By on December 11, 2019

2018 Dodge Durango SRT

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.

2019 Ram 1500 – 3.6-liter V-6 with eTorque

[Images: FCA]

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33 Comments on “Report: Dodge Durango Mild Hybrid to Manifest in 2020...”

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I’d be interested in a full-fledged Grand Cherokee Hybrid someday. But this is a good development, methinks.

  • avatar

    It’s a bit deceptive to call eTorque a “hybrid,” as that nomenclature usually implies the vehicle can operate on any combination of electric or gas power. This is a gas car with a massive alternator/starter that’s powerful enough that it can drive the crank instead of the crank just driving it. Still an improvement in economy and low-speed starting power, and likely reliability, but not the same thing as full hybrids.

    • 0 avatar

      The first mass-market hybrid was the Honda Insight with Integrated Motor Assist, which was very much like a more substantial version of eTorque.

    • 0 avatar

      The article cites a 3mpg improvement on the V6 and a 2mpg improvement on the V8. IMO this isn’t even worth dealing with at all both for FCA and the buying public, I also doubt the additions to the drivetrain will make it more reliable over the long haul.

      What did Sergio say? Something to the effect of please don’t buy a 500e is costs me $14,000 every time you do?

      This is a redux but hopefully for less than 14K this time.

  • avatar

    “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…”

    8 years. The current Durango is 8 years old.

    It was updated in 2014, 5 years ago, with new front end, new rear end, new interior and new powertrains.

    It also saw updates in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. And it looks like it will be updated for 2020 as well.

  • avatar

    Supposedly its going body on frame eventually but I think that’s wishful thinking, although 65K units a year does warrant it.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know why they would go back to BoF for the Durango. It wouldn’t make any sense. The Grand Wagoneer maybe, but not the Durango/Grand Cherokee brothers.

      They could go full size BoF with a Power Wagon under an SUV body and I would buy that tomorrow. Well, maybe next week.

  • avatar

    A starter motor “hybrid” — okey dokey. The pace of innovation at some corporations is breathtaking.

    • 0 avatar

      Word on the street is they’re going to buy Faraday Future or at least the tech arm and scrap the rest.

      • 0 avatar

        I just looked this up, i hadn’t heard this before.

        I’d avoid FF like the plague, even if i were heading up a company with little to no proprietary EV R&D. I understand that making an entirely new, high-tech auto company eats mountains of money, but FF can make billions disappear with nothing to show for it. That’s not a mess I’d ever willingly take on. But it looks like FCA is also courting a company called Seres. So perhaps they feel the same as i do.

  • avatar

    Apparently, TTAC has a rule that no positive words shall be spoken about FCA, ever?

    “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).”

    So, he liked it, but thank God we can shut it off, because…?

    • 0 avatar

      “ So, he liked it, but thank God we can shut it off, because…?”

      Because start stop is the most useless technology since the advent of the pet rock.

    • 0 avatar

      “Apparently, TTAC has a rule that no positive words shall be spoken about FCA, ever?”

      Yes it is part of their MO. 8 years is apparently far too long for a vehicle to soldier on despite substantial updates yet they gush over the Ford Flex.

      Hypocrisy at it’s finest

    • 0 avatar

      “Apparently, TTAC has a rule that no positive words shall be spoken about FCA, ever?”

      FCA has a legitimate shot at becoming the number one sort-of-domestic automaker.

      Ford could be in serious trouble very soon depending on how Mock-E goes and how much money they have plowed into it and their failed “mobility” projects. Stay tuned.

      GM will probably continue to lose market share in USDM but I suspect will continue to focus on the PRCDM to compensate. Watching to see how GM rolls out its EV offerings will tell much on GM’s plans for USDM IMO. They will develop the models for PRC but if I had to guess, will not be offering many in USDM because they don’t make any money and born-again GM is focused on profitability.

  • avatar

    I think it’s very important to point out that FCA sells more LX Cars than Durangos. They sold just over 80,000 Chargers in 2018 and another 67,000 Challengers and 46,000 300s. By comparison, 66,000 Durangos were sold in 2018.

    Good numbers to be sure, but they do not justify cancelling the cars. Both the Charger and Challenger outsold the Durango individually. Combined it’s no contest.

    I feel I have to say this now. 56,000 Impalas were sold in 2018 versus 30,000 Envisions. Guess which one’s getting cancelled?

    • 0 avatar

      And the little turd Ecosport sold 54k units in 2018. Yet there’s (unfortunately) no talk of cancellation of that model.

    • 0 avatar

      Why don’t you add Grand Cherokee sales into your figures. The platform is shared much like the LX platform (it’s not even called the LX platform anymore but we will ignore that).

      For 2018, that represents 290K sales. For 2017 that was ~309,500 sales.

      • 0 avatar

        Because I was focused on Dodge? I guess we could add Ram sales too right? Anyway, not trying to be smart, I just don’t think it hurts to post a reminder of the strong sales from time to time.

        Yes, I know they do not sell to the level of the Grand Cherokee, few vehicles do. However, I strongly suspect that car sales thresholds have to be much higher to avoid being cancelled than CUVs. So do you think FCA is comparing LD and LA model sales to the Grand Cherokee and saying “hmmm, sales are low, maybe we should cut those?” In this climate, that honestly would not surprise me!

    • 0 avatar

      LX goes to 2025 watch and see. I’ve been saying it since 2017.

    • 0 avatar

      “I feel I have to say this now. 56,000 Impalas were sold in 2018 versus 30,000 Envisions. Guess which one’s getting cancelled?”

      Buick Envasion is assembled by SAIC in Shanghai and is likely more profitable even at less volume.

      • 0 avatar

        Fine, but that’s a different argument. I thought sedans were being cancelled because no one wants them anymore, not that a CUV is cheaper to build in China? But to your point, I suspect a lot of this is driven by a desire to channel the market into greater profitability, yes. Fewer choices, less complex manufacturing, less need to have cutting edge engineering (since CUVs are sold first for perceived utility, not for being top performers), higher profits per unit, and so on and so forth.

        • 0 avatar
          CKNSLS Sierra SLT

          There are some interesting numbers regarding sedans-
          Hyundai, for example, saw sales of its Elantra compact car increase 102% this November over last year. The brand has also introduced an all-new 2020 mid-size Sonata that — like the all-new Toyota Camry and Honda Accord introduced in 2018 — the automaker hopes will capture buyers who still want sedans.

          “There are 6.5 million car owners who do not have a successor sedan for them from their manufacturer. Forty-four percent of those say they want a sedan, so if you look at the raw numbers, there are still a lot of buyers out here,” Hyundai Vice President of Product Planning Mike O’Brien said at a media test of the new Sonata in Phoenix.

          • 0 avatar

            Japanese and Korean makes are definitely sticking with the sedan and small car. I guess if FCA does decide to cancel the Charger and Challenger for 2020 and try to push those buyers into a Grand Cherokee, that’s their right to do. I could buy a Kia Stinger GT, Genesis G70 3.3t, or Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400. I would live, albeit sans V-8 rumble, lol!

            My concern though is that this plan is pretty short-sighted and they’re going to be coming to us with their hands out, along with Ford and GM, once the market changes, which it eventually will.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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.

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