By on March 19, 2012

We were impressed with Dodge’s blue-collar Grand Cherokee when we tested it back in 2010, but we also noted that the vehicle’s success would be linked to fuel prices. Naturally, the story since then hasn’t been great: the Durango’s 2011 sales of 51,697 put it well behind the Grand Cherokee, Liberty, and Patriot. The humble Compass was only four thousand units behind, which says a lot about… something something rental fleets, I’m not actually sure what it says a lot about.

Mainstream America may no longer be willing to pay for macho street appeal with an endless supply of $4/gallon gasoline, but the public sector seems to have no such issue. Thus, we have the Dodge Durango Special Service.

Quoth the release:

Available in rear- or all-wheel drive, the Dodge Durango Special Service model comes with the following additional components designed for the rigors of daily fleet use: A heavy-duty brake package, heavy-duty battery, larger-output 220-amp alternator and heavy-duty water pump and engine oil cooler… Dodge Durango Special Service also has a customizable rear cargo area with under-floor storage compartments and additional storage in the side compartments. Further modifications include a special service interior dome lamp and headliner, spot lamp wiring prep and the deletion of the third row of seats for more cargo capacity. Even with the deletion of the third row, the second row still has separate air conditioning and heat controls.

One claim that seems to be missing: while Chevrolet claims that its Tahoe Police Package RWD models are “pursuit ready”, Dodge doesn’t seem to want to encourage cops to chase Broncos with Durangos in what would certainly be a veritable cavalcade, or perhaps rodeo, of unintentionally ironic references to the American West. A shame, really, because the Durango R/T I drove had no trouble breaking the 100-mph mark in freeway-grade curves. And once you’ve hogtied your little dogies, the adjustable rear-seat climate control can keep ’em cool.

The Durango Special Service: soon to be idling for hours in a freeway turnaround near you!

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29 Comments on “Durango, Now With Bacon...”


  • avatar
    GS650G

    When the taxpayer is paying the bills, fuel, maintenance, and customizing expense is not an issue. Perhaps a special division of each domestic can be dedicated to producing these types of cars (if it hasn’t been done yet)/

    • 0 avatar

      Id bet on the lame RWD(cheap) version for most. Not the the best for frozen, snowy days. Why is it impossible for cops or cabs for that matter to drive 1.6L Turbodiesels in NA? The whole V8 high-speed pursuit thing is SO fourty-years ago. Whats important is being able to do a U-turn on a city street in two seconds. And lets not forget about keeping those pension funds safe.

      • 0 avatar
        FJ60LandCruiser

        These will probably see service primarily in rural areas in the Southern states as Sherrif Deputy/Highway Patrol cars where their Tahoe bretheren are already in use and a bit of increased ground clearance for dirt road use and deep grassy hihgway medians is a plus. Not much ice down in dese here parts.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Vehicles driven by a driver that doesn’t own the car tend to get more abuse than owner driven cars. Trucks and cars with truck-like suspensions tend to survive things like driving over curbs and through grassy medians better than average passenger cars. In addition, only trucks and big cars have enough length to allow a wall to be added between the driver and potentially violent passengers.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        Sometimes every second counts when a police officer is on a call, it can mean life or death. That is one of the reasons they don’t use 1.6 liter turbodiesls. And have you ever seen a police car jump a curb to go through a field after a dangerous criminal, or fly across rough railroad tracks? etc. A front wheel drive police cruiser would be destroyed within a week around here.

      • 0 avatar

        Well NEVER know if we dont try. Here in Chicago sometimes every second does count and these huge hunks of Detroit iron that take 10 seconds minimum to perform a Y turn are way behind a more agile car that can pull a U-ey in two. And when theres more than a couple of inches of snow, sorry RWD still sucks. And have ya driven a 1.6L front-drive turbodiesel lately??? Ever? They aint no 240Ds.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        Nope, can’t say that I have driven a 1.6 turbo diesel. But I don’t need to to know that it wouldn’t last running over the rough stuff. No fwd car today will, the transaxle & other parts are vulnerable. Our police dept. brought in a few impalas last year, and they are not holding up. A few years back they bought a handful of tauruses and they didn’t last either.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      This is not rocket science: just watch and episode of “Cops” and see the beating a police cruiser takes. There is no way a standard FWD car could take the abuse police cruisers have to endure. They are not designed for it and the manufacturers don’t market these cars for police use for many good reasons.

      In addition, the idea of squeezing a cop with holster belt and kevlar vest, as well as all the dash mounted electronics, in a compact car for a 12 hour shift is kind of asinine.

      The Durango is more compact than the Tahoe and the new design probably handles better. Not a bad substitute for the retiring Panther.

      • 0 avatar
        jimbobjoe

        A lot of that beating is simply because they can drive the vehicles that way. It’s the enforcement culture.

        Moving to more efficient vehicles would be a culture change. But just about every other country in the world has police in smaller more efficient vehicles, and they don’t seem to be crying out for our vehicles.

        Why is it that European police have no problems with the smaller cars? Training? Professionalism?

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        Jimbo, it’s a matter of common sense. When an officer is chasing someone do you think he really has time to slow down over bumps and things or go around potholes? And how do you know how the police fare in their small cars in europe? Just because they use them doesn’t mean that they are good police cars. Besides over in europe the police mainly bang around on tiny streets chasing other small cars.

      • 0 avatar
        jimbobjoe

        @Moparman426W

        1.) We could just use the money saved on fuel…to repair the roads. :P

        2.) If there are bumps and potholes, those affect the car being pursued as well.

        3.) Most agencies are trying to discourage pursuits anyway. Arguably, a less capable car is an excellent way of doing that.

        4.) Old European cities certainly do have the smaller streets, but many of them are quite comparable to what you’d fine in the US.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        Joe, they are only thinking of doing away with pursuits in non-life or death situations. For example, what if a person breaks into someone’s house and has a knife to their throat? Why am I even bothering…….

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Well with the death of the Crown Victoria the Charger has begun to make in roads among state law enforcement here in New Mexico (the new body style Charger is especially menacing in monochromatic black with opaque windows) and I could see the Durango making some sales as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      I don’t know about anywhere else, but with the death of the Crown Vic, I’m seeing fewer and fewer ex-Police models appearing on the used market. Indeed I spoke to my neighbour who is a Police Officer in the Vancouver PD and he told me that the department were hoarding all the older cars and damaged ones in order to keep the current fleet on the road for as long as possible.
      Oh well, Ford’s loss, Chrysler’s gain?

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        I think it depends on the department and their policies. The few sellers I know of on eBay who specialize in ex-fleet and government vehicles seem to have just about as many Crown Vics as ever.

      • 0 avatar
        acuraandy

        @sinister:

        What about the neo-Caprice PPV?

        -sigh- considering i’ve seen ONE in service, that’s about as productive as saying, ‘What about Brett Fav-rah?’

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        Sort of like CHP when they learned that 78 would be the last year for the 440 C bodies they stocked up on them.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    There isn’t a reason this vehicle cannot be added into a mix for public service vehicles. The old days of an entire fleet of vehicles being the exact brand and model is over.

  • avatar
    86er

    Whilst searching my state-run provincial auto insurer’s proposed new insurance rates, I noticed that they’re going to be increasing premiums on police *cars* by 11%, while reducing premiums on police *trucks* by 7.2%.

    I predict to see many more Tahoe PPV, Ford F-Series, and perhaps even Durango SS (!) in the near future.

  • avatar
    scrubnick

    “So it has the cop battery, cop water pump, cop oil cooler, cop dome light…”

    It’s just not as impressive, is it?

  • avatar
    svenmeier

    So this big and overweight SUV is only available with a gas-guzzling V6 and an even thirstier V8? Gas might be cheap in the US but I just cannot see the logic behind using such fuel inefficient cars. Taxpayers money and the taxpayers don’t mind apparently…

    • 0 avatar
      jimbobjoe

      They don’t mind…yet. I suspect we will see a shift in the long run. Since I don’t live in East LA nor does the Autobahn go through my county, I believe my local police could do just fine with a Toyota Camry Hybrid.

    • 0 avatar
      acuraandy

      @svenmeier:

      Us Yanks are into such vehicles because they are eventually decommissioned and auctioned to the public at a substantial discount compared to the used car market.

      And most have V8s! This market is the last best hope for ‘affordable’ muscle! See: Panther or Orca body Caprice (I still kick myself for not getting that ’95 LT1 state trooper car back in ’01!)

  • avatar
    benzaholic

    The two-tone paint job actually looks nice on these.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “It’s got a cop motor, a 440 cubic inch plant, it’s got cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks. It’s a model made before catalytic converters so it’ll run good on regular gas. What do you say, is it the new Bluesmobile or what?

  • avatar
    AJ

    That figures, they seem to like the Chrysler line. Chargers are now common around my area, and on the way to work I’ve even spotted a white 2011 RAM. That must be weird to get pulled over by a pickup truck?!

    • 0 avatar
      acuraandy

      In the northern ‘burbs of the Twin Cities MN State Patrol runs a couple of ’07ish Chargers (a black one and a silver one, both R/Ts); racing stripes, ‘Critical Habitat’ special eliteist license plates, about 25% tinted windows, the whole bit.

      The only things that give them away are the small shield on the passenger front door and the cherries after they light up. You would NEVER know they are a cop otherwise. Sneaky, sneaky…

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Our police dept. has a couple of F150’s, Rams and Durangos. They use them for transporting seized goods and the like.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Love the tagline. ‘Durango, now with bacon’. Brilliant.

    Just another set of headlights I have to remember. I’ll bet these will be popular up here in the Rust Belt…

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