Although Dodge's full-size Durango was all new for 2011, the automaker still found a few ways to improve the popular SUV for the new model year. Updates to the 2012 Durango include a new seating configuration, updated pricing and other minor revisions designed to give it an extra edge in its competitive segment.

Inside, the 2012 Durango benefits from newly available second-row captain's chairs. While the new second row reduces seating capacity from seven to six, it undoubtedly gives second-row passengers a more comfortable ride by providing them with individual seats. The traditional bench seat will also remain available for those in need of seven seats.

Other revisions to the Durango - while small - help keep the SUV fresh for the new model year. According to Dodge, fuel economy for V6-powered all-wheel drive Durangos increases by 1 mile per gallon for 2012, while V8 versions gain an updated automatic transmission with manual shifting capabilities, allowing drivers to choose their own gears. The large SUV's trim levels have also been simplified, with last year's "Heat" and "Express" models dropped in favor of Dodge's traditional "SXT" and "R/T" trims. However, the Durango will carry over its "Crew" and upscale "Citadel" trims for 2012.

"There is simply no compromise with Durango," said Reid Bigland, Dodge brand's president and chief executive. "Only Durango offers standard seven-passenger seating, best-in-class power, best-in-class towing and best-in-class driving range of more than 500 miles, while also delivering unmatched style and driving dynamics."

If sales figures are an indication, many car shoppers agree with Bigland's sentiments. Last month, the Durango found 5,222 buyers, outselling rival SUVs like the Toyota Sequoia, Nissan Armada, GMC Yukon and Ford Expedition.

Dodge says the 2012 Durango will start at $28,995 before destination - a $200 drop compared to the 2011 model. The new Durango will arrive in dealers later this year.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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