The 2011 Dodge Durango is all new