By on June 15, 2011

The Chevrolet TrailBlazer and its many sibs are extinct. The Ford Explorer nameplate survives, but it’s now attached to a car-based crossover. Only one family of domestic midsize conventional SUVs remains—and, quite ironically, it’s based on a Mercedes platform. We’ve examined the five-seat Jeep Grand Cherokee before. For those more focused on people hauling than rock crawling Chrysler more recently introduced the seven-seat Dodge Durango. Is the all-new 2011 Durango only for people who need the dependable towing capacity of a conventional SUV? Or can it compete with the transverse-engined competition on their own terms?


As in its first two generations, the 2011 Dodge Durango combines the width of a midsize SUV with the length of a full-size SUV. The third-generation’s clean, well-proportioned exterior is a huge improvement over the perpetually pregnant previous one. If there is any fault with the new SUV’s handsome styling it’s that little aside from a crosshair grille distinguishes it as a Dodge. Also, it could easily be from a decade ago. But there’s also much to be said for timeless designs. The new Durango might not be au courant, but it also won’t look dated tomorrow.

The 2011 Durango’s interior is similarly almost too tasteful for its own good. The design could hardly be simpler, and some areas like the center console appear plain. With no racy curves and no fancy graphics, there’s nothing in here to surprise and delight—unless you’re surprised and delighted to find first-rate materials in a Dodge. Chrysler has upgraded nearly all of its interiors for the 2011 model year, and those in the Durango and the related Jeep Grand Cherokee are the best of the bunch. Not only does the top-of-the-line Citadel’s tan leather with black stitching feel as good as it looks (black leather is also available), but just about everything feels solid enough to go the distance. In terms of interior materials and workmanship, the more highly styled Ford Explorer is a step or two behind and GM’s large crossovers are hopelessly outclassed.
The Durango’s touchscreen controls don’t look as slick as those in the Explorer’s MyFord Touch system, but they’re easier to operate. One exception: the Garmin-powered navigation screens don’t only appear crudely rendered, but they don’t display many street names, so it’s often hard to tell where you are at a glance. The main instruments are similar to those in other 2011 Dodges. Their red perimeters, a Dodge brand cue, don’t fit the upscale, un-Dodge character of the rest of the interior.


Getting into the Durango highlights its first serious deficiency: the floor is considerably higher than in a car-based crossover, so it’s not as easy to step up onto. Once you’re up in the seat, though, the driving position is very good. The instrument panel and the pillars flanking the windshield are far less massive than those in the Ford. The Dodge’s windshield is comfortably raked and is neither too close nor too distant. Then there’s the width of the interior. With 58.5 inches of shoulder room up front, the Durango is about three inches narrower inside than the Explorer and GM’s large crossovers. There’s less headroom in the Dodge as well. So people seeking the roomiest possible vehicle won’t find it in the Durango. But, for others, the Durango’s cozier interior together with its driving position make it easy to drive for a vehicle that’s nearly 200 inches long and nearly 5,400 pounds.

The front seats are firm, perhaps too firm for some people. My main problem with them: I had to struggle to position the four-way-adjustable lumbar support so that it didn’t prod me uncomfortably. It’s a great feature very badly executed. On the other hand, the headrests have some fore-aft adjustment, a rarity these days.

The second row is comfortably high off the floor. The third isn’t, but this is typical, and the new Durango’s way back is considerably roomier than in the past and competitive with the car-based competition. And, if the kids back there get out of line, there’s a button on the dash to whack them on the back of the head with the headrest. This also serves to lower the headrests to improve rearward visibility, which is limited regardless. The rearview monitor proves very helpful.

Partly because so much space has been allocated to the third-row seat, there’s less cargo space behind it than in the Explorer or larger GM crossovers. Good enough for sizable grocery runs, but on family trips all of the luggage isn’t likely to fit without folding a seat or putting some up on the roof. Fold both rows—very easily done, as unlike in the Explorer the headrests flop forward automatically—and there’s still much less cargo volume than in the GM crossovers (84.5 vs. 116.9 cubic feet), but a few cubes more than in the Explorer. The Dodge does have an ace up its sleeve: unlike in these competitors, its front passenger seat also folds flat, to form a very long load floor (except in the Citadel, where the front passenger seat power reclines).

