By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.2
While the one-two punch of high gas prices and a weak economy had many predicting the end of the full-size SUV, Dodge came up with a better idea. With the 2012 Dodge Durango, the company has managed to create a lighter, more fuel-efficient SUV without sacrificing the things full-size SUV buyers demand, namely room, comfort and power. Sharing its body and engine/transmission setup with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Durango adds more length and by doing so provides an additional third-row seat not offered by the Jeep. The newest Durango also employs unit-body construction, which makes it more rigid and agile. With a choice of V6 or HEMI V8 gasoline engines, the 2012 Dodge Durango is evenly matched against such market competitors as the Ford Explorer, Toyota 4Runner and Chevy Tahoe, but it might have been nice to see a diesel or hybrid option to further distance the Durango from the crowded SUV pack. Ah, well; maybe next year.
If you need the passenger-carrying capability of a full-size SUV, as well as the ability to tow up to 7,400 pounds, check out the 2012 Dodge Durango. With its sporty styling and impressive road manners, the Durango is far superior to most full-size truck-based SUVs and even earns an IIHS Top Safety Pick rating.
If fuel economy takes precedent over power or passenger space, a diesel-powered Audi Q7, although more expensive, might be a better choice. If money is tight, the similarly-priced 7-passenger Toyota Highlander Hybrid also offers better fuel economy as well as superior resale value.
Changes for the 2012 Dodge Durango 7-passenger SUV include revisions to the automatic transmission on HEMI V8-equipped models, a 1-mpg improvement in the V6 AWD highway fuel-economy estimate and the availability of second-row captain's chair seating. The Express trim is replaced by the SXT trim.
Driving Impressions While we all the know the HEMI V8 is big on power and short on fuel economy, the engine that most impressed us is the Durango's 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. Despite...the 2012 Dodge Durango's mass, the 290-horsepower V6 never failed to accelerate briskly or deliver up ample passing power when asked. We can certainly see instances where the V8 is preferable to the V6, such as when towing heavy loads (6,200 lbs. for the V6 vs. 7,400 lbs. for the V8), but for those only interested in hauling items that fit inside the Durango's cabin, we think the V6 is the way to go. As for its road manners, the 2012 Dodge Durango SUV has a slightly heavy steering feel, but the turn-in response is excellent and the Durango tracks straight and true on the highway. The Durango's suspension tuning is a bit stiff, a complaint heard especially often from those testing the R/T trim, but overall the ride is still compliant and fairly comfortable. As a result of added insulation and heavy-gauge steel used throughout the cabin, wind and tire noise are kept at a minimum.
About the closest you'll get to an SRT version of the 2012 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 it's got a HEMI?
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 boisterous kids. Thankfully, the 2012 Dodge Durango's Blind-spot Monitoring system will alert when something other than air is occupying the space you're attempting to fill.
If you're looking for luxury car-like quality and craftsmanship, look no further than the 2012 Durango's interior. Dodge has outdone itself (and everyone else in the field) with an interior that emphasizes comfort, visual elegance and supreme quiet. Detailed fabrics and soft-touch materials abound, while seats have been meticulously shaped to provide maximum comfort with minimum fatigue. Ample use of sound insulation helps create one of the quietest Dodge SUV cabins we've ever tested. Crew and Citadel trims take things one step further, offering such features as heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seating and available captain's chair second-row seats. When not solely dedicated to maximum people hauling, the 2012 Durango SUV's 28 possible configurations allow for any combination of people and cargo, from the roomy spot behind the second-row seat to the full-length flat floor created by the flush-folding front passenger seat. 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.
With the exception of the new Ford Explorer, we think the 2012 Dodge Durango is one of the freshest faces in the 7-passenger SUV segment. With styling inspired by the Dodge Charger (you can see the signature "Coke bottle" sweep in the Durango's profile), the 2012 Durango offers a sporty attitude befitting its Dodge heritage. The Durango's sport wagon-like appearance is only an illusion, however, as it retains its impressive ground clearance and tall roof line. Of course, the R/T trim does sacrifice some ride height and its more aggressive 20-inch rims and lowered ground effects clearly limit its off-road ability. Then again, the R/T trim is meant to excel on paved roads and, with the potent HEMI V8 under the hood, acceleration is also best in class. Other clever features found on the 2012 Dodge Durango SUV include an available flexible roof rack that incorporates folding cross bars that can be stowed in the side rails when not in use.
The entry-level SXT trim features a 3.6-liter V6 engine, 5-speed automatic transmission, 18-inch aluminum wheels, fog lamps, heated power side mirrors, 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, heated and ventilated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control, Rear Cross Path Detection system, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, keyless Enter-N-Go, 8-way power front seats, heated second-row seating, heated steering wheel and Garmin navigation. Standard safety features on all 2012 Dodge Durangos include electronic traction and stability control, 4-wheel antilock 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 Monitoring, Smartbeam auto-dimming high beams, UConnect phone (Bluetooth), skid plates, Alpine premium audio, Bluetooth streaming audio, 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, 4- and 7-pin wiring harness and rear load-leveling shocks.
The 2012 Dodge Durango's 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 a 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 lb-ft of tow-ready torque. The AWD V8 model includes a low-speed transfer case with a neutral position setting.
290 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23
5.7-liter HEMI V8
360 horsepower @ 5,150 rpm
390 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (rear-wheel drive), 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