The name's remained the same, but Dodge's all-new 2011 Dodge Durango has been completely re-imagined from the unibody up, with more standard equipment, an overhauled appearance, updated powertrains, and new underpinnings. The Dodge Boys are hoping the myriad changes will better enable the new Durango to take on the stiff competition in the full-size crossover SUV segment.
The new Durango, which shares numerous elements with the redesigned 2011 Grand Cherokee, looks more refined and luxurious, with a steeply raked windshield and shapelier exterior presence. It's a definite departure from the tough-looking Dodge truck-themed Durangos of the past. The introduction of the new Durango also marks the first widespread appearance of the new Dodge crosshair brand logo, as the Ram's head logo is now affixed to the fledgling Ram brand.
Dodge is touting the Durango's greatly improved interior, although we've yet to see much of it. The automaker claims the gray, hard plastic look of Durangos past has been jettisoned, with upgraded materials and updated interior surfaces throughout. "Thoughtful touches will make owners and their crews want to jump in, hunker down and thoroughly enjoy even the longest drive," according to Dodge PR-speak. Of course, we'll be the judge of that once we actually step into the cockpit, but if the Grand Cherokee's cabin is any indication, we expect good things. Seating configurations are limited to no less than 22 possible arrangements, taking a page from the Grand Caravan's versatility playbook.
Sitting atop the same architecture as the 2011 Grand Cherokee, the Durango's platform has been stretched to accommodate a longer wheelbase and a third row of seating. Unlike the Jeep's five-passenger arrangement, the Durango offers room for seven. (The previous model had the option for either seven or eight passengers.) The previous two Durangos were based upon a truck-derived body-on-frame structure, but the new generation is based on a unibody underpinning that shares roots with the Mercedes-Benz ML-Class. Dodge assures us though that the vehicle has been stiffened so that it "delivers premium driving performance combined with SUV capability and crossover versatility." Apparently you can have your off-road cake and eat it comfortably on-road, too...