The new Durango is available with two engines, a DOHC 290-horsepower 3.6-liter “Pentastar” V6 and a cam-in-block 360-horsepower 5.7-liter “Hemi” V8. I’ve sampled the former in the related Jeep Grand Cherokee, and found it sluggish up to 35 mph or so. A new transmission with more than five-speeds of the Mercedes-supplied unit would help, but one isn’t available yet. Until one is, the V8 is the obvious choice for anyone who cares about low-speed performance. Because of the Hemi-powered Durango’s curb weight and the tall initial gearing of its Chrysler-engineered five-speed automatic (where the ratios are based on what was doable rather than what was desirable), even the V8 feels a little soft up to 4,500 rpm. Bottom line: with the 2011 Durango you need the V8 to match the low-speed performance of the V6s in competitors. 360 horsepower isn’t what it used to be.

In which case you won’t be matching their fuel economy. While the Durango V6 AWD earns competitive EPA ratings of 16/22, the Hemi AWD manages only 13/20 despite the ability to run on four cylinders while cruising. Even the old-school Chevrolet Tahoe achieves 15/21. In the real world the trip computer reported 13.5 to 16.5 in suburban driving but only about 18 on the highway.


In the V8’s defense, you can tow 7,200 pounds with it (7,400 with RWD), which is over a ton more than with car-based competitors. And the official specs might understate the difference. The longitudinal transmission in the Durango was designed with a high towing capacity in mind, and has been used in Dodge trucks for years. The transverse automatic in the Explorer and GM crossovers is inherently more fragile, and was designed primarily for use in cars. So if you need to tow a few tons the Dodge has a clear advantage.

If only the Durango’s brakes felt as strong as its powertrain. While they might be up to the task when pressed (with no mountains nearby and nothing to tow, I didn’t work them hard), they require an unusual amount of effort. Press down with a typical amount of force and it seems like the Durango doesn’t want to stop.

Partly because you sit so high, the Durango feels less agile than the Explorer and large GM crossovers. A VW Touareg feels even more car-like, aided by more compact dimensions and firmer suspension tuning. But the Durango’s handling is stable, balanced, and thoroughly predictable, with better body control than you’ll find in large conventional SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford Expedition. It also feels less massive and bulky than the platform donor Mercedes GL-Class, or the Infiniti QX56, for that matter. The Dodge’s all-wheel-drive system effectively limits the potential for fun. With it the attitude of the chassis is always dull but safe moderate understeer. I drove a rear-wheel-drive Durango earlier, when there was snow on the roads, and found it much more entertaining, with progressive, easily controllable oversteer when powering out of turns. I didn’t feel the need for all-wheel-drive, though the great majority of snow belt residents will no doubt insist upon it. The stability control system works very well, smoothly intervening only as much as is necessary.

While some bobbling is unavoidable with such a tall vehicle, the Durango generally rides very smoothly and quietly. Above all, it feels solid and precisely controlled the way premium European vehicles tend to. In comparison the large GM SUVs and, to an even greater extent, the large Ford SUVs feel unrefined and dated. Even the car-based crossover’s from these manufacturers can’t quite match the Dodge in this regard. Between its ride and its interior the Durango oozes quality.

The 2011 Durango has the look and feel of a premium car, but not necessarily a premium price. The tested vehicle’s $48,530 sticker might seem steep, but this is the top-of-the-line Citadel with every available option except the towing package. (A Durango Crew with V6, AWD, and leather lists for $37,565.) A similarly loaded 2011 Ford Explorer lists for $400 more. Adjusting for feature differences using TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool give’s the Ford a $1,775 advantage, but removing the $1,895 Hemi from the equation would more than cancel this out. Compared to the GMC Acadia, the Dodge with the Hemi is about $500 less before adjusting for feature differences and about $2,250 less afterwards. Remove the Hemi and the Dodge is significantly less expensive than the GMC. And compared to the Mercedes-Benz GL450 that provided its platform? Over $32,000 less before adjusting for feature differences, and nearly $29,000 less afterwards. From this perspective the Dodge could be a bargain.

