“Vestige of a Dying Breed”
I spent my seminal driving years during a time that the SUV was being born and beginning to capture the hearts of the driving public. A time when the Ford Explorer reigned supreme and V8’s were the choice of engine when you wanted to ensure true luxury in your SUV. It was a time, when if you wanted to stand out trim levels like the Limited, Eddie Bauer, R/T were etched in your mind. It was during this time a muscular looking SUV debuted on the automotive scene. It harkened from the stables of the Penta Star, The Dodge Durango. Based on the Dakota mid-size pickup it had flared fenders and colour matched bumpers and grill. Under the long hood was housed the magnum V8.
Three generations and 22 years later the Durango has aged gracefully. It still holds at its core a sporty aggressive design, almost muscle car like and is arguably one of the best looking SUV’s on the market. It draws from its Charger sibling for design cues. It has an aggressive hunkered down stance with power bulges in the hood. The as tested Citadel Model represents the top tier luxury model for the Durango. Under the hood lies the optional 5.7L Hemi V8, producing a class leading 360 HP and 390 lb-ft of torque. A standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine rated at up to 295 HP and 260 lb-ft of torque is also available. The power is routed through an 8 speed transmission and directed to all 4 wheels with a real wheel bias. The exterior is highlighted by chrome accents around the grill and door handles. The rear of the Citadel is finished off with dual chrome tips moulded into the rear bumper.
Sliding into the inside you are greeted with top grain heated and ventilated Napa leather seats. The second row houses heated captain seats in our tester. The front dash is driver orientated with a clean setup and combination of traditional rotary dials and switches for primary climate control settings. The most prominent feature is a 10.1 inch infotainment screen. The systems utilizes Uconnect 5 which offers wireless Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay. The Uconnect systems is easily the most user-friendly interface in the industry allowing for quick and easy access to all functions in a GUI that is not cluttered or confusing.
The driving dynamics of the Citadel trim are geared towards comfort ensuring that those trips to the summer cabin and lake are met with relaxation. The Durango soaks up road imperfections admirably, however it sacrifices driver feedback and road feel. The Durango is a large vehicle, with three rows and nearly 4,700 lb curb weight you can feel the mass being moved while braking and cornering. Proper driving habits will return 10.9 L/100km (21.6 MPG) on a highway and 16.7 L/100km (14.1 MPG) in a city and with the optional Hemi you can tow up to 7,200 lbs.
The Durango represents an era of the SUV that is disappearing. It is one of a few three row SUV’s that offer the venerable V8. Its closest rival and top dog of its time, the Ford Explorer left the V8 long ago. With the push to electrification and hybrid power trains that help the environment, the smooth as silk V8 is an endangered species. The Durango presents in a more traditional design that is extremely attractive and muscular in appearance. If you wish to capture what the essence of the internal combustion engine is and can’t opt for the Hellcat or SRT Charger and Challenger the Durango is the one for you.