First Test: 2011 Dodge Durango

When Pumpkins Become Carriages

Scott Evans
Dec 13, 2010
In the wonderful world of fairytales, a little magic is all that's required to make a Grand Tourer out of a gourd. Of course, the real world doesn't work that way. It takes Italians. Specifically, it takes Chrysler's new shot-callers -- the Italians who run Fiat. And in the real world, their "magic" is really a pile of cash and the good sense to let the engineers at Dodge build the new Durango to a standard, not a budget.
Photo 2/14   |   2011 Dodge Durango V8 Front Three Quarter
Back in fairytale land, a happy ending often involves the conversion of a villain, and that's how Dodge approached the new Durango. Sure it's a unibody now, but the Durango remains unabashedly rear-wheel driven and V-8-powered. The carryover 360-horsepower 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 then flows to either the rear wheels or all four wheels. A new low-range four-wheel-drive system is offered on V-8 models.
Photo 3/14   |   2011 Dodge Durango V8 Rear 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 pounds. Moreover, with 10-percent-stiffer springs and shocks than its Jeep Grand Cherokee twin, the Durango shines on city streets or backroads, achieving higher g's on the skid pad and faster figure eight times than the Jeep, regardless of engine or powertrain.
Photo 4/14   |   2011 Dodge Durango V8 Front End
Beyond out-handling 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 all the while. The new V-6 not only seriously outperforms 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.
Photo 5/14   |   2011 Dodge Durango V8 Side
In the real world, the Durango is very easy to drive, thanks especially to its impressively small turning circle. Even with its tighter, sedan-like handling, the ride is still smooth and compliant. Throw it at a turn and the Durango will lean a bit, but even two-wheel-drive variants hold tight to the road in emergency maneuvers, giving up only gradual understeer when pressed hard.
Photo 6/14   |   2011 Dodge Durango V6 Cockpit
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-sized adults comfortably.
Photo 7/14   |   2011 Dodge Durango V6 Drive Seat
If you'd asked us two years ago what it would take to make the Durango a serious competitor, our answer may well have involved fairytale plotlines. Truth being stranger than fiction, Dodge has pulled it off with a little help from their Italian friends. Now they just have to convince the market that this carriage isn't a pumpkin in disguise.
Photo 8/14   |   2011 Dodge Durango V8 Driver Seat

2011 Dodge Durango Crew 2011 Dodge Durango Citadel
Base price $36,045 $42,645
Price as Tested $37,035 $46,825
Vehicle layout Front-engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV Front-engine, RWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 3.6L/290-hp/260-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6 5.7L/360-hp/390-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8
Transmission 5-speed automatic 5-speed automatic
Curb weight (f/r dist) 4889 lb (49/51%) 5307 lb (50/50%)
Wheelbase 119.8 in 119.8 in
Length x width x height 199.8 x 75.8 x 70.9 in 199.8 x 75.8 x 70.9 in
0-60 mph 8.8 sec 7.3 sec
Quarter mile 16.6 sec @ 86.1 mph 15.5 sec @ 91.8 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 120 ft 125 ft
Lateral Acceleration 0.74 g (avg) 0.76 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 28.4 sec @ 0.55 g (avg) 28.3 sec @ 0.56 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 16/22 mpg 14/20 mpg
CO2 emissions 1.13 lb/mile 1.20 lb/mile
On sale in the U.S. Currently Currently
Truck Trend Network


Dodge Durango

Fair Market Price
Editors' Overall Rating
Basic Specifications
MSRP: $30,495
Mileage: 18 / 25
Engine: 3.6L V6
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