When you think “Dodge” you often think “Hemi” – thanks to a successful ad campaign – but the new Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 is a practical choice for the big, seven-passenger Durango SUV because it delivers better fuel mileage than a Hemi.
By TOM STR2ONGMAN
Of course, the brute power of a Hemi-powered Durango is tons of fun, but most of us are willing to trade acceleration for efficiency. The V-6 Durango is no slouch because it can tow 6,200 pounds and it has a driving range of 550 miles on one tank of fuel.
The Pentastar is the first new Chrysler V-6 engine in a decade, and it sports 290 horsepower. I drove a 2013 that had a five-speed automatic, but the 2014 model will have an eight-speed automatic. That should yield better fuel economy and a nicer driving experience. Fuel economy is rated at 16 city and 23 highway for four-wheel drive.
With four-wheel independent suspension, almost 50-50 weight distribution and responsive steering and handling, the Durango has driving dynamics better than what you typically find in a sport utility.
In normal driving, the Durango was as quiet and smooth as many luxury sedans. The heated and cooled leather seats, navigation system, three-zone climate control, Uconnect Bluetooth system and nine-speaker audio system added greatly to creature comforts. The ride was supple yet firm.
The Durango’s styling is simple and uncluttered, almost to the point of being boring. I prefer that kind of look to one that is gimmicky and busy because it will wear well over a longer period of time.
I drove the top Citadel model, and it was equipped with adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitor, forward collision warning and a load-leveling rear suspension.
The V-6 all-wheel-drive system does not have an extra low range, and while that might limit its off-road capability, it is something that only a small handful of buyers will find useful. Those that require the extra low range can get it with the Hemi engine.
Three-row SUVs are popular with families who do carpooling or have more than two children. The Durango can accommodate seven people, thanks to the folding third-row seat. The test vehicle was equipped with second-row captain’s chairs that make it easier for entry to the third row. The optional second-row console is handy for extra storage.
Third-seat legroom is tight, and there is not much luggage space when the third seat is up, but that’s pretty standard for all but the largest SUVs.
Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes, vehicle stability control and front, side and side-curtain airbags. Hill-start assist keeps the vehicle from rolling backward on steep roads, and trailer sway damping is useful for towing.
The base price of the test car was $42,195. Options included adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitor, forward collision warning, trailer tow package, second-row captain’s chairs, class IV trailer hitch, second-row console, heavy-duty alternator and illuminated rear cup holders. The sticker price was $46,775.
Three years or 36,000 miles, with a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Tom Strongman’s e-mail address is email@example.com.