Advertisement2011 Dodge Durango Crew V6 AWD - Short Take Road TestThe V6 Durango offers the R/T’s sportiness without the harshness penalty.BY JON YANCA , PHOTOGRAPHY BY PATRICK M. HOEY
Photos (16)Highs and Lows
Highs:Attractive exterior, buttoned-down handling, efficient and handsome interior.
Lows:Late power delivery, transmission needs another ratio.Visit Our Buyer's Guide »Dodge Durango› Overview› Specifications› Price with Options› Photos & 360° View› Get a Free QuoteNews & Reviews2011 Dodge Durango R/T Hemi AWD - Short Take Road Test2011 Dodge Durango - Short Take Road Test2011 Dodge Durango - Official Photos and InfoDodge Teases 2011 Durango - Future Cars2012 Dodge Durango - SpiedThe Two-for-One Sales Approach - Car NewsDodge Durango Not Dead - Car News2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid / Chrysler Aspen Hybrid - First Drive ReviewDodge Durango Hemi RT Concept - Auto ShowsTop CompetitorsChevrolet TraverseFord ExplorerHonda PilotNissan PathfinderToyota HighlanderDownloadsTest Sheet
What Is It?
It’s the third-generation Dodge Durango, and it marks the nameplate’s return from the sabbatical it took for the 2010 model year. Built on a lengthened version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s unibody platform—instead of the old body-on-frame underpinnings of its forebears—the Durango retains a rear-drive layout, but a full-time all-wheel-drive system as tested here is an option on each of the five trims. We’ve already tested an entry-level rear-drive V-6 Durango and an all-wheel-drive V-8, but this is our first go with the more-affordable all-wheel-drive/V-6 combo.
How Does It Drive?
The Durango’s chassis delivers very impressive dynamics. At 5068 pounds, the SUV tested here is far from light, but it handles twists and turns with a fluid ease, remaining flat and composed as it challenges the laws of physics. Unlike most others in this segment, the Durango’s steering offers a good degree of feel, and the same can be said for the brake pedal. Not only is the Dodge an agile machine, but the ride, even on this example’s optional 20-inch wheels, was comfortable and well damped. We noted some dissatisfaction with the 20s worn by the V-8–powered R/T we previously tested, but without the stiffened and lowered suspension of that model, the 20s were not a problem.
Our only real gripe came with the five-speed automatic transmission, which is in dire need of at least one more forward gear. The 3.6-liter V-6’s 290-hp peak coincides with the 6400-rpm redline, and the 260-lb-ft torque peak occurs at a similarly high 4800 rpm. The wide spacing needed to stretch the five ratios and the transmission’s eagerness to upshift can strand the engine at the low end of the rev range without any power on tap. Around town, Durango drivers need a heavy right foot to keep the tranny in a low gear and keep things moving.
How Does It Stack Up?
If it’s hot sheetmetal you’re after, then the Durango should be at the top of your three-row-crossover list. We’d make the same recommendation for those buyers seeking a quiet, well-crafted interior with nice materials and an efficient layout that doesn’t overcomplicate the simple tasks of changing the temperature or radio station.
If expediency—or towing, a more likely application of power in a truck—is a priority, though, the all-wheel-drive Durango V-6 is at the other extreme. It would have placed near the back of the pack in our last round-up of three-row, AWD crossovers, with its 8.2-second run to 60 mph slotting just ahead of the test’s slowest, the Ford Flex SEL (8.4 seconds). But the Durango’s brakes, as we’ve noted in previous tests, are excellent. Its 178-foot stop from 70 mph would have been just two feet longer than that of the Mazda CX-9, which stopped the shortest in that test and is a Car and Driver crossover favorite. Over our time behind the wheel of the Durango, we returned 19 mpg, smack in the middle of the estimated 16/22 city/highway figures.
What’s the Cost?
Of the five trims (Express, Crew, Citadel, Heat, and R/T) offered on the 2011 Durango, the Crew is the second rung up the ladder. It’s very nicely equipped at $34,270, and AWD is a $2000 premium on top of that. Standard features include upscale items like keyless entry and ignition, a power liftgate, a 6.5-inch touch-screen infotainment display with 30 gigs of storage, Sirius satellite radio, Bluetooth, power front seats, and a back-up camera. After adding $295 for the Inferno Red Crystal Pearl paint and $5000 for the Crew Lux package—leather seats (heated in rows one and two), 20-inch wheels, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, navigation, rain-sensing wipers—our all-wheel-drive Crew V-6 totaled $41,565, which is par for the course of a large, luxurious family hauler. With its comfortable yet sporty dynamics complemented by a strong equipment list, the Durango Crew has few shortcomings. If Dodge can find a modern transmission with at least one more ratio, there’s little else to improve.Specifications
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 5-door wagon
PRICE AS TESTED: $41,565 (base price $36,270)
ENGINE TYPE: 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
Displacement: 220 cu in, 3604 cc
Power (SAE net): 290 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 260 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
Wheelbase: 119.8 in Length: 199.8 in
Width: 75.8 in Height: 70.9 in
Curb weight: 5068 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS:
Zero to 60 mph: 8.2 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 22.9 sec
Street start, 5–60 mph: 8.5 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 16.4 sec @ 88 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 112 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 178 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad*: 0.75 g
EPA city/highway driving: 16/22 mpg
C/D observed: 19 mpg
Subscribe to Car and Driver magazinePages:1PhotosStumble ItYahoo! BuzzCommentsJoin the DiscussionRelated Stories »2011 Dodge Durango - Short Take Road TestElegant and relevant: Dodge leaps back into the thick of the SUV game.2011 Dodge Durango R/T Hemi AWD - Short Take Road TestDodge builds an R/T crossover that really feels ready for the road and track.2009 Honda Pilot vs. Ford Flex and Four Other Crossovers - Comparison TestsWe compare six family haulers and, amazingly, drown none of them.Dodge Launches Free Maintenance Program for Priciest Durango and Journey ModelsName That Exhaust Note, Episode 83: 2011 Dodge Durango R/TJeep Grand Cherokee vs. Kia Borrego, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota 4Runner - Comparison TestsFinding Faults: Four SUVs with $40k price tags go rock hopping in southern California’s shakiest earthquake zones. Car and Driver Video »This Month in Car and Driver » Vehicles Trucks, SUVs, & Vans Sporty & Fun Sedans & Wagons Luxury Budget & Green Editor's Choice Most Researched Reviews In the Magazine From the Archives Comparison Tests Road Tests First Drives News Auto Shows Spy Photos Car News Car and Driver Blog Features Gear Box Interviews Tech Department Sport Awards Columns Features Buyer's Guide Editor's Choice: Trucks, SUVs, & Vans Editor's Choice: Sporty & Fun Editor's Choice: Sedans & Wagons Editor's Choice: Luxury Editor's Choice: Budget & Green Follow us Car and Driver RSS Car and Driver on Twitter Car and Driver on YouTube Car and Driver on Facebook Backfires Subscribe Mobile Digital Edition Newsletter Subscriptions Sitemap Contact Us Browse Cars for Sale Subscriptions/Customer Service Website Feedback Best Cars Luxury Cars Sports Cars Trucks Hybrids YouTube Twitter FacebookHFMU.S. Mens NetworkVisit other Hachette Filipacchi sites: Cycle World ELLE ELLEgirl ELLE DECOR Glo Premiere Road & Track Woman's DayCopyright ©2010 Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., Inc., Terms & Conditions Privacy-Your Privacy Rights