Durango Police / EV • Review • 1998-2003 Dodge Durango | 2004-2009 Durango • 2014 Durango
The Dodge Durango returned in model-year 2011, moving to the Jeep Grand Cherokee platform with a 119.8 inch wheelbase — several inches longer than the new Grand Cherokee.
The lineup started with the well-equipped Express model; Durango Crew added remote start, rear backup camera, memory seats, and power liftgate. The CrewLux option package included 20 inch wheels, heated leather seats (first and second rows), Garmin navigation system, and other features. The R/T had a sport suspension (with 20 mm lower ride height), V8, 20 inch three-season performance tires, standard HID headlamps, unique interior, and monochromatic exterior, with optional performance “summer tires;” Heat is similar to R/T but gives up the HID headlamps and V8. (Captain's seats will be available in the second row starting with February 2012 production.)
Finally, the top end was the Durango Citadel, with heated and ventilated seats covered in perforated Nappa leather, visible stitching, chrome-plated wheels, blind spot monitor, high intensity discharge lights, and a unique chrome grille, along with other items.
Options include sunroof, engine block heater, roof rack with integrated, stowable crossbars, trailer towing package, skid plate group, and electronics group (including rear backup camera, rear parking assist, USB port, and upgraded radio). Options that require a particular model include Travel Link, rain sensitive wipers, tilt and telescope steering column, SmartBeam® headlamps, back seat television, forward collision warning, rear cross path detection, adaptive cruise control, hard drive based stereo, Capri leather with embroidered logo, eight-way power driver and passenger seats, and signal mirrors.
Engines were the 3.6L Pentastar (with the Mercedes W5A580 5-speed auto trans) and the 5.7L VVT Hemi (with the proven Chrysler 545RFE five-speed transmission). The 3.6 was rated at 290 hp @ 6,400 rpm; and 260 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm. Estimated EPA gas mileage was 16/23 (rear wheel drive) and 16/22 (all wheel drive). With the Hemi, power was rated at 360 hp, and 390 lb-ft @ 4,250 rpm; gas mileage is expected to be 14/20 (RWD) or 13/20 (AWD), with up to 7,400 lb of trailer towing with rear wheel drive.
Why the R/T? Engineers told Ralph Gilles they wouldn't drive the Durango because it was too “serious.” To create the R/T, they dropped the chassis by 20 mm, made the Hemi, and retuned the suspension. It's all monochrome, with black headlamp cans, HID headlamps, and three-season tires, and can still tow 7,400 lb. Gilles said, “Pretty amazing value. We hope we put the sport back into sport utility.”
Pricing starts at $29,195, with AWD adding $2,000 to the price regardless of trim level. The Crew costs $4,000 more than Express; CrewLux package starts at $9,000 more than Express, or $38,195. The top of the line Durango Citadel is $41,795... with rear wheel drive. Add $850 for the destination charge to all those numbers.
Durango R/T starts at $35,465 plus destination, while Durango Heat starts at $30,500 plus destination. Durango Heat adds five horsepower to the regular Durango V6.
As an example, a Durango Crew with AWD lists for $35,195; the dealer invoice price is $33,307 (without considering holdback and other incentives). Adding Customer Preferred Package 26G would add $5,000 to the price, with a dealer invoice cost of $4,450. The destination in 2011 was $850 (for both dealer and customer).
With second- and third-row seats folded flat, the Durango can fit a 6-foot couch with room for a coffee table, or enough 10-foot 2x4s to build a tree house. Visibility over the third row was achieved by creating a button to drop the headrests when the third row is not in use.
The optional Hemi V8 provides up to 7,400 pounds of towing, while the standard V6 provides best-in-class V6 towing at 6,200 pounds; both have standard trailer sway control, and both engines had variable valve timing and were available with all wheel drive.
Durango's unibody structure was 52% made up of advanced, high-strength steels. More than 5,500 welds and more than 4,100 mm of arc welding contributed to torsional stiffness levels greater than the Mercedes GL. Every path that leads to the interior is sealed in one or more ways and joints are made as tight as possible by using sealer between panels, which expands during the paint process. A double wall separates the engine bay and the cabin to limit the noise.
The short/long arm front suspension and isolated multi-link rear suspension had isolated front and rear cradles for improved on-road handling and comfort. Aggressive shock and spring rates and large sway bars handled body roll in hard turning.
The drag coefficient of 0.35 was 14% better than the prior Durango, contributing to quiet interior and fuel efficiency.
Standard safety features include front seat-mounted side air bags and side-curtain air bags that cover passengers in all three rows, active head restraints, and Electronic Stability Control; options include Blind-spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path detection, Forward Collision Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Keyless Enter-n' Go.
The new Dodge logo on the steering wheel was eerily similar to the one created by JackRatchett and featured on Allpar weeks before launch.
The Hemi V8 was optional on all models, for around $2,000 extra on Express.
Overall, the pricing reflected the balance between a larger vehicle and lower off-road capacity. Given the high-end interior and feel of the 2011 Durango, the 290-horsepower Pentastar V6, and the daunting list of standard features, the pricing was reasonable.
Stephen Weigel “fleshed out” patent drawings for a more realistic view of what the actual vehicle might look like. His illustration is almost identical to the actual photo, taken weeks later.
1998-2003 Dodge Durango | 2004-2009 Durango | Durango review | Durango factory
Durangos were built, along with Grand Cherokee, in the North Jefferson plant.
Dealershipforum.com was right about the name being Dodge Durango.
JackRatchett posted an absolutely accurate rendition of the new Dodge logo, without having seen it.
Redriderbob wrote in mid-2009, “About a year and half ago, I broke the word to you guys and gals at Allpar.com that the next generation of the Grand Cherokee would grow in size to cover both the Commander and Grand Cherokee lineups. I also stated that the next Grand Cherokee, Aspen, and Durango would all share a common platform. That is still true. Dodge will replace the Durango in 2012, one model year after the introduction of the new Grand Cherokee. The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2012 Dodge Durango will share powertrains as well as chassis parts. The Chrysler Aspen's future is still undecided.”
1998-2003 Dodge Durango | 2004-2009 Durango | 2014 Durango | Durango review
All Mopar Car and Truck News