- Unusually spacious third-row seats
- 8.4-inch touchscreen is one of the best in the class
- Assertive acceleration with the V8 engine
- Exceptional towing capacity for a crossover
- Real off-road capabilities with 4WD and low-range gearing
- Lackluster fuel economy (especially with the V8)
- Bluetooth streaming audio isn't standard on SXT
If the 2017 Dodge Durango looks familiar to you, there's a reason for it. The current-generation Durango has been around for a while now, dating back to the 2011 model year. So, yes, it's getting on in years compared to a number of rivals. But Dodge has kept this three-row crossover fresh, most notably with a significant update for 2014 that added a satisfying eight-speed automatic transmission and a revised interior with Chrysler's excellent 8.4-inch touchscreen. Moreover, the fundamentals have always been strong with this one, including extraordinary towing capacity, available V8 power and adult-sized space in the third row.
The Durango is one of the most muscular vehicles in its class, but it's also one of the heaviest, too. That takes a toll on real-world fuel economy, and it can also make the standard V6 engine feel strained at times — a good argument for specifying the exuberant Hemi V8, gas bills notwithstanding. But if you can find a powertrain that's to your liking, there's a lot to like. Even at this advanced stage in its production cycle, the Durango remains one of the most capable and well-rounded three-row crossovers you can buy.
Having said that, there are certainly newer models in the segment that might seem to have more of a shine. Chief among them is the Honda Pilot, which improved dramatically with its recent redesign, adding third-row space, an updated technology interface and stronger V6 performance. The redesigned Mazda CX-9 brings a sleek, luxurious presence along with spirited turbocharged acceleration, while the Toyota Highlander continues to be competitive across the board and offers the additional appeal of a hybrid model. But if you want a lot of versatility and verve without springing for a truck-based SUV such as the Chevy Tahoe or Ford Expedition, the 2017 Dodge Durango is an ideal choice.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017
For 2017, a new GT trim replaces the Limited, adding a monochromatic exterior with sporty flourishes, and the base SXT can be ordered with just two rows of seats. Otherwise, there are only minor feature changes, including the new Anodized Platinum package with two-tone leather upholstery for the Citadel trim.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2017 Dodge Durango is a three-row crossover SUV available in four trim levels: SXT, GT, Citadel and R/T. Seven-passenger seating is standard, while second-row captain's chairs that reduce capacity to six are optional. Note that the base SXT can be specified with just two rows of seats for 2017, while the other trims are three-row only.
The base SXT comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, a load-leveling rear suspension, automatic headlamps, foglamps, heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, cruise control, three-zone climate control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding and reclining second-row seat, a 50/50-split folding third-row seat (with power-folding headrests) or alternatively no third-row seat at all, cloth upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a 5-inch touchscreen interface, and a six-speaker sound system with an auxiliary audio jack, a USB port and an SD card reader.
The GT adds 20-inch wheels, LED running lights, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, additional body-color exterior trim, dual exhaust tips, remote ignition, an auto-dimming driver-side exterior mirror, a leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel, power front seats (eight-way driver, six-way passenger) with four-way power lumbar, heated front and second-row seats, leather upholstery, a 115-volt power outlet, driver memory settings, satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio, dual USB charge ports and an 8.4-inch touchscreen interface with voice controls.
Going with the Citadel will get you xenon headlights, automatic high beams, automatic wipers, upgraded brakes, chrome exterior trim, roof-rail crossbars, a sunroof, a power liftgate, a cargo cover, upgraded leather upholstery, additional leather trim, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a navigation system, an eight-way power passenger seat, ventilated front seats, and a nine-speaker audio system with a subwoofer and HD radio. An optional Anodized Platinum appearance package adds upgraded leather upholstery with silver accent stitching and special interior trim.
Finally, the R/T tops things off with the V8 engine as standard, an upgraded steering system, a sport-tuned suspension, red accent stitching and a Beats audio system. The Citadel's standard roof rails and sunroof are optional.
Some of the higher trims' standard features are also offered on lower trims as options. A Technology Group package for the Citadel and R/T adds adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a forward collision warning system with automatic braking, lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist. Blind-spot monitoring is also offered on the GT via a separate options package (Safety/Security and Convenience Group) that additionally includes a handful of the Citadel's standard luxuries.
Optional on the GT and R/T is a Brass Monkey appearance package that adds a gloss-black grille, black headlamp bezels, 20-inch bronze-painted wheels and extra body-color trim. An optional Blacktop appearance package (also for the GT and R/T) is similar and fits the Durango with 20-inch, black-painted wheels and a variety of black-out exterior trim items. Other options include black running boards and bright pedals (Mopar Running Board package), a second-row console with armrest and storage (includes an in-console, 12-volt power outlet and a USB charge port), a dual-screen rear entertainment system (with Blu-ray compatibility) and a trailer-tow package.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
Families that spend lots of time in the car would be wise to consider the road-trip-ready Durango. Passenger space is unusually generous, especially in the third row, where adults can actually sit comfortably — a rare luxury. The rear doors are also enormous and open to nearly 90 degrees, making for easier entry and exit. A flip-and-fold second-row seat (optional on the SXT and standard on the others) further facilitates passenger movement.
Materials quality is unremarkable for the segment, but that says more about the segment's high standards than the Durango's shortcomings; it has plenty of soft-touch surfaces and minimal cheap ones. It's just that some competitors are nicer overall and offer more visually interesting designs to boot. The Durango still has a leg up on most rivals when it comes to the 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen, which boasts large virtual buttons, logical menus and helpful secondary physical controls. Whether you're tech-savvy or tech-averse, we think you'll find it to be one of the best systems out there.
The Durango's maximum cargo capacity of 84.5 cubic feet is competitive, and its 47.7 cubic feet behind the second row is on the large side. The space behind the third row is limited, as expected, but it is at least wide and deep enough for a large golf bag. It also features an available cargo cover that can conceal the area behind both the second and third rows if needed.
Standard on every 2017 Dodge Durango are antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, a driver knee airbag and full-length side curtain airbags. A rearview camera and rear parking sensors are optional on the SXT and standard on all other Durangos.
The 8.4-inch touchscreen system comes bundled with emergency assistance and stolen vehicle tracking. Getting the Technology Group and Safety/Security and Convenience Group add more advanced safety technologies to certain trim levels.
In government crash tests, the Durango earned an overall safety score of four stars (out of a possible five), with four stars to total front-impact safety and five stars for side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the Durango a top Good score in its moderate-overlap front-impact test as well as a Good score for the side-impact, roof strength, and head restraint (whiplash protection) tests. In the small-overlap front-impact, however, the Durango earned a second-worst Marginal score.
In Edmunds emergency stop testing, a Durango V6 with rear-wheel drive came to a stop from 60 mph in 124 feet, while one with all-wheel drive did it in 125 feet. Both distances are average for this class.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
With the exception of the R/T, every 2017 Dodge Durango comes standard with a 3.6-liter V6 good for 290 horsepower (295 hp on the Citadel or with the Blacktop package) and 260 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive are standard, and all-wheel drive is optional. Also standard is an automatic stop-start system that shuts down the engine when the car stops in order to save fuel.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the V6 stand at 21 mpg combined (19 city/26 highway) with rear-wheel drive and 21 mpg combined (18 city/25 highway) with all-wheel drive. Properly equipped, the Durango V6 can tow 6,200 pounds, which is more than most competitors are rated for.
In Edmunds testing, a Durango V6 with RWD accelerated to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds, while one with the V6 and all-wheel drive did it in 8.1 seconds. These results are acceptable but well off the pace of the segment's best.
A 5.7-liter V8 good for 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque is standard on the R/T and optional on the Citadel. It, too, has an eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive as standard, while its optional all-wheel-drive system includes a low-range transfer case for improved off-road performance.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the V8 is 17 mpg combined (14 city/22 highway) with either rear- or all-wheel drive. The Durango V8 can tow a maximum of 7,400 pounds, a muscular figure that's bettered only by truck-based SUVs.
The Dodge Durango is heavy for its class. An all-wheel-drive Honda Pilot, for instance, tipped our scales at a remarkable 837 pounds less than an all-wheel-drive Durango (4,250 pounds versus 5,078 pounds). It's no wonder, then, that the Durango's V6 engine sometimes feels taxed, and although Dodge's engineers have done their best to mask this SUV's mass when you're driving around turns, it can still feel like a handful.
One area where the Durango's weight likely helps is the ride quality. There's a take-command feel to the way it rolls down the road, and we even found the ride comfortable when outfitted with big 20-inch wheels. There's more to like with the available V8 engine, which cranks out impressive power for quick acceleration and confident towing. It also makes those classic American V8 sounds that just about anyone will appreciate.
The 2017 Dodge Durango has more attitude than the typical three-row crossover SUV. Its aggressive styling and brawny V8 engine set it apart, while its abundant passenger space and plentiful features mean your family will be well taken care of. If you're ready for something different, the Durango could work out well.