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Dodge Nitro



First Test: 2011 Dodge Durango
Photo 2/55   |   2011 Dodge Durango V8 Side In Motion
After taking model year 2010 off, Chrysler's new shot-callers -- the Italians who run Fiat -- have sent a pile of cash the Durango's way. The people in charge also had the good sense to let Dodge engineers build the new Durango to a standard, not a budget. Sure, it's a unibody now, but the seven-passenger Durango remains unabashedly rear-driven and V-8-powered. The carryover 360-horse, 5.7-liter V-8 puts down 390 pound-feet, but the volume engine will be the new 3.6-liter V-6 offering 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet. For now, they're both handicapped by an old five-speed automatic, but a new eight-speed is on the way. Power flows to either the rear wheels or all four. A new low-range four-wheel-drive system is offered on V-8 models. Few model names will sound familiar to Durango fans, as the new vehicle uses trim levels called Express, Crew, Citadel, and R/T.
Dimensions are similar to the previous model's. The wheelbase grows by 0.6 inch, and overall length is shorter by 1 inch. The new Durango is only slightly narrower (0.2 inch), but sits nearly 4 inches lower. The track is 0.5 inch narrower in front and 0.3 inch narrower in back, ground clearance is down by 0.6 inch, and the fuel tank holds 2.4 gallons fewer gallons of fuel.
Photo 3/55   |   2011 Dodge Durango V8 Front Three Quarters
With the V-8 Ford Explorer gone, the Durango now claims best-in-class towing with the V-6 pulling an impressive 6200 pounds and the V-8 hauling 7400. The last truck-based Durango had a maximum towing capacity of 8950 pounds. Payload capacity is down as well, from a maximum of 1780 pounds to 1430. With 10-percent stiffer springs and shocks than its Jeep Grand Cherokee twin, the Durango shines on city streets or backroads, and achieves higher g on the skidpad, regardless of engine or powertrain.
Beyond outhandling its Jeep twin, it fully embarrasses the old Durango. Despite being larger, heavier, and offering the same V-8 engine with a modest power increase, the new Durango hits 60 mph 0.7 second faster than the old model, pulls an additional 0.08 g on the skidpad, and gets slightly better fuel economy. The new V-6 seriously outperforms not only the old six-pot, but even the old 4.7-liter V-8. Its Achilles' heel is the old, slow-shifting five-speed auto with its long gears and refusal to take manual shift commands seriously.
In the real world, the Durango is very easy to drive, thanks especially to its impressively small turning circle. Even with its tighter, sedanlike handling, the ride is still smooth and compliant. Throw it at a turn and the Durango will lean a bit, but even rear-drive variants hold tight to the road in emergency maneuvers, giving up only gradual understeer when pressed hard.
If there's any place the old Durango needed polishing, it was inside the cabin. That's why it's been completely redesigned with higher-quality materials, tighter panel gaps, and fewer seams. The result is impressive, with comfortable seats, good visibility, improved ergonomics, and a vastly improved Garmin-based navigation system. Stretching 10 inches longer than the Jeep, there's plenty of second-row legroom and a third row that can actually seat two average-size adults comfortably. Compared with the old Durango, there's about an inch less headroom in the front and third rows, but 0.5 inch more in the second row. Legroom is down in the front (by 1.1 inches) and rear (by 3.0 inches), and up in the second row.
In the transformation from sport/utility vehicle to crossover, the Durango loses some of its capability. In return, though, the new Dodge has become a serious competitor, with a little help from its Italian friends.

