Out there somewhere is a power-mad soul who needs a three-row crossover that tows 8200 pounds and runs the 0-60 sprint in 4.4 seconds.
Not at the same time, obviously. But still.
There's only one rig that can lay claim to such feats, the 2019 Dodge Durango ($31,390). The Durango’s three-engine lineup includes a 290-horsepower V-6, a 360-hp V-8 and the headline-grabbing 475-hp V-8 that powers the Durango SRT ($62,995).
Durango debuted in 1997 as a truck-based sport-ute. In 2011, Dodge moved it onto a new car-style unibody. But rather than fitting it with a front-wheel drive drivetrain, a crossover convention, Dodge moved Durango’s drive wheels to the rear.
Crossover comfort, rear-drive dynamics
Shifting drivetrain weight rearward improved vehicle dynamics and allowed Dodge to shove a heavy V-8 under the hood without disrupting front/rear balance.
The strategy gives the seven-passenger Durango the comfortable ride of a crossover, the dynamics of a rear-drive vehicle and the tow capacity of a truck.
A ‘tweener, the Durango is bigger and heavier than its midsize competitors. It can be a handful in a parking lot and it lacks the nimble athleticism of smaller and lighter rigs but, underway, its bulk melts away.
Its compliant suspension tames rough road surfaces. At highway speeds, the cabin is quiet and comfortable, the ride smooth and stable.
Adult-friendly third row
Durango is one of the few three-row crossovers whose third row accommodates adults. Large rear doors ease ingress and egress and a flip-and-folding second-row seat allows easy third-row access.
Cabin design, materials quality and fit-and-finish are quite good, but trail the segment leaders. The latest version of Chryslers’ powerful and intuitive uConnect connectivity suite can be had with a class-leading 9-inch touchscreen. High-end audio and infotainment systems are available and upper trims can be equipped with the latest safety and driver-assist technology.
Five trims, three powerplants
Durango is available in five trims: SXT, GT ($35,840) , Citadel ($44,390), R/T ($45,390) and SRT.
A 3.6-liter V-6 that produces 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque powers the SXT, GT and Citadel.
The R/T gets a 5.7-liter V-8 that makes 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque.
An eight-speed automatic is standard.
All-wheel drive R/Ts get a low-range transfer case, a driver’s best friend on a slippery boat ramp or when easing a heavy load down a steep decline.
The top, AWD-only SRT trim is the one that sets pulses pounding. Its 6.4-liter V-8 (Dodge endearingly publishes the drag-strip-friendly 392-cubic-inch metric) makes 475 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque.
Properly equipped, six-cylinder Durangos can tow 6,200 lb., the R/T is tow-rated to 7,400 lb. and the SRT goes astronomical at 8,700 lb.
V-6 proves worthy
For 2019, Dodge applies numerous trim-level upgrades. The SXT now can be ordered with leather seats. Citadel and R/T are available with a new 825-watt Harman/Kardon stereo. Second-row captain’s chairs are standard in the Citadel. The GT can be ordered with the R/T’s power-dome hood with a functional hood scoop and aggressively styled front fascia.
All Durangos can now be ordered with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts and, as of this year, the Trailer Tow package includes an integrated trailer brake.
We tested a Durango GT optioned with the R/T hood.
Its V-6 powerplant produces a 0-60 run in a tick or two over 7 seconds. Its 6,200 tow rating leads the segment.
With a light load on two-lane roads, the GT mustered enough punch to blow by slower traffic.
Steering feel is lightly weighted and vague on center, but the Durango tracks well in its lane. The system is non-communicative but accurate.
Durango’s comfort-oriented suspension allows enough body lean to render the Durango happier on the interstate than on a winding two-lane.
With its three-engine portfolio and rear-drive platform, Durango breaks some rules on its way to providing three-row shoppers with choices they won’t find elsewhere.
Questions or comments? Contact Don at email@example.com.
2019 Dodge Durango GT Blacktop AWD
Vehicle base price: $31,390
Trim level base price: $37,045
As tested: $54,655 (includes destination and handling)
Options included leather interior; sunroof; 506-watt Alpine audio system; uConnect navigation with 8.4-inch touchscreen; adaptive cruise control; rain-sensing wipers; 20-inch high-gloss aluminum wheels; rear-seat entertainment system; tow package with integrated brake control; second-row captain’s chairs; performance hood.
Tow rating: 6,200 pounds (7,400/8,200 lb available)
EPA rating: 21 combined/18 city/25 highway
Regular unleaded fuel specified