Ultimately, the 2011 Dodge Dodge competes strongly with the Ford Explorer and large GM crossovers on their own terms. It does have a higher step-in and tighter interior, but handles nearly as well, rides better, and looks and feels considerably more expensive—without actually being more expensive. For heavy towing, GM and Ford offer only large conventional SUVs, and these feel unrefined and dated in comparison. The Durango’s weakest area: its transmissions. Fuel economy lags with the V8, while the V6 needs a transmission with a larger number of better ratios to provide competitive low-speed performance. Granted, most people drive in a relaxed fashion and so will find nothing wrong with the current powertrain. For the others, a new transmission is on the way.

Dodge provided the Durango Citadel, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

The Durango Crew was provided by Michael Williams at Southfield Dodge in Southfield, MI (248) 354-2950.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.

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72 Comments on “Review: 2011 Dodge Durango Citadel...”


  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    An earlier review, of the R/T:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/review-2011-dodge-durango-rt/

  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    “Ultimately, the 2011 Dodge Dodge competes strongly with the Ford Explorer and large GM crossovers on their own terms.”

    I’m not familiar with the Explorer, and will leave that to Nullo.

    From the picture, it’s to have roughly the exterior size as a Buick Enclave, but loses 6″ of interior height. The Buick is clearly larger inside, and sits lower, which are it’s primary virtues – actual full-size minivan interior, capacity & volume. Hence, the extra 30-odd cu ft cargo capacity.

    Also, I expect the Buick rides better and is quieter, yes?

    • 0 avatar

      The Enclave isn’t as roomy as a minivan, but is roomier than the Durango (as noted in the review). Ride quality is tough to call. The Buick is better in some aspects, while the Dodge is better in others. Overall I found the Dodge more pleasant to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I haven’t had a chance to drive or sit in the new Durango yet. I haven’t had any customers tell me they were cross shopping the Explorer against the Durango either though, the Pilot, Lambdas, MDX and Highlander seem to be the more common vehicles people mention they are also looking at.

      I have had one person tell me he was looking at the new Durango while also looking at an Expedition, and that makes a little more sense to me. The fuel economy on this I think is going to be the killer for many shoppers. 16/23 for the 2wd V6 model isn’t bad for what it is and the size, but all of the crossover-type vehicles in this class do better (then again, the Durango does better than the Expedition or Tahoe, so maybe Chrysler should market against those). I see the Durango succeeding with the buyers that need to tow, or who are more traditional and like the truckier feel and RWD drivetrain.

      • 0 avatar
        Z71_Silvy

        The Durango will succeed with people who want a stylish, quality vehicle with some soul and attitude.

        It’s not the bland/boring crossover that has become the poster child for the segment.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        Chrysler has proven that there are sales to be had from offering old school traditionally American style big RWD cars, and updating/modernizing the old school American big RWD SUV could draw in the traditionalists who value the rumble of the V8 and the menacing RWD stance that the Durango provides. There’s probably also some business to be had from those who need the extended tow capability of a vehicle like this.

        When it comes to 7 passenger vehicles like this though, at least in my experience, most are purchased by families, and the wife usually controls the purchase. I’ve found that these wives and mothers tend to be a bit more pragmatic than emotional in how they choose these vehicles. Style is obviously important, but macho-man styling isn’t necessarily a drawback here, women seem to like that as much as men do in cars. The higher step in, lower amount of passenger space, and lower fuel economy will all be major hurdles however. Vehicles like the Explorer, Lambdas, Pilot, etc, all do a good job of offering almost-minivan utility for carting the kids around while also checking that all-important ‘doesn’t look like a minivan or station wagon’ box. What a lot of people want isn’t an actual SUV, but something that looks and feels like a SUV, but drives like a car, and stores people and stuff more like a minivan.

      • 0 avatar
        Z71_Silvy

        Vehicles like the Explorer, Lambdas, Pilot, etc, all do a good job of offering almost-minivan utility

        But Ford said the Flex was their minivan replacement……

  • avatar
    Tommy Boy

    Unfortunately the high-beltline / small window “styling” is present here. Not as bad as some other current vehicles, but still there.

    WHEN will manufacturers get off of this fad and return to vehicles from which the driver has good visibility, i.e., “situational awareness?”

