By on August 16, 2010

Jeep’s Grand Cherokee has earned consistently positive reviews by maintaining its off-road capability and nailing one of the few untouched crossover market positions between mass-market minivan replacements and high-end luxury SUVs. Does that mean the Dodge version, which will bear the Durango nameplate, will be similarly received? Not necessarily. Expected to be less off-road capable than its Jeep cousin, the Durango will compete head-to-head with the new Ford Explorer, GM’s Lambda juggernaut, and a pack of established mid-large CUV competitors. The Durango will also be the toughest trial yet for the tortured relationship between Dodge and the ostensibly spun-off Ram brand, as the Durango has traditionally resembled the Ram off which it used to be based (need proof? Dodge is calling the Durango a “three-row performance SUV”). On the positive side of the Durango’s balance sheet: an optional Hemi engine. Sure, the Grand Cherokee offers that too, but the Jeep brand doesn’t get to call it a Hemi. Now that’s what you call differentiation!

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27 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Yeah, It’s Got A Hemi Edition...”


  • avatar

    What it won’t have: a transmission with more than five gears.

    I’ve driven, but not yet written up, the new Grand Cherokee. Even with 290 horsepower it’s sluggish, especially at low speeds. The handling remains softer and less agile than the typical crossover. It rides well, but so did the last Chevrolet TrailBlazer.

    Overall I was much less enamored with the Jeep than other reviewers. Then again, I didn’t take it off-road.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      The Detroit auto industry has been infected with politics. Now that Obama has skin in the game, and so much of that money was pumped into UAW pension ahd healthcare funds, we have a problem. Many Republicans have only bad things to say about Detroit, while Democrats are saying good things. This bias is infecting car reviews. Overnight, Detroit critics in the media have found god in Ford … I bet you can guess who they voted for.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      @jj99: Really? Are you suggesting that positive reviews of Ford products are somehow a an Obama administration conspiracy?

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      What I am saying is get used to questionable articles from now until November as liberals try desperately bail out their sunk ship.

    • 0 avatar
      european

      actually, jj99 is onto something here.
      there was the ttac review of the new 2011 ford explorer.
      and well, you could hardly learn anything from it besides that the reviewer got a big ego.

      ehmm, but then i found this review, a video review of the new 2011
      ford explorer.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWVWHA902Lo

      you can almost see the vomit in the reviewers mouth, as he proclaims
      the back seats to be comfy enough!!! no BS

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      @MK:

      I have a feeling that the LLT V6 in the Lambdas felt stronger.

      The Pentastar doesn’t really have much torque and the V6 JGC only gets 3.06 gearing. On the plus side, the EPA rated the 4×4 V6s the same as the Acadia AWD and MKT AWD.

      If you are looking for power, the $1500 for the “don’t call me a HEMI” V8 is probably well spent.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      5 gears are plenty if they’re the right ones. Nobody complains about the gearing in the 4Runner or Pathfinder.

      The problem with the V6 Cherokee is the gears they chose are ridiculously tall. 1st runs to 55 mph, 2nd runs to 90.

      The reason for this is the CAFE test that matters for manufacturers isn’t the 2008 version that goes on the window sticker but the original test from 1978. Which is so slow (max of 3 mph per second) that even frustratingly tall gearing won’t bog or downshift.

      The V8′s gearing is if anything even worse. The passing kickdown 2nd goes to upwards of 100 mph. So what should be a very fast truck can’t put it on the pavement anywhere except the interstate.

      If they can set a 5 speed up that badly, I have no reason to think they won’t turn that 8 speed into 2 marginal town gears and 6 ODs as well.

  • avatar
    Alex L. Dykes

    Chrysler needs to ditch the Mercedes 5 speed and find some cheaper transmission with more forward gears. I’m sure ZF or Aisin would love to sell them transmissions.

    • 0 avatar
      holydonut

      You mean a transmission that was in its first iteration used in a 1996 model Mercedes doesn’t cut the mustard any more for a 2011 model year car or SUV?

      Mercedes (and flow through to Chrysler) is simply showing you how to get your money’s worth on powertrain investment. The A580/722.5/.6 will probably still be in use in 2035.

      If you can’t tell, I’m being sarcastic. This 5-speed thing is getting long in the tooth and really isn’t up to the refinement standards of this decade… but it remains a robust design that has proven itself to be pretty good (using the standards of mid-90s transmissions)

      Actually the SLR (V12 autobox) and Maybach 57 and 62 continue use the 5 speed thing… which is kind of frightening.

      I wonder what is the normal useful life for more robust transmission designs used in $30K to $45K cars and SUVs.

    • 0 avatar

      Chrysler is in the process of getting eight-speed transmissions from ZF. Refreshed Charger prototypes are already running around with them. Another year or so and the Mercedes five-speed will be gone from the lineup.

