By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 5.7
Shortly after gas went to five dollars a gallon and the economy took a nose dive, the full-size SUV's days looked to be numbered. Dealer lots were buried rows deep in vehicles like the Dodge Durango, and no one was biting. One would think after coming through yet another near-death experience, Dodge might kick their old SUV habit to the curb and focus on small, fuel-efficient cars. But that's not what happened. Instead, under the stewardship of Fiat, Dodge has decided to reinvent the Durango, creating a smooth, roomy and efficient full-size SUV from a single unit body shared with the newly developed Jeep Grand Cherokee. A bold move? You bet it is, but one that apparently has the potential to pay off big for Dodge – that is as long as gas stays relatively cheap.
The new 2011 Dodge Durango is well suited to those who need to carry more than five passengers and tow more than 7,000 pounds, all while riding in car-like comfort. Styling inspired by the Dodge Charger adds a sporty dimension not shared by other vehicles in this class.
If you're looking for a seven-passenger SUV with fuel economy figures in the mid to high twenties, you won't find a Durango to meet your needs. A diesel-powered Audi Q7 or Mercedes Benz GL might be a better fit; so too might the seven-passenger Toyota Highlander Hybrid.
The 2011 Dodge Durango is all new from the ground up. Riding on a unit body platform (the old model was body-on-frame), the Durango is now a more solid, stable and quiet vehicle. The new Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 engine serves as the standard powerplant, with a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 as an option. In an attempt to please everyone, Dodge offers the Durango in four distinctly different trims: Express, R/T, Crew and Citadel.
Driving Impressions We spent the better part of our 2011 Dodge Durango test drive behind the wheel of a V6-powered Citadel and the experience overall was quite pleasant. There's no getting away...from the fact that this is still a big, heavy SUV, but the 290-horspower Pentastar V6 performs admirably. Although we're certain you'll want the V8 for towing, the V6 has enough power to move a semi-loaded Durango with some urgency. The steering feel at the wheel is heavy, but the turn-in response is excellent and the Durango tracks straight and true on the highway. Wind and tire noise are kept at a minimum, a result of added insulation and heavy gauge steel used throughout the cabin. The Durango handles fairly well for such a heavy vehicle, but the stiff suspension, especially on the R/T trim, can also feel abrupt at times, especially when passing over small bumps and road distortions.
About the closest you'll get to an SRT version of the Durango, the R/T's lowered sport suspension, recalibrated shocks and springs and aggressive 20-inch tires make this one playful full-sized SUV. Oh, did we forget to mention its got a HEMI?
Blind Spot Monitoring
Big SUVs have lots of side glass for good visibility, but that doesn't always help when trying to change lanes with a car full of screaming kids. Thankfully, the Blind Spot Monitoring system will alert when something other than air is occupying the space you're attempting to fill.
Dodge has spared no expense getting the Durango's interior to shine. No matter where any of its seven passengers are sitting, they will be treated to supportive seats, yards of elegant materials and soft-touch surfaces, and about one of the quietest SUV cabins we've tested. Upper end trims feature heated and cooling front seats and an available heated second-row seat. Models not equipped with cooling front seats include a fold-flat front passenger seat for maximum load floor capability.
With 28 possible configurations, the Durango's interior is more than capable of carrying any manner of cargo or crew. Clever features, such as the remote folding rear seat head restraints improve rearward visibility, as does the available rear back-up camera. With 84.5 cubic feet of cargo space, the Durango's interior is about equal in size to the Honda Pilot, but smaller than the 116.9 cubic feet offered in the GMC Acadia.
Where the old Durango was big and bulky, the new Durango is smooth and sleek. Mimicking the same "coke bottle" side profile as the new Dodge Charger, the Durango strikes an almost wagon-like appearance that masks the vehicle's true dimensions. Lower in profile but still capable of venturing off-road if asked, the Durango has a rugged elegance about it that sets it apart from more pedestrian SUVs. From its split cross-hair grille to the sporty R/T trim with its lowered ride height, 20-inch rims and color-keyed ground effects, the Durango looks every bit a member of the Dodge performance family. Taking a cue from the Subaru Outback playbook, Crew and Citadel models now feature a roof rack with cross bars that fold into the side rails when not in use.
The entry-level Express trim features a 3.6-liter V6 engine, five-speed automatic transmission, 18-inch aluminum wheels, fog lamps, heated power side mirrors, remote start, tri-zone automatic air conditioning, 12-volt outlet and removable LED flashlight in the cargo area, tilt/telescopic steering column, and an AM/FM/CD radio with WMA/MP3 support, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and auxiliary input jack. At the opposite end of the Durango spectrum, the Citadel adds 20-inch wheels, a power rear liftgate, HID headlamps, power folding and auto-dimming side mirrors, Nappa leather and suede seats, rain-sensing wipers, keyless Enter-N-Go, eight-way power front seats, a heated second-row seat, and Garmin navigation. Standard safety features on all 2011 Dodge Durangos include electronic traction and stability control, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, Hill Start Assist, front seat side-impact airbags, and side curtain airbags covering all three rows.
Options vary by trim and include a Garmin-equipped navigation radio with 30 GB hard drive and SIRIUS Travel Link, ParkView rear backup camera, ParkSense rear park assist, side blind-spot monitor, auto-dimming high beams, UConnect phone (Bluetooth), Adaptive speed control, skid plates, Alpine premium audio, Bluetooth streaming audio, SIRIUS Backseat TV, heated second-row seats, power rear liftgate, rain-sensing wipers, and a heated steering wheel. Option packages include the Trailer Tow Group IV that adds a 220-amp alternator, heavy-duty engine oil cooler, Class IV hitch receiver, four- and seven-pin wiring harness, and rear load-leveling shocks. The CrewLux package adds leather-trimmed seats, heated front and second-row seating, in-dash Garmin navigation radio, 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, rain sensing wipers, auto high-beam dimmer, and bright exterior door handles and mirror caps.