    • 0 avatar
      SP

      All you will see of the soccer-mom is 8 fingertips peeking over the rim of the wheel.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I hope I die first. The “small windows” are just about the perfect size. Why would anyone need anything bigger and uglier?

      • 0 avatar
        Matzel

        You and me both.

        I drive a Chrysler 300 and have no problems with the windows what-so-ever. I love the look of the car and the feel of sitting inside/driving it. For those who love large windows, there are mini vans, I guess.

        Do larger windows equal higher safety? Is there a study that shows cars with smaller windows are more likely to crash?

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      Some of that is driven by increased rollover standards. That being said, I recently drove a 2011 Grand Cherokee, and was stunned at how terrible the rear visibility was. Without a backup camera, pulling out of a driveway in reverse is just about impossible.

  • avatar

    It’s too soon to have reliability stats on the new Durango, but TrueDelta has some initial information on the related new Jeep Grand Cherokee, and it’s not promising. Some of the reported repairs involve the air suspension not available on the Dodge, though. Exclude those and it’s about average so far.

    To assist with the Car Reliability Survey, with just about any car:

    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    That was the most negative, positive review I have ever read.

    Nice to hear that the Explorer is being seen for what it is (weak effort and a weak result). I am a bit disappointed that the dramatic change between the 2010 Chrysler products (or 2009 for the Durango) is not as emphasized as it should be. For instance, people to love to harp on something rather minimal like the 5-speed…but seem to gloss over the fact that with their last dollar, Chrysler did an extensive refresh on their entire lineup for 2011 and moved their vehicles from bargain basement to top of the class.

    Sure they may not have the “shock and awe” that the Ford appliances have with their technology blitz…but they way I see it…Ford is getting panned for their terrible SYNC and MyFord touchy/MyLincoln touchy system, quality issues, vehicles that are trading function for form, and high prices. Chrysler is avoiding ALL of that.

    Kudos to Chrysler. They get it…and with their current line of products, look to be the strongest of the big three automakers.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      You know if I was allowed to have an opinion I would probably say something about the above post.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        Mike: Having an opinion is one thing, riding the same tired (and very lopsided) horse is another! Thank God for the fact that we live in America and can express our opinion, but it gets a little tiring when it becomes completely predictable (Ford=suck)!

        Ford made a decision to move the Explorer into “crossover” territory…so be it. What quantitative data exists to show that it is a “weak effort and weak result?” I’d like to see factual data on quality issues…and yes, Ford has decided to take a different approach on hi-tech content (function)…time will tell if it’s an approach that the consumer is in agreement with.

        And feature for feature, maybe somebody (Michael?) can do a quick summary of how a comparably equipped Explorer prices out compared to that of GM and Chrysler’s offerings…

      • 0 avatar

        Did this in the review. Acadia > Explorer > Durango V6 in price. Adjusting for features makes the Explorer and Durango V6 really close, but then not everyone will find value in the Explorer’s additional technology.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        That price order makes perfect sense.

        However, as this is a Dodge, not a Jeep, wouldn’t it make more sense to compare with Chevy?

        Chevy / Ford / Dodge
        Jeep & Ram / GMC
        Chrysler / Buick / Lincoln

        Something like that?

      • 0 avatar

        The Durango had some very upscale features that you can’t get on any GM crossover, including dynamic cruise control and power adjustments for the steering wheel (which you can’t even get on an Escalade). So I thought the GMC was a better match.

      • 0 avatar
        rbmojo

        I can have an opinion … Chrysler ‘gets it’? Are you kidding me? Not much is appealing about this vehicle. In the immortal words of the Who ‘won’t get fooled again’. Bad products, high depreciation, low mileage, huge weight, and a stank that will attach itself to your dignity for years to come …

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      I’d like to see factual data on quality issues

      Straight from the horses (literally) mouth:

      http://www.autoblog.com/2011/06/03/mulally-facing-pressure-to-fix-ford-fix-tech-and-quality-glitche/

  • avatar
    Zackman

    At first glance, it reminds me of a Toyota 4 Runner.

    I hope this lives up to the interior improvements – not only the Durango, but the entire line of Chrysler vehicles, Fiat or not, for their own good.