    • 0 avatar
      holydonut

      Dunno about a year or so… this is one of those cases where the chickens will be counted when they hatch.

      There were Calibers and Journeys with Getrag dual-clutch running around in 2007/08 … that didn’t end so well.

    • 0 avatar
      cole carrera

      holydonut: the SLR is v8 not 12

  • avatar
    thecavanaughs

    So it is confirmed that the Jeep gets two rows of seats and the Durango can have three? That’s good for a few sales right there, isn’t it?

    By the way, Ed- I heard that Lancia is making a new Stratos. You should look into it.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I doubt Dodge had the budget to develop a competitive mid-size CUV to compete in this segment so they filled the gap by re-badging the Jeep. While not an ideal situation I don’t think there was much of an alternative. At least the Jeep looks competitive and it makes more sense to develop one good vehicle and sell it under multiple brands than to dilute the R&D effort and potentially build different but mediocre vehicles for each brand.

  • avatar
    european

    the pics dont show much, but it looks good.

    many will be astounded by the new chryslers/dodges.

    • 0 avatar

      The questions are, a) will enough people walk in the door to see these greatly improved products, and b) will enough of them have enough faith Fiasler will be around in two years to feel comfortable writing a check for one of them.

      Those aren’t bets I’d take just yet.

  • avatar
    mjz

    I thought the previous Durango was based off the Dakota, not the RAM 1500.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      The original Durango was Dakota-based, but not after it was up-sized. Daimler Chrysler pretty well trashed what was originally a great and often under-appreciated SUV (and since the article mentions the Jeep angle, I’d have put my 98 Durango up against any of our previous Cherokees off-roading, too).

  • avatar
    mjz

    Ay least the JGC and the Durango will have more differtiation than Traverse/Acadia/Enclave.

    • 0 avatar
      GarbageMotorsCo.

      That’s not hard to do. The Outlook rebadge was gone and made way for the Traverse. All 4 followed the same mission, same engine, same transmission, same seating for 7, same ride height, overlapping price structures. Same problems with snapped camshafts, bad trannies, water leaks and goofy electrical gremlins like rear hatches that would open on their own or interior electrical systems farting out. I know way too many folks who have had all of these (and more) problems and it is not left to the “lesser” Chevys and Saturns but more Buick Enclaves than anything. And once these things get up in miles and start having belt stretching problems like my CTS had (same HFV6) it’s going to get real ugly.

      Now we wait for the Caddy version to appear next and voila, GM the rebadging “circle of Lambdas” is completed ;/

  • avatar
    gslippy

    There are four four-letter words keeping Chrysler alive today:

    1. Jeep
    2. Hemi
    3. Vans
    4. Fiat

    Maybe this new Durango entry will help a bit.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      The Vans? Oh you mean the Sprinter or the Caravan/Town and Country? I was confused for a min there. I was trying to remember when the last time was I saw a full size Dodge Conversion Van. Those would have been sweet with a Hemi or a Cumins.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @educatordan: Just the minivans, really. So much for my journalistic cleverness. I don’t even like the latest Chrysler minivan product, but I guess many others do.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      You’ll have to forgive me. I grew up in NW Ohio and was close to “THE WORLD’S LARGEST CONVERSION VAN DEALER” in Richmond, IN. Anything that fit the definition of “van” I saw during my childhood fully pimped out.

    • 0 avatar

      …as well as a seven letter word:

      Cummins. The residuals on Dodge diesel pickups are up there with with the ToyHonda appliances.

      A lot of guys purchase their the 3/4 and 1 ton for the Red under the hood. Unless you want to get a CDL and roll a Binder or Paccar product the Ram is the only game in town.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      Don’t knock the Sprinter. They sell large numbers of Sprinter 2500s to FedEx and other delivery guys (who work as independent contractors) and the like. I also noticed a lot of them on-site when my house was being built a couple years back. These are typically independent guys too small to swing fleet sales deals, although to be fair they’re usually stripped-down base models, too. Not sure if they qualify for OP’s “keeping Chrysler alive” comment but they do sell steadily and in volume.

      As an interesting aside, they are 100% identical to the Benz Sterling vans at about half the price. In fact I have a friend with a rather specialized business (installing elevators in mansions) who “converted” his Sprinter to look like a Sterling for about $3K. His type of clientele are impressed, so it was a worthwhile effort.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      @M1, the Sprinters are great vans — but they are doing nothing to keep Chrysler alive. The OEM contract between Daimler and Chrysler has been terminated, and the Dodge dealers can no longer sell them. Instead, it’s the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter now, like it always has been in Europe.

      Sometime in the future, Dodge is supposed to be getting new commercial vans from Fiat and/or Iveco.


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