-curtain air bags, Electronic Stability Program, traction control, tilt wheel, fog lights, 17-inch painted wheels and a rear wiper/washer. The SLT trim adds a power driver's seat, 18-inch alloy wheels, 115-volt outlet, MP3-compatible six-disc CD changer, eight Alpine speakers and SIRIUS Satellite Radio. The Limited features a 5.7-liter HEMI V8, 18-inch chrome alloy wheels, power liftgate, leather seats, dual-zone automatic temperature control and ParkSense rear park assist.Notable Optional Equipment
Options include a 4.7-liter V8, 5.7-liter HEMI V8 or a 5.7-liter HEMI Hybrid, rear-seat DVD entertainment, six-disc CD/MP3 in-dash changer, uconnect tunes with 30-gigabyte hard drive, leather seats, shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive, third-row seat, uconnect gps navigation, heated front and rear quad bucket seating, power rear liftgate, ParkSense rear park assist, ParkView rear back-up camera, remote start, electronic transfer case, aluminum wheels, power sun roof, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and power-adjustable pedals.Under the Hood
Although the V6 looks impressive on paper, the Durango's weight makes for slow going with the base engine. The powerful 4.7-liter V8 makes it a better choice for shoppers trying to balance cost with performance. If you can afford an extra $1,000 and want all the performance available, the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 is the way to go.
210 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
235 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20
303 horsepower @ 5650 rpm
330 lb.-ft. of toque @ 3950 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/19 (2WD), 13/18 (4WD),
5.7-liter V8 HEMI
376 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
401 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD), 13/19 (4WD)
5.7-liter V8 HEMI Hybrid
345 horsepower @ 5300 rpm
380 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/22
The 2009 Dodge Durango's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) ranges from around $29,000 for the entry-level V6-powered SE to a high of nearly $48,000 for a fully-loaded four-wheel-drive Limited with the HEMI V8. Although the Durango is as big as the Toyota Sequoia, Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Tahoe, it's priced at thousands less, even with the V8 engine. Before you set out to buy, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price page, which shows the typical transaction price for a Durango in your area. You may also want to check the incentives listed on the optional equipment page. As for resale, Kelley Blue Book expects the Durango to hold an average projected residual value, on par with the Ford Expedition but well below the Chevrolet Tahoe and Toyota Sequoia.