    Nice review.

  • avatar

    Wow, that is a seriously slim front overhang. It makes the back end look too long in comparison.

    • 0 avatar

      The back end looks a little stretched, but this was undoubtedly done to fit the third row and a usable amount of cargo space behind it. A short front overhang is usually seen as a good thing. Can’t have one with a conventional FWD powertrain.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        Sure you can.

        You do it like this, front to back:
        1. Grille
        2. Radiator
        3. Front Diff & Trans
        4. Engine
        5. Firewall

        Packaging and F/R weight distribution is long-hood like a BMW, but with better interior space.

        Can’t do AWD, tho.

      • 0 avatar

        There’s a reason I said “conventional FWD powertrain.”

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        The Audi A5 doesn’t have a very big overhang, yet it manages both FWD and AWD. I believe it still counts as FWD rather than the front-mid-engine described SVX pearlie, though.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        @Michael:

        That’s a perfectly conventional FWD engine & Trans – the only difference is that it’s mounted S-N vs N-S.

        More carmakers should do this, as it pushes the engine block back while improving F/R balance.

        ____

        @th009:

        Audi stylists have done an exceptionally good job of making the front overhang look smaller than it actually is.

        Also note that Audi marketing *NEVER* shows a straight side or top view that makes it obvious.

        But look for yourself:

        http://www.topcargallery.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Hot-Girls-and-Cars-Audi-A5-and-hotgirl-Desktop-Wallpaper.jpg

        The Audi front overhang is still pretty substantial because the engine sits in front of the front axle.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        Yep, there is more overhang on those Audis than they first appear to have. I was looking at my buddy’s ’92 Vigor, and found that the centerline of cylinder #3 in the longitudinal I-5 is just barely ahead of the centerline of the front axle. I was interested in how my other buddy’s ’11 S4 compares, since it also seems to have a fairly long hood. So I popped the hood and was surprised to find that the entire V6 is ahead of the front axle!

      • 0 avatar

        GM had a concept car years ago with the powertrain set up like SVX describes. The designers really wanted to do it. Going way back, Cords put the differential in front.

        The early 1990s Legend and Vigor had an unusual configuration that put the differential next to the engine.

        Recent Audis do put the differential between the engine and transmission. Before both the engine AND the transmission were ahead of the axle.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    “And, if the kids back there get out of line, there’s a button on the dash to whack them on the back of the head with the headrest.”

    Dear Lord, if my wife ever hears about this feature, there’s going to be a brand new gas hog in my driveway whether I like it or not. Better enjoy my four-banger with stick while I can.

    • 0 avatar

      Many Mercedes and a few other imported luxury cars have this feature, but this is the first time I’ve seen it in a domestic.

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        Mercedes rear headrests fold backwards – you can’t whack anyone with them.

        Volvo headrests, on the other hand, can be used to whack passengers.

      • 0 avatar

        You’re certainly right about the Mercedes sedans. But perhaps this is true of Volvo sedans as well? With an SUV they have to fold forwards or they’d be on top of the load floor.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        My Volvo V70 headrests do indeed fold forward, but I have no way to whack passengers from the driver seat. Each seat has its own manual release button.

        It is very nice though – with the seats folded down I get a completely flat load floor. I was crushed when I saw photos of the new A6 Avant with the seats folded – nowhere close to being flat. What a great way to ruin a wagon. Even GM got it right in the 80s – my mom’s late-80s Oldsmobile had fold-flat seats.

  • avatar
    BoredOOMM

    “And, if the kids back there get out of line, there’s a button on the dash to whack them on the back of the head with the headrest.”

    It is high time that someone besides Surburban Chevrolet adopts The Trunk Monkey!

    It will be interesting to see what the sales for 2011 show for the New Dodge.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    5400lbs?! What do they make these things out of, depleted Uranium??