The standard engine on all but the R/T trim is Chrysler's new Pentastar V6. Without question, one of the best V6 engines ever produced by the company, this engine has more than enough power to satisfy most SUV drivers. Equipped with dual overhead cams and variable valve timing, the 3.6-liter Pentastar is capable of achieving maximum performance without sacrificing fuel economy. The Durango's optional 5.7-liter HEMI V8 features fuel-saver mode that deactivates four of the eight cylinders when full power is not required. When power is needed, however, the Durango's HEMI has it in spades, delivering 360 horsepower and 390 foot-pounds of tow-ready torque. The AWD V8 model includes a low-speed transfer case with a neutral position setting.
290 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
260 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 (RWD), 16/22 (AWD)
5.7-liter HEMI V8
360 horsepower @ 5150 rpm
390 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (RWD), 13/20 (AWD)
By Cards Fan on Wednesday, April 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable, Technology within the vehicle"
Cons: "Gas Milage even w/VVT, road noise, reaview sight"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I really like this vehicle. 3RD row seating is a must for our family and the storage space available with the 3rd row in use is the best we've ever had. I wish I had the 8 speed trasnmission because the 5 speed is not really very good with the HEMI. But hey, It's got a HEMI!! It's difficult to see around you using only the rear view mirror, but the blind spot indicator is really helpfull."
By Roche on Tuesday, April 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,521overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Performance ride, UCONNECT, quiet, value, towing"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have owned my 2014 Durango since Dec 2013 and enjoyed every bit of the material on it. My wife drives a BMW X5 but rather steal my Durango because of the better ride gives and luxury in its class. This nice crossover handles the roads absolutely well on a smooth quiet drive have every time sit in comfortable bucket seats inside with UCONNECT NAV/Ventilated seats, blue tooth, audio includes Pandora and 1 year Sirius satellite radio. I love cruising around my Durango because of responsive handling get from it on lots of sleek performance. Its a fun SUV than ever I am not disappointed on features nor shortcomings that can be listed a really bargain. Towing capacity is excellent tow a 5,000lbs boat hooked on this small SUV which seems smaller on outside but have better quality inside from better options than my wife's X5 which she loves but likes the Durango more its been a great crossover for 4 months now there hasn't been not one problem out of it. I'm looking at another Chrysler/Dodge product searching for a new Ram truck while all our vehicles paid cash on and drive them for another 10 years keeping the Durango and buying a truck because I do travel a lot even work on a long distance business so have bit more room and better fuel economy which done researching on Ram 1500 on reliability and finding something with a great ride as test drove one making a new purchase next week probably order one with more features if can't found a equipped model. Back to my Durango love this SUV its better from Tahoe or Expedition in a greater ride and more room this was my Chrysler product I'm very thrilled with it because while driving it for couple months showed me what the Chrysler vehicles are like now in better rides includes fit and finish materials."
By Brewers on Monday, March 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,800overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Bought this SUV for my many trips to Mexico towing my boat. Highway driving is very comfortable and the Durango with the V-8 handles like a charm. Overall gas mileage on trips is 18+. Interior is quality and exterior is attractive. The console for radio/cd/sat/GPS is challenging to use (especially while driving). Only real dislikes so far; transmission is jerky periodically on some auto shifts between 1-3rd gears and clunky/rough/noisy when first shifting manually from Park to Drive. Lastly, annoying brake squeal with pedal pressure but only for last few feet before complete stop? Dealer says its "normal" but I refuse to believe that. Overall I am very happy I decided to violate my 25 year boycott of Dodge/Chrysler."
By rjksrf on Monday, March 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 89,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "reliabilty, fuel economy, ride"
Cons: "No diesel available"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"89,000 miles in 34 months. Never been to the dealer for any service or repair. All maintenance suggested completed and probably a few beyond the recommendations. Factory tires and brakes exceeded my expectations. Reliability, Ride, fuel economy and towing exceeded my expectations. If they would let us have the diesel it would be close to the perfect vehicle with the 2014 upgrades."
By Matt on Saturday, March 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very little out of pocket expenses in 2+ years"
Cons: "Automatic dimming dashboard lights."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Very low maintenance cost, basically to take it to the dealership for "free" oil changes every 3,000 miles. Excellent quality and reliability. The 3.6L V6 24 valve VVT engine towed my 6,000lb trailer pretty handily, only steep hills seemed to slow it down. My only regret is not getting the electronic controlled driver side seat."
8 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By happy driver on Saturday, March 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Cons: "mpg could say what it is."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I love this 2014 Dodge Durango limited. I bought this with a penastar v6 with 8 speed transmission and AWD. The interior is very nice with no cheap plastic. Lots of soft touch plastic,and the heated leather front and back seats are great. The v6 has a ton of power,and the transmission is smooth as silk. I upgraded to the dual blue ray dvd in the middle seats which work great. The infotainment system works great with a 8.4" touch screen that is just simply amazing. The third row is very large and comfy with great head and leg room. Everything in this suv has screams luxury!The price point was a little bit on the high end,but compared to everything else i looked at there is no competition. If your in the market for a great 7 passenger suv look no further than here. The only slight gripe i have is the mpg says 19 combined,but as of now i am only getting about 15."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful