Report: Dodge Durango Mild Hybrid to Manifest in 2020

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Despite the current-generation Dodge Durango seemingly having been put into production immediately after the solar protoplanetary disk focused enough cosmic debris to assemble our humble little planet, it still moves in decent volumes in the United States. Officially in service since MY2011 (a little more recent than previously stated), sales of the 3rd-gen Durango are still going strong near the end of its life cycle. Deliveries run about 65,000 per year. That’s roughly the same annual volume it’s had since a mild refresh in 2014, and rather impressive considering the model has gone largely unchanged — save for a few performance-focused updates in its later years.

Unfortunately, this heavyweight doesn’t offer idyllic fuel economy. It’s decent for a vehicle with a curb weight between 4,500 and 5,500 pounds, and I’m routinely impressed with the highway miles Dodge manages to eek out from its big V8s, but it’s not ambitious in an era where maximizing mileage is an almost mandatory pursuit. The best the Durango can muster is 19 city/26 highway with its entry-level Pentastar V6.

That is, until the mild-hybrid variant arrives in 2020.

Mopar Insiders recently reported seeing a finished version of the FCA and UAW contract agreement, gleaning some useful information about the automaker’s forthcoming product. According to the documents, the Durango will remain in production for the foreseeable future (along with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, naturally). FCA is also planning to dump $3 billion into Michigan’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant over the next four years (where both are manufactured). While the purpose of those dollars haven’t been answered, some of it will undoubtedly go toward readying the factory to install mild-hybrid units.

From Mopar Insiders:

While we don’t know which engine will be powering the mild hybrid version, it would be a safe bet to assume either the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 or 5.7-liter HEMI V8 will be under the hood. Last year, Ram debuted mild-hybrid versions of the all-new Ram 1500 in both Pentastar and 5.7-liter HEMI guise under the eTorque moniker. One of these powertrains or even possibly both will likely find their way under the Durangos hood, as like the Ram, the Durango has a rear-wheel-drive architecture.

As the powertrain layout is similar in both the Ram and the Durango, adding the mild-hybrid system should be a relatively easy task for FCA engineers. The eTorque system consists of a Motor Generator Unit (MGU) that replaces the alternator on the front of the engine and is connected to the crankshaft with a large drive belt, along with a 48-volt battery pack the size of a suitcase placed in the vehicle. With this relatively simple system, FCA engineers have extracted a lot of benefits available to the end-user.

Before you fall out of your chair thinking you’ll be getting a super-powerful SUV averaging 30 mpg, eTorque is only said to deliver 2 additional miles to the gallon on 5.7-liter, Hemi-equipped Rams. The same should be true with the Durango (and possibly Grand Cherokee), with mild hybridization improving things by roughly 3 mpg on the 3.6-liter V6. That’s a small but meaningful improvement, even if it won’t help save enough dough to keep the farm from foreclosure.

Our own Matthew Guy found little to complain about while testing the system on the Ram 1500, praising the functionality of its stop/start feature (which can mercifully be shut off).

If the debut is supposed to take place in 2020, expect Dodge to have an announcement in the works already. It probably won’t be long until we hear from the factory about this. FCA cannot presently comment on the matter, but has previously mentioned it has broader aspirations for the eTorque system than simply leaving it to Ram. There are already rumors that the next-gen Charger and Challenger will also utilize a mild-hybrid unit.

[Images: FCA]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Mike-NB2 Mike-NB2 on Dec 12, 2019

    I have steelies and winter tires on my '19 GLI but wasn't able to drop a rim size due to brake clearance. So I'm stuck with the same aspect ratio for the winter tires. But if I could, I would have dropped to 17" and upped the aspect ratio.

  • HotPotato HotPotato on Dec 14, 2019

    In my experience, these are driven by throbbing pricks who think driving is an opportunity to demonstrate their sociopathic nature. Deeply crappy people do not, in my experience, yearn for a hybrid. Then again, this is a bullshit alternator belt system, not even a legitimate hybrid, so whatever I guess.

  • 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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