    Having had the previous gen Durango as a rental a couple times, there was nowhere to go but up. But as always, I completely fail to see the point of this entire class of vehicle. All the worst features of minivans and luxo-barges, with none of the advantages of either.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The weight is excessive, but that’s the price of sharing a platform with Mercedes. While I don’t personally want a full sized SUV, they do have their advantages. A friend has a Sequoia that we use to tow his car to track days. Using an SUV instead of a pickup gives us a place to lock up all the tools, parts, and refreshments we bring. Since it is based on a light truck, it also does an excellent job towing a couple tons. The gas mileage even remains in the teens.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Same weight as pretty much any other full-size RWD 3-row hauler.

      1970s Ford LTD Country Squire (400 cid V-8)
      2010s Chevy Traverse / GMC Acadia / Buick Enclave
      2010s Mercedes R-klasse (5.0l V-8)

      etc, etc.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Does anyone know when the Jeep (Grand?) Wagoneer version of this truck is coming?

  • avatar

    I haven’t seen one of these in the flesh yet, but the photos have been fantastic so far. I like the aggressive boxy shape, and the stance and prescence. It looks like a shooting brake on stilts. For urban duties, I think lowering the ride height would fill out those wheel arches much better.

    The rear looks too much like a Grand Cherokee. Not that it’s unattractive, but a bit more differentiation would’ve been nice.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      @jollyjerry, Aggressive boxy shape? I would have rather used the word “nondescript.” I think the design has less character than the new Passat …

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The front end is certainly agressive. Dodge hit a homerun with the forward-canted crosshair grill used in this and the Ram trucks, it manages to look sporty, mean, modern, and classic all at the same time.

        I like the side profile as well, it’s an exercise in restraint, just enough curve to break up the slab sides and bring the lines from the front all the way through to help reduce overall visual length a bit.

        I even like the inside. Chrysler’s new interiors are beyond just improvements, their competitive with the best in the class. The use of the chrome rings might be pushing the bounds of taste, and that button halfway down on the side of the driver’s door looks oddly placed like an afterthought, but for the most part it looks like a very pleasant place to spend some time.

      • 0 avatar
        Roundel

        Design is of course subjective, while you think that the new Passat and this Durango lack character, I say they are handsome classic designs that will age well… certainly unlike some designs from certain automakers right now.
        The truck looks fantastic in pictures and makes competitors (like the QX56 for example) look downright goofy and contrived.

    • 0 avatar

      Those buttons on the door are for the seat memory. In my experience these never include lumbar.

      Oddly, I had no trouble comfortably adjusting the same feature in the Journey. One thing that baffles me is why auto makers use totally different seats in different vehicles.

  • avatar
    Advo

    The ‘old’ Sebring had the worst lumbar support – it was way too much for me even in its least setting. The seats also had the narrowest backrest of anything I’ve driven.

    I hope that the Durango’s isn’t as bad as that. It should be fine once it’s adjusted for the driver’s comfort, but if it’s too hard to adjust then that could be a problem for families where both parents frequently need to drive around the kids. It doesn’t sound like there is a memory setting for lumbar.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I sat in a Durango at the dealer while my Challenger was having it’s oil changed and I was very comfortable. If I was looking at one of these vehicles though, I would buy the Grand Cherokee. I don’t need or want a third row of seats and I would like to be able to walk behind it with my garage door down.

  • avatar

    I noticed Chrysler put the MYGIG Navigation Unit in this car. Too bad they couldn’t put in the Uconnect Touch because that would have helped made this car an even better deal.

  • avatar
    obbop

    “Citadel”

    Wondering why a more pertinent nomenclature was not selected.

    With the era we exist within I believe “Compound” or “Bunker” would relate more to modern-day events and occurrences.

    Save “Regime” for the highest-end most expensive model.

    Of course, “Shanty” would adorn the stripper model.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Good grief where are supposed to mount a reciever hitch on this truck???? Every “Old School” Tahoe BTW has one mounted at the factory along with a transmission temperature gage. Sorry, but you strip all the towing utlitlity away from one of these things like Ford did w/Explorer and what are you left with? Beats the heck out of me????….LOL

    Long live the BOF Chevy Tahoe that still has the ability to do some serious towing when you need it to. And offers identical or better fuel economy.

    “Old School” Carlson Fan

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      I would assume that the rear bumper cap has a cutout for the hitch if you order one with the towing pacakge.

