2015 Dodge Durango R/T Blacktop AWD
Big and brawny, fast and roomy.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: September 1st, 2015
Crossovers are all well and good, if what you really need is a hatchback or a sedan, but if you've got a large family and you don't want to drive a minivan, there's really only one choice in the world of quickly vanishing SUVs: the Dodge Durango. And if you want an SUV that will not only take the family on vacation, but could do okay on a track, for some reason, you need the Dodge Durango R/T.
There aren't many passenger vehicles that make a statement anymore. The ascent of the crossover has meant the genericization of car design. This leaves SUVs, and especially big, manly ones like the Dodge Durango (the name sounds like it's straight out of a 70s procedural drama: "Dodge Durango, Private Eye"), to stick out like a sore thumb. Or maybe the more accurate metaphor is a clenched fist.
The Durango is not only big, it looks rough-hewn, as if chiseled out of solid steel. Like some weird variation on a mullet, the Durango is business in the back, but instead of "party" in the front, it's more like "I'm going to kill you." Between the vacant stare of the headlines that extend out from the crosshair grille, and the oversized bumper that separates the upper and lower grilles like a great fat lip, the Durango looks menacing without having to resort to overly aggressive styling cues.
It's the size that does it. The Durango is a suited-up quarterback, proportions of this thing could be called gargantuan, except that one day while driving it I was passed by a Cadillac Escalade, which makes the Durango look like a Mini Cooper by comparison.
While the exterior of the Durango is all about looking mean, the interior is all about feeling at home. Dodge invented the minivan, so it knows a thing or two about what families need. The Durango has it all: three rows of seats that fold down at the pull of a simple latch to offer all the storage space you need to move a 50-inch TV or a dining room set, enough USB ports to power almost everybody's devices (again, sorry third-row sitters), and individual screens, entertainment-device inputs, and headphones for the second-row passengers (you lose again, kids in the wayback).
If your kids are bored on a trip in the Durango, then it's nobody's fault but whoever forgot to pack the tablets, game consoles, and DVDs.
Seats are plenty comfortable too, which is no small thing for road-trip-takers; even the third row seats, as diminutive and lacking in ports and screens as they are, are roomy enough for full-size adults to not have to squeeze themselves into.
Outfitted with the 7.5-inch infotainment screen, UConnect gives you a relatively trouble-free interface, and there are even separate controls for rear-passenger entertainment, just like in a minivan. The sound system, for some reason, is EQ'd for maximum door-rattling bass. Either this car is marketed toward hip-hop producers, or someone at Dodge just really loves bass.
On the Road
This being the R/T edition, there is no shortage of power coming from the V-8 Hemi under the hood. Not-fully-loaded, the Durango is a bit of a crazed beast; capable of far more power than it should ever be entrusted with, but laden down with the family and a full complement of luggage, and towing something behind, the R/T can still beat any other SUV to the finish line, wherever that happens to be.
As for the "T" part of R/T, I seriously doubt anyone is taking their Durango to the track - that would be kind of nutso. As far as handling, there's only so much you can do with a vehicle this big. Not that it doesn't corner well, it's just that why corner fast in this thing at all? Whatever speeds you can achieve (and you can achieve some high ones) don't exactly register as speed when you're sitting this high in a vehicle this huge. The only way you know you're going fast is to glance at the speedometer. Otherwise the Durango appears to be better suited to a luxurious vacation than a road rally or a track day.
The ride is comfy, and noise deadening is superb. There's definitely a bit of a luxury car feel to the Durango, as long as you don't look too closely at the plastic surfaces. It may be big and oafish on the outside, but on the inside it's as pleasant and refined as can be.
The Durango is among the last of a dying breed, and while that breed may be dying for a good reason, Dodge has made a great case for staying the execution of the huge, hulking SUV. At least until it's time to fill up the tank.
Specs & Prices
Engine: 5.7-liter naturally aspirated V-8
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive
Power Output: 360 hp / 390 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 14 city / 23 highway
Base Price: $42,195
As Tested: $48,170 (incl. $995 destination)
Blacktop Package: 20-inch aluminum wheels, Durango gloss black badges, gloss black exterior mirros, gloss black grille
Customer Preferred Package 275: Rear DVD entertainment center, BLu-Ray compatible dual-screen video, power 8-way driver seat with memory and 8-way passenger seat, rear seat video systems
Trailer Tow Group IV: Class IV receiver hitch, 7- and 4-pin wiring harness
Individual Options: Second-row fold/tumble captain chairs, second-row console with armrest and storage, Uconnect with navigation and satellite radio
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2015 Dodge Durango, click here: 2015 Dodge Durango.