2011 DODGE DURANGO REVIEW
Dexter Does The Durango
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Sat, Sep 3, 2011
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
To showcase its all new mid-size SUV, Dodge hired a TV serial killer. More specifically, Michael C. Hall, who plays the police analyst that moonlights as a vigilante serial kiler on Showtime’s Dexter, is the voice behind those commercials wherein the Durango slays the competition. So, does the Durango slay? Editor John-Fredrik Wright investigates. By John-Fredrik Wright The all new Dodge Durango has that look—some might say a very aggressive-look, in line with the entire Dodge line-up. Getting in, one realizes that this car might be aggressive looking on the outside, but the inside offers a luxurious feel. The leather is tight and crisp, and the seats look refined, especially for a car that looks so masculine on the outside. That masculinity carries over to the engine compartment. The V6 (which is the smaller of the two engines available on the Durango) has plenty of juice, and will easily get you up to speed. 290 horses might not sound like a truckload these days when we often see SUVs with power in excess of 350 horses (the V8 version has 360), but this “little” engine not only thinks it can, it really does pull it off. A five-speed automatic transmission helps deliver the power from the engine to the wheels, bringing the Durango up to speed in a fluid motion. That fluidity carries over even in downshifts, where the transmission continues to play nice.
Speaking of nice, the Durango Crew comes with a remote start function. As someone who drives a lot of cars with a lot of features, I must say that turning on the car from afar still brings a smile to my face. As to whether you might regard this as luxurious or superfluous, I don’t know, but it’s one sure way of cooling off the cabin after leaving it baked in a parking lot (assuming you left the air conditioner engaged). Another smart feature: The high-beams can turn themselves on and off (if activated to do so). They can automatically turn off when approaching another car, and turn back on after you’ve passed. Convenient, yes, but I sometimes disagreed with the timing. I would have liked to enjoy more light in some circumstances, and I probably would have turned them back on faster than the system did after passing a car. Nonetheless, this technology is popping up in a variety of cars, and it will be interesting to see which manufacturer does the best job with it. A feature that has been adapted by many manufacturers, and perfected by most (including Dodge) is the blind spot warning system. When driving a car of this size, knowing if someone is in your blind spot or not is a great stress reliever, especially in L.A. traffic. The adaptive speed control and forward collision warning system is another tool that comes in handy. The cruise control that does some of the work for you by decelerating and accelerating in accordance with the traffic in front of you can help you with your driving. It does make driving easier and less stressful. The forward collision system senses if you’re approaching something in front of you too fast (and not braking), and tells you about this via an audio alert and a “BRAKE” on the dash. This should make anyone wake up out of his or her coma and hit the brakes! Interestingly enough however, approaching steep hills can sometimes set off the warning, something I figured out when driving on some of the hillier parts of L.A.
The interior, other than feeling pretty deluxe for a SUV, has a few features that make the Durango a vehicle to take notice. One is the 506-watt, nine-speaker premium system, which does a great job at pumping tunes. The second is easy access to the USB inlet in the center console, which makes it easy to bring your own music along for the ride. So what is Dodge trying to do with the Durango? Take over the world? No, maybe not the world, but they seem to be interested in battling not just the Ford Explorer (the usual target in those Dexter-voiced commercials), but also Mercedes, BMW, and Audi in the SUV marketplace. The great news is that the Durango is priced quite a bit lower than the more exclusive brands, making this SUV a great deal in relation to what you are getting. The list of features you’ll enjoy in the Durango is long, and include best-in-class towing (V8 model), best-in-class range, seating for seven and remarkable SUV handling. The Durango does make it hard for the competition to play safely outside.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT: Sends many-a-competitor six feet under. For more information about Dodge products, go to dodge.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2011 Dodge Durango Crew RWD - Crewlux Price: $33,195 (base) $40,240 (as tested with Preferred Package 26G and Technology Group) EPA fuel economy rating: 16 mpg (city) 23 mpg (highway)
Engine size and type: 3.6-Liter V6 24-Valve VVT Engine Horsepower: 290 @ 6,400 rpm Torque: 260 pound-feet @ 4,800 rpm Transmission type: Five-speed automatic Drive configuration: Rear-wheel drive Steering (type): Power-assisted rack & pinion Suspension (front and rear): Individual front. Multi-link rear Brakes and tires: Antilock 4-Wheel Disc Brakes P265/60R18 BSW On/Off-Road Tires Dimensions Length: 199.8 in Width: 75.8 in Height: 70.9 in Curb weight: 4838 lbs