Ace of Base: 2020 Dodge Durango SXT
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.
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