2011 Dodge Durango
Drivetrain layout Front engine, RWD/AWD
Engine 60° V-6, alum block/heads
Bore x stroke 3.78 x 3.27 in
Displacement 220.0 ci/3.6L
Compression ratio 10.2:1
Valve gear DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
SAE horsepower 290 hp @ 6400 rpm
SAE torque 260 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
Transmission W5A580 5-speed automatic
1st 3.59:1
2nd 2.19:1
3rd 1.41:1
4th 1.00:1
5th 0.83:1
Reverse 3.16:1
Axle ratio 3.06:1
Final drive ratio 2.54:1
Opt engine 90° V-8, iron block/alum heads
Bore x stroke 3.92 x 3.58 in
Displacement 345.0 ci/5.7L
Compression ratio 10.5:1
Valve gear OHV, 2 valves/cyl
SAE horsepower 360 hp @ 5150 rpm
SAE torque 390 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm
Opt transmission 545RFE 5-speed automatic
1st 3.00:1
2nd 1.67:1 upshift, 1.50:1 kickdown
3rd 1.00:1
4th 0.75:1
5th 0.67:1
Reverse 3.00:1
Axle ratio 3.47:1
Final drive ratio 2.32:1
Wheelbase 119.8 in
Length x width x height 199.8 x 75.8 x 70.9 in
Track, f/r 63.9/64.1 in
Turning circle 37.1 ft
Approach/departure angle 16.3/21.4 deg
Ground clearance 8.1 in
Curb weight 4889; 5307 lb*
Weight distribution, f/r 49/51; 50/50%*
Payload capacity 1611; 1793 lb*
GVWR 6500; 7100 lb*
Max towing capacity 6200; 7400 lb*
Seating capacity 7
Headroom, f/m/r 39.9/39.8/37.8 in
Legroom, f/m/r 40.3/38.6/31.5 in
Shoulder room, f/m/r 58.5/58.3/50.4 in
Cargo volume, beh 1st/2nd/3rd row 84.5/47.7/17.2 cu ft
Construction Unibody Suspension, f/r Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar/ multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Steering type Rack-and-pinion
Ratio 19.0:1
Turns, lock to lock 3.5
Brakes, f/r 13.0-in solid or vented disc/13.0-in solid or vented disc, ABS
Wheels 8.0 x 18; 8.0 x 20-in cast aluminum
Tires 265/60R18 109T M+S Michelin Latitude Tour
0-30 3.2; 2.6 sec*
0-40 4.7; 3.8*
0-50 6.3; 5.2*
0-60 8.8; 7.3*
0-70 11.4; 9.5*
0-80 14.2; 11.8*
0-90 18.7; 14.9*
0-100 24.0; 18.9*
Quarter mile 16.6 sec @ 86.1 mph; 15.5 sec @ 91.8 mph*
Braking, 60-0 120; 125 ft*
Lateral acceleration 0.74; 0.76 g (avg)*
Top-gear revs @ 60 mph 1400; 1650 rpm*
Base price $36,045; $42,645*
Price as tested $37,035; $46,825*
Airbags Dual front, front side, f/r curtain
Fuel capacity 24.6 gal
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy 16/22; 14/20 mpg*
CO2 emissions 1.06; 1.20 lb/mile*
Recommended fuel Regular unleaded
Crew AWD (3.6L); Citadel (5.7L)*
First Test: 2011 Dodge Journey
Refinement was an issue in the Journey's past, and Dodge has addressed the issue head-on. For the new decade, the body retains much of its original shape while infusing subtle, modern revisions to the front and rear ends. Chrysler's now ubiquitous Pentastar V-6 represents a welcome addition and, driving all four wheels of our test car through a six-speed automatic trans, it's good for a 0-60-mph time of 7.5 seconds and a 15.9-second quarter-mile run. That's sprightly enough for heroic merges onto the highway. The last time we tested a Journey, it was the 2009 R/T with the 3.5-liter V-6 that needed 8.4 seconds to reach 60, completed the quarter mile in 16.4 mph at 83.1 mph, and braked from 60 mph in 130 feet.
Photo 16/55   |   2011 Dodge Journey AWD Front Three Quarters In Motion
John and Jane Doe may not fully comprehend how the steering was recalibrated or how the suspension was stiffened, but the revised innards will be the talk of the post-PTA meetings, particularly the smartly designed gauge cluster with Electronic Vehicle Information Center, vibrant touch-screen display, attractive steering wheel, simplified center stack, and softer feel.
Second-row seating is tight for full-size adults, and you can forget about passengers teenaged and up for the final row. We suggest stowing the third row, which will create more than ample cargo space for the in-laws' luggage come holiday season (37 cubic feet for the seven-seater, to be exact). You'll rarely get shortchanged on safety features in this day and age, so parents and parents-to-be can sleep soundly, knowing their two-ton midsize cross-over will perform admirably should intervehicular contact occur -- and there are full-length side curtain airbags, too.
Photo 17/55   |   2011 Dodge Journey AWD Rear Three Quarters
Versatility may not win the heart of the enthusiast, but it earns commendation from those with dollar sense. Now that the Journey has undergone a thorough refresh, it's bound to delight the sensible Does.

2011 Dodge Journey Crew AWD
Base price $30,940
Price as tested $33,480
Layout Front engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door crossover
Engine 3.6L/283-hp/260-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase 113.8 in
Length x width x height 192.4 x 83.7 x 66.6 in
Curb weight (f/r dist) 4350 lb (55/45%)
Towing capacity 1000-2500 lb
0-60 mph 7.5 sec
Quarter mile 15.9 sec @ 87.2 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 128 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.76 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 16/24 mpg
CO2 emissions 1.03 lb/mile
On sale in U.S. Currently
Ram Laramie Longhorn
There are two new Ram trim levels for 2011. The first, the Laramie Longhorn, is Ram Truck's response to the Ford King Ranch and GMC Denali. This is the most luxurious Ram to date, further gilding the already upscale Laramie, adding such amenities such Western-style, belt-buckle-inspired badges. All five colors offered have White Gold-colored accents.
Photo 26/55   |   2011 Ram Laramie Longhorn Front View
The cabin features burled-walnut woodgrain and full leather. Cabin color choices are dark slate gray and russet, or bark brown and light pebble beige. There's also a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and special seat stitchwork. The interior receives a Longhorn-exclusive instrument cluster ringed in chrome, and there are also special etched badges inside. Standard features include nav, backup camera, rear heated seats, remote start, power-adjustable pedals, and 10-way-power driver seat.
This new trim level is available in the 1500, 2500, and 3500, single- and dual-rear wheel, Crew Cab or Mega Cab, short- and long-wheelbase, rear and four-wheel drive, and will soon be in dealerships.
2011 Ram Chassis Cab Crew Cab
This is an all-new crew cab option for 2011 Ram 3500, 4500, and 5500 Chassis Cabs, with 4 additional inches of rear-seat legroom. The chassis cabs now have new exterior styling, and boast the largest standard fuel tank in their class (52 gallons), best GCWR of the diesels (24,000 pounds), and an available 26,000-pound GCW.
Photo 42/55   |   2011 Ram 4500 ST Chassis Cab Front Drivers Side
The chassis cabs are available with regular or crew cabs, single- or dual-rear wheel, with four cab/axle lengths, as ST, SLT, and Laramie trims. There are two axles with three ratios: 3.42:1, 3.73:1, and 4.10:1. The 3500s come with 17-inch wheels, and the 4500/5500s with 19.5-inch wheels.The commercial trucks have four upfitter switches in the cab, and improvements over last year's model include a standard 180-amp alternator, updated Hemi, and upgrades to the cabin.
The complement of lux features includes heated ventilated seats with power lumbar, seat heaters, heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, and navigation with traffic alert. On the work side of the equation, a power inverter, additional fuel tank, and trailer-brake controller are available.
2011 Dodge Nitro Heat
There have been other special editions for the Nitro, such as the Detonator, Heat, and Shock. Now the Heat 4.0 joins the lineup. It comes with the 260-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 and a five-speed automatic. Other standard fare includes 20-inch aluminum wheels, performance suspension, an upgraded stereo system, and a U-Connect phone.
Photo 51/55   |   2011 Dodge Nitro
2011 Ram Outdoorsman
You may have already seen the Outdoorsman, one of the coolest truck editions out there. It comes from the dealership outfitted with features that will appeal to outdoor enthusiasts. This package has features ideal for boaters, such as towing upgrades, extra skidplates, and all-terrain tires, plus the 1500 model adds the option of the RamBox for storing fishing and hunting gear, and there is a gun rack/fishing rod holster available from Mopar. The Outdoorsman, which comes with unique graphics, replaces the TRX4 trim level and has a starting price of $28,350 for the 1500 and $33,970 for the HDs.
Photo 52/55   |   2011 Ram 1500 Outdoorsman Front Three Quarters View
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