By now, you may be wondering what makes the Durango different than its fraternal twin, the Jeep Grand Cherokee. So far, the drivetrain capabilities are the same and they even share the same 8.1 inches of ground clearance. But while the Durango does get load-leveling rear shocks, it doesn't get the Jeep's fancy air suspension. What it does get are shocks and springs up to 10-percent stiffer than the Jeep's for better on-road handling, not to mention a performance-oriented R/T model. In addition to being 10 inches longer than the Jeep and riding on a 5-inch-longer wheelbase, the Durango also features a number of electronic tricks to help its handling. They include electro-hydraulic power steering on V-6 models, an electronic limited-slip differential on the rear axle, trailer sway control, adaptive cruise control, and electronic roll mitigation for flatter handling.
The stretched wheelbase pays huge dividends for third row passengers. A pair of six-foot, 200-pounders could easily spend a couple of hours in the way-back without much discomfort. In fact, the second row seats offer only an inch or two more legroom.
Most impressive though, especially when compared to the last generation Durango, is the new SUV's ride and handling. The added length (when compared to the Grand Cherokee) improves the straight-line feel -- there's very little wobble and almost nothing to give away the fact that you're in such a large, heavy vehicle. Additionally, there's very little brake dive, even when you panic stop. And the brakes feel solid. Turn the wheel, and not only are you treated to a properly weighted tiller, but the Durango is almost happy about going around corners. You know what? Let's drop the word "almost." This Durango is one impressive truck.
While the mechanical work is all well and good, if there's any place the old Durango needed polishing, it was inside the cabin. You know it, we know it, and Dodge knows it. That's why it's been completely redesigned with higher-quality materials, tighter panel gaps, and fewer seams. Dodge even goes so far as to claim that the Durango doesn't have a base model, suggesting that the entry-level Express trim is equal to or better than other brands' mid-range trims. To make the point, Dodge loaded the Durango with optional Sirius satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio, hands-free calling, rear-seat entertainment and TV, and even mobile internet. On top of that, it seats seven yet can hold up to 84.5 cubic-feet of cargo with all the seats down. That's big enough to carry both a 6-foot couch and a coffee table inside the vehicle, Dodge claims.