      This thing looks to me a LOT like a jacked-up redo of the late Dodge Magnum wagon.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Is it me or does the tan and black interior look ugly and dated in this? Why can’t we have some nice soft earth tone colors make there way into today’s bland boring appliances. The exteriors have nice colors but we don’t sit on the outside of the vehicle. Agree about the Traverse and Acadia having worse interiors but overall I like the Enclaves the best with nicer two-tone hues but still lacking any pleasant color choices. I am so sick of tan, gray and charcoal! It was so refreshing sitting in a 2011 Sonata with the wine colored seats and trim.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    At $4.00 gasoline I just cannot see anyone buying one of these over a much more efficient crossover. Probably why I haven’t seen one on the road yet either. Sure, it can tow, but who really tows 7,000 pounds? Most boats weigh much less. I see this as a low volume seller while the crossovers remain the sales kings, improved interior or not.

    As for body on frame SUV’s, the Toyota 4Runner is still around and not supersized either. Quite frankly I liked the days of SUV’s being reasonable sized and not wannabe minivians.

    • 0 avatar

      I suspect that the 4Runner is larger than you realize–about the same size as the Grand Cherokee. It has also grown over the years.

    • 0 avatar
      Tommy Boy

      I used to like the 4Runner, but the current one is even worse than the Durango when it comes to the high belt-line / gun-slit windows fad. In fact, it looks uncomfortable like a Hummer H2 ripoff.

      Here’s hoping that Toyota’s next-gen 4Runner:

      1) Gets back to the (almost) cost won’t let us diminish quality engineering the Toyota was once known for; and

      2) A non-cheapened, interior; and

      3) Not de-contented in general; and

      3) Styling without fads (such as high belt-line / gun-slit windows; and

      4) A small diesel (without urea or other BS environmental add-ons).

      I know that this is wishful thinking, particularly since we appear to be entering another 1970’s malaise era of increasing environmentalist dictates and inflation-stagflation induced cost-cutting and corner-cutting … but a guy can dream, can’t he?

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Not all of the crossovers are really all that efficient in the real world. Karesh himself has noted that his Taurus X gets around 15-16 MPG in town if memory serves.

    • 0 avatar
      MrRams27

      OMG! The Durango is a crossover not a SUV. This review failed to mention that simple fact. The Durango is just like the other CUVs except it’s RWD.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Sure, it can tow, but who really tows 7,000 pounds? Most boats weigh much less.”

    Your obviously not a boater. Many trailer boats(and RV’s) tip the scales at 4-5K easy. Cars/trucks aren’t the only thing that have gotten bigger and heavier over the years. Remember tow ratings don’t include passengers or gear in the vehicle. Plus they are born in the Marketing, not Engineeering department.

    “As for body on frame SUV’s, the Toyota 4Runner is still around and not supersized either.”

    It also doesn’t offer better fuel economy than a full sized Tahoe. Just less room and towing ability.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    Most people I know that trailer boats come in well under 5000# with 18′ fiberglass models inc. motor & trailer. Even lighter for aluminum boats.

    Point is, if you have something big & heavy to trailer I doubt the Durango is going to be on your short list. There are other better options for that. Dodge’s failure here is to not make this vehicle as 100% fuel efficient as they could have, tow capacity be damned. Just my 2 cents, but I’d wager the MPG #’s on that window sticker cause more people to walk than anything else.

  • avatar
    windswords

    “… quite ironically, it’s based on a Mercedes platform.”
    “… It also feels less massive and bulky than the platform donor Mercedes GL-Class…”

    This is becoming a common misconception, like the 300/Charger being based on an old E Class platform.

    From Allpar’s page on the Grand Cherokee:

    ‘Chief Engineer Phil Jansen wrote: “We started developing Grand Cherokee as DaimlerChrysler and leveraged our partnership with Mercedes. While there are some common componentry that we share, the vehicle in platform is truly a Jeep.” ‘

    To further illustrate, from Allpar’s page on the Durango:

    “Benchmarked against premium performance SUVs, Durango has a unibody structure consisting of 52% advanced, high-strength steels; it integrates the suspension with the body, reducing flex when compared with the previous body-on-frame design. More than 5,500 welds and more than 4,100 mm of arc welding contribute to torsional stiffness levels greater than the Mercedes-Benz GL. Every path that leads to the interior is sealed in one or more ways and joints are made as tight as possible by using sealer between panels, which expands during the paint process. A double wall separates the engine bay and the cabin to limit the noise.”

    If it was from a GL platform then it wouldn’t boast better torsional stiffness.

    • 0 avatar

      Neither one of your statements means that the Durango and GC aren’t based on the Mercedes platform. Especially not the latter. Manufacturers regularly redesign a car on an existing platform and improve torsional rigidity in the process.

      As for the first statement, of course they’re going to say it’s truly a Jeep. The Durango is definitely on the same platform as the GC. So is the Durango also “truly a Jeep?” A platform is just a basic starting point.

      My understanding remains that these SUVs are much more closely related to Mercedes than the LX is.

      • 0 avatar
        windswords

        ‘So is the Durango also “truly a Jeep?”’

        Yes. Much more than it is a Mercedes. And the Mercedes? It’s much more of a Jeep then they will ever admit.

  • avatar
    derek533

    “The design could hardly be simpler, and some areas like the center console appear plain. With no racy curves and no fancy graphics”

    And that’s a good thing. IMO whenever a manufacturer tries to gussy up an interior, it just ends up looking cheap. On the other hand, a nice, simple design speaks volumes to me and this interior is just as nice as any mid-level luxury vehicle’s interior.

    As a new owner of a ’11 Chrysler T&C, it really is amazing what Chrysler has done in just one year with all of their interior improvements.

  • avatar
    360joules

    This vehicle is aimed at me and I am interested. Our family has a 98 4runner with 190,000 miles on it. In the Pacific NW we are occasionally off road and need ground clearance. The wife uses it to drive to work and it does so with monotonous regularity. We periodicaly tow 1800-5000 pound loads…and now the kids are taller and I am 30 pounds heavier (in spite of dawn patrol workouts). This rig and the Jeep Cherokee have caught my eye. I rode in a new 4Runner during the county fair traveling circus and while I was impressed with the technology the cost startled me and the perhaps-dated they don’t make them like used to concerns crossed my mind. The fact that running the 8 would give me real world advantages against a wundrmotr 6 also have crossed my mind. That plus a deblinged/unTokyobynight instrument panel is appealing. If the new Chrysler means better handling dynamics and smarter (de-cluttered) interiors, I’m interested. That someone like me who was raised with imports and is in my demographic is blogging about a Chrysler shows swiftness of change. My teen years were spent with imports that regularly exceeded 100k miles with monotony (even the Trooper II with craptastic 6). That buyers like me are sniffing around this rig, the JGC, the Charger, the 300C, shows that maybe all the labor of the f@$cks inMichigan have been vain.

  • avatar
    BlackxCat

    I have had two Gen 1 Durangos, one was an R/T and loved it other then it felt like my Dakota R/T ride. Just got a 2012 Citadel for the wife since the old R/T was breaking down a lot with over 150K miles, she rides as nice as the Benz. It is loaded and has the only four options available in her. Inside working the gear is the same as my CL65 Benz and a few I do not have and need to learn. Tried to push the Wife to a GL450, but the wife was not having none of that, see likes the smaller size and wants to have three sets of seats. We are both happy with the Citadel. Only thing I have on her is the V-12 BiTurbo and namesake. Are Citadel has the 5.7l Hemi and is nice and who need 604HP and 740 foot pounds of Balls in an SUV. BTW, not talked about much is, Dodge offers a life time warranty now. I keep cars a long time and jumped on it.

  • avatar
    BlackxCat

    BTW, I towed a Ranger Z-21 bass boat with the R/T many miles and that boat is heavy. I got a RAM SRT-10 when the Wife was in my butt about taking her SUV, not the best towing truck but met my needs for speed and towing. When we travel to my home (900 miles away) and SUV or CUV works well, but we need room, I have grand kids and more family. Put down the seats and chill. We have had family of seven or many times on these visits traveling and some times need another car for everyone to share the joy. All the plus and minus people have about this vehicle means nothing for me since it now drives like a car and does the same things. Durango was a freak and some of us are freaks and it has a place. Works for me, Soccer Moms?


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