|Positives: Good steering and handling for a big SUV, room for real adults in all rows, well-appointed interior, serious cargo capacity, distinct and masculine looks.|
|Negatives: Infotainment was finicky at times, too much reliance on touchscreen controls for certain functions, could do without the glossy wood-like trim.|
|Bottom Line: The Durango doesn't get the credit it deserves. It's a true three-row, seven-passenger SUV (when properly configured) that drives better than it should and has plenty of thrust with the V6. It also looks better than most of its competitors, thanks to athletic and muscular sheet metal, and the interior is about as comfy as you can expect for this price. It's one of FCA's best vehicles, and one they need to hold on to.|
We drove the top trim Citadel with the standard V6 engine, and we had high expectations. After a full week of driving, we came away with strong feelings about this big SUV that has an uncertain future.
The Durango is one of the few big SUVs that won't act like a sedative when you're behind the wheel. Our expectations are typically pretty low when it comes to heavy, lumbering vehicles that are far more utility than sport, but the Durango is a breath of fresh air, even when it doesn't have a V8 under the hood (yes, you can upgrade to the HEMI). You might also be surprised to find that the V6 can tow up to 6,200 pounds, a serious number for something that's primarily going to be used to haul kids and sports gear.
Ride Quality: The Durango is smooth and absorbs bumps very well. At no time did it feel harsh or jarring, nor did it feel overly cushy where you couldn't sense the road.
Acceleration: Just shy of 300 hp, the V6 moves this 5,000-pound Durango well. Throttle response is quite good, as is the 8-speed transmission's shifting. You won't be alarmed by the power, but you won't be underwhelmed, either.
Braking: Good, progressive brake pedal and moderate stopping distances for a vehicle that's quite heavy.
Steering: We particularly liked the Durango's steering feel and weight, which wasn't artificially heavy and not too light, either. Just about right.
Handling: Though the Durango rides very comfortably, it doesn't compromise the handling. Body roll is minimal, and the weight of the vehicle doesn't upset the Durango when going into corners.
The Uconnect system gets good reviews from most critics, and we've had solid experiences, too. For some reason, our tester was finicky, but we couldn't be sure if it was our AT&T provider iPhone 6s Plus that was the culprit or not. The Durango's system kept on disconnecting the Bluetooth connection or couldn't find the phone numerous times. At least the controls for the UI are pretty good, but we'd like to see a bit more visual distinction that the red and white setup doesn't seem to provide.
Also, functions like steering wheel and seat temp controls should really be handled by physical buttons. At least climate controls and audio system functions still get knobs allocated to them.
Infotainment System: The 8.4-inch touchscreen is well-positioned, clear and responsive.
Controls: Overall, we like FCA's controls in their Dodge vehicles. Easy to understand and not too much reliance on screen controls.
Bluetooth Pairing: Our phone had repeated issues pairing and remaining paired for both phone calls and streaming audio.
Voice Call Quality: Very good quality when we could actually get and remain connected.
The Durango is easily one of the best styled SUVs around. It doesn't have to rely on weird styling cues like a floating roof or strangely-shaped headlights to set itself apart. But it also manages to be distinct in a segment of similarly-shaped vehicles. Its muscular sheetmetal makes it look tough, while the nice brushed metal touches on the exterior keep things more sophistcated. Even after a few years, it still looks fresh and tasteful.
Front: The Citadel dresses up the fascia with nice brushed metal-like mesh trim in the grille. The LED driving light strip at the base of the headlights is a nice touch, too.
Rear: Nothing to dislike here. The Charger-like taillights look very good, and the twin round tailpipes keep things racy.
Profile: It's one of the best SUV profiles around. Muscular but not overly dramatic, the Durango looks great from the side view, even with thick pillars.
Cabin: One of the better Dodge interiors, in our opinion. We love the cream colored leather and the beefy steering wheel.
It's easily one of the most comfortable 3-row SUVs on the market, and it seems that a lot of automakers can't quite get the formula right. All three rows can accommodate adults without feeling cramped. Our Citadel came with the excellent optional captain's chairs in the second row, but capacity gets reduced to six people. It's a vehicle that you won't be afraid to take on longer trips thanks to its second-row entertainment monitors from the rear-seat video system, and both the amenities and the seating comfor mean zero complaints from passengers.
The 2017 Durango can be outfitted in a number of ways to match your preferences or utility intentions. Lower trims can seat five on two rows, while higher trims add a third row. You can also swap out the second-row bench for a pair of captainâ€™s chairs to increase comfort and passenger maneuverability, which is already highly regarded. The second-row doors open wide, and the seats themselves fold down and out of the way to facilitate access to the back row. Even the third row is welcoming, something that canâ€™t be said of most competitorsâ€™, and adults should have minimal problems accessing it and finding enough room.
Front Seats: Great cushioning and bolstering. Every drive was comfortable and complaint-free.
Rear Seats: With captain's chairs, it's easily one of the best SUV second rows in existence. Great head, leg and shoulder room.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The Durango is a quiet ride, and the build quality is excellent. The engine can sound a bit noisy under heavy acceleration.
Visibility: The C and D-pillars are on the wider side, but not overly obstructive. Our Multi-View camera did come in handy, though. We had no issues parking this big SUV.
Climate: We loved the heated and ventilated seats, since they warmed up fast on cold mornings and cooled our backsides in the hot afternoon. AC and heat also worked very well, as did the heated steering wheel.
The Durango doesn't exactly get superb safety marks, but they're not horrible, either. It failed to earn top scores with the IIHS, but the upside is that it can be outfitted with a host of great safety technology.
IIHS Rating: It scored "good" in all catgories except for the small front overlap crash, where it garnered a "marginal". /p>
Standard Tech: ParkView rear backup camera, ParkSense rear park assist with stop are the only standard safety features on the Citadel trim.
Optional Tech: Roadside assistance, emergency notification services, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.
The interior of the Durango is spacious, and there's also plenty of storage space for smaller items that occupants will, no doubt, expect for a sport-utility vehicle of this size.
Storage Space: Our Citadel had the rear seat entertainment, which uses the center armest for the Blu-ray player, but there are still plenty of spaces for gear right in front of the shifter and aft. We especially liked the large one below the center stack, which is plenty deep and wide for phones and keys. Why other automakers can't do this with their SUVs is beyond us.
Cargo Room: The Durango nails this aspect easily, thanks to 17.2 cubic feet of space behind the third row, 47.7 cubic feet with the third row folded flat and a colossal 84.5 cubic feet with all the seats folded. Camping, anyone?
Again, with a vehicle of this size, we don't expect top notch marks in driving thrills, nor do we think big SUVs are bastions of efficiency. The Durango in V6 power, however, does pretty well. It's pretty much on par with the V6 Toyota Highlander, and the Durango feels more potent, anyway.
Observed: 19.3 mpg
Driving Factors: We drove the Durango pretty hard during most drives in both suburban and highway driving and never put it into Eco mode.
The Beats premium audio system is very good in the Durango. The nine speakers and subwoofer provide clear sound with ample base that's not overwhelming. We enjoyed listening to music and news without any complaints.