By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 6.6
The SUV holds a popular spot in the driveways and garages of America thanks to its passenger, cargo and towing capabilities. The 2016 Dodge Durango nails those high points, and adds big SUV capability in a package that's smaller than a Chevy Tahoe. The comfortable interior works for hauling people and cargo, and the 2016 Durango looks great inside and out, with a choice of five different models that help make it more dynamic than a Honda Pilot or GMC Acadia. This year, the powerful V6 gets start/stop technology to help fuel economy, while the V8 soldiers on with a 7,400-pound towing capacity. Interior features include a newly upgraded Uconnect infotainment system, and options like the 10-speaker Beats by Dre audio system.
If you need a bigger SUV to haul and tow, but not as big as a Chevy Tahoe, the Durango is worth a look. With 7-passenger seating and an available V8 it's a compelling choice. Plus, thanks to the updated Citadel trim or the R/T, it just looks great.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2016 Durango gets start-stop technology on V6 models to help improve fuel economy. Additionally, the Citadel model gets blackout trim, the Uconnect infotainment system gets an upgrade enhancing functionality, and a new Sport mode is designed to deliver a more dynamic driving experience.
The 295-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine that's standard in the Dodge Durango is more than adequate to move this big SUV around, maybe even better than you'd expect....
... It's smooth and refined, the 8-speed automatic transmission clicks off smooth shifts -- although sometimes it hunts for the right gear -- and it can even tow a respectable 6,200 pounds. However, if you really want to put the spurs to it, the 360-horsepower Hemi V8 is the way to go. This hot-rod version of the Durango serves up seriously quick acceleration and passing power, plus the added benefit of being able to tow 7,400 pounds. The Durango's size and weight are apparent on the road, but thanks to rear-wheel drive (RWD) and careful suspension tuning, the Durango is surprisingly sporty, especially in R/T trims, which can be downright stiff. Interior noise levels are quite low, and seat comfort in all three rows is admirable.
The Durango R/T is as close to an SRT model as Dodge makes. It sports a lowered suspension that enhances handling, low-profile 20-inch wheels and tires, and of course that 390-horsepower Hemi V8 engine. Put it together and you have one of the more agile SUVs in this price class.
ADAPTIVE CRUISE CONTROL
We're big fans of adaptive cruise control, especially in vehicles like the Dodge Durango, which practically beg for a road trip. Just set a speed, and the Durango maintains it, automatically slowing for traffic ahead, and even tightening the gap in slower traffic so you don't get cut off.
The 2016 Dodge Durango interior belies its competitive price, as it feels much more upscale than many of its competitors, especially in the higher-end Limited and Citadel models with their heated and ventilated front seats, and heated 2nd-row seating. The second row can be either a bench for 7-passenger hauling, or two captain's chairs for a more luxurious experience, plus pass-through access to the third row. Cargo space behind the third row is average, but the seat folds flat, and along with the flat-folding second row and a front-passenger seat that also flips forward, long objects are no obstacle for the Durango.
The Dodge Durango makes good use of LED accent lights. Under the projector-beam headlights are LED eyeliners that serve as daytime running lights. In back, a cool LED array makes a double span across the rear end, giving the Durango its "racetrack taillight" display. The bold crosshair grille comes in three different designs, ranging from simple chrome on SXT through Limited models, chrome plus a chrome mesh on Citadel, body color over black on R/T models. R/T models also get more body-colored trim, as well as the R/T's lower ride height. Others get more brightwork, especially the top-of-the-line Citadel.
Newly standard on all new Durangos is stop-start technology for V6-equipped models, and a new Sport mode designed to enhance the driving experience. Otherwise, things are largely the same as last year, with a standard Uconnect infotainment system with voice command, 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, fog lights, heated power side mirrors, and 3-zone automatic climate control. There's also a tilt/telescope steering column, plus an AM/FM/CD radio with WMA/MP3 support, Bluetooth, Sirius satellite radio and auxiliary input jack. Different models have different levels of standard equipment, with the top-line Durango getting a power liftgate and sunroof, navigation, Nappa leather seats, and more.
What's optional on one Durango model is standard on others, but either way you'll have to pay extra for things like navigation, an upgraded 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen, and an LCD multifunction display between the main gauges. Other options include a rearview camera, parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, power sunroof, power hatch and automatic dimming high beams. Option packages include a towing package that adds a 220-amp alternator, heavy-duty engine oil cooler, Class IV hitch receiver and load-leveling rear shocks. And of course that V8 engine and available all-wheel drive (AWD).
Standard equipment on all 2016 Durango models except the R/T is Chrysler's excellent 3.6-liter V6. Now augmented with start-stop technology to help save fuel at stoplights, this 295-horsepower V6 leaves little on the table when it comes to acceleration and power compared to others in the market. If you need even more power, there's the 360-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V8, which bumps towing capacity to a solid 7,400 pounds. It's also relatively fuel-efficient thanks to a fuel-saver mode that seamlessly deactivates four of the eight cylinders when full power is not required. Both engines are mated to a standard 8-speed automatic transmission, and AWD is available across the board. Note that the fuel-saving tricks give the new Durango competitive fuel-economy numbers.
293 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm (single exhaust)
295 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm (dual exhaust)
260 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 mpg (RWD), 18/25 mpg (AWD)
360 horsepower @ 5,150 rpm
390 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/22 mpg
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a rear-wheel-drive 2016 Durango SXT is about $31,500, including the $995 destination charge. On the other end of the price spectrum, an all-wheel-drive, V8-powered Durango R/T starts at about $45,500. Options add more, of course, and when you start checking boxes you can drive the price of a Durango to the $50,000 range, but not much higher. By comparison, the Durango is comparable to vehicles like the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer, none of which offers a V8 option. To get the best Durango deal, be sure to look at the Fair Purchase Price on KBB.com to learn what buyers in your area are actually paying. As for resale, we expect the new Durango will probably hold its own against the Chevrolet Traverse, but still fall short of the Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer.