Ace of Base: 2020 Dodge Durango SXT

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Let it be known that, in calendar year 2019, one is able to buy a large purple rear-drive SUV with near-as-makes-no-difference 300 horsepower for about the same starting price as a Camry Hybrid. It shares showroom space and DNA with psychotic coupes bearing 800 horsepower and, in a fit of brilliant marketing, is the recipient of Power Dollars.

Anyone who says the golden age of automobiles is any time other than right friggin’ now needs to have their head examined.

For 2020, the Durango SXT serves as that model’s base trim, starting at half a rent payment over thirty grand. The truck is rear-drive at this price, with all-wheel drive a $2,600 option. The base Durango seats five and is powered by the they-put-that-in-everything Pentastar V6. Your author has been running this too-common engine for seven years in a Dodge Charger and can report cheap maintenance and easy 30 mpg highway cruising mileage.

Eighteen-inch wheels are wrapped in 265/60 rubber and the door handles are body color, both of which hide your penny-pinching decision to scoop an SXT. Projector fog lamps fill those fascia buckets instead of leaving them sad and blank like so many other base vehicles. The bright LED “racetrack” tail lamps continue to amuse, many years after their introduction. It is a tremendous styling flourish that must have taken several attempts to get past the wretched beancounters.

Air conditioning is of the three-zone variety, a boon to family harmony. Pedals aren’t adjustable for the driver but the steering wheel is, as you’d expect. Infotainment is handled by the smaller of the three Uconnect units available, this one spanning seven inches instead of the 8.4 found elsewhere. Ram’s jumbotron remains a dream. At least it isn’t flanked by sad-looking buttons.

Push-button start and keyless entry is also standard, something I normally wouldn’t mention except for the fact that I dearly miss that feature on my own 2018 Sierra SLE 4×4 (GM found wiring hard back then, I guess). It is a bit of a faff to mess with keys all day, especially when one’s hands are full. Yes, first world problems and all that.

Today’s post comes with a caveat, of course, because the SXT is only an Ace of Base pick if one ignores the SRT trim. Packing a 6.4-liter Hemi making 475 horsepower and scampering to 60 mph from rest in just 4.4 seconds, that one is clearly the Durango to have if you’re part of the money-no-object crowd. But for the rest of us, this SXT is the best of its lot.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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  • Gtem Gtem on Sep 19, 2019

    Anyone do any towing of about 5000-6000lb with one of these? Curiuous to hear how the rear IRS does with it in terms of squat and handling loaded up.

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    • NoID NoID on Sep 19, 2019

      I've ridden shotgun in a Durango SRT towing 7000+ pounds and it didn't squat excessively or feel squirrely, but that was with load-leveling bars. Pulled like a champ, but 475 hearse purrs and a 3.70 axle ratio makes for easy pulling.

  • Cimarron typeR Cimarron typeR on Sep 19, 2019

    I've only ridden but not driven in a Hellcat and mid level v6 300S. I get it.This a legitimately solid platform, I've owned a 2nd gen ML. Even if the only thing they did to the platform was shorten the wheelbase on the Chally they'd have my business.

  • Stephen My "mid-level" limited edition Tonino Lambo Ferraccio Junior watch has performed flawlessly with attractive understated style for nearly 20 years. Their cars are not so much to my taste-- my Acura NSX is just fine. Not sure why you have such condescension towards these excellent timepieces. They are attractive without unnecessary flamboyance, keep perfect time and are extremely reliable. They are also very reasonably priced.
  • Dana You don’t need park, you set auto hold (button on the console). Every BMW answers to ‘Hey, BMW’, but you can set your own personal wake word in iDrive. It takes less than 5 minutes to figure that that out, btw. The audio stays on which is handy for Teams meetings. Once your phone is out of range, the audio is stopped on the car. You can always press down on the audio volume wheel which will mute it, if it bothers you. I found all the controls very intuitive.
  • ToolGuy Not sure if I've ever said this, or if you were listening:• Learn to drive, people.Also, learn which vehicles to take home with you and which ones to walk away from. You are an adult now, think for yourself. (Those ads are lying to you. Your friendly neighborhood automotive dealer, also lying to you. Politicians? Lying to you. Oh yeah, learn how to vote lol.)Addendum for the weak-minded who think I am advocating some 'driver training' program: Learning is not something you do in school once for all time. Learning how to drive is not something that someone does for you. It is a continuous process driven by YOU. Learn how to learn how to drive, and learn to drive. Keep on learning how to drive. (You -- over there -- especially you, you kind of suck at driving. LOL.)Example: Do you know where your tires are? When you are 4 hours into a 6 hour interstate journey and change lanes, do you run over the raised center line retroreflective bumpers, or do you steer between them?
  • Mike Bradley Advertising, movies and TV, manufacturing, and car culture have all made speeding and crashing the ultimate tests of manhood. Throw in the political craziness and you've got a perfect soup of destruction and costs.
  • Lou_BC Jay Leno had said that EV's would be good since they could allow the continued existence of ICE cars for enthusiasts. That sentiment makes sense. Many buyers see vehicles as a necessary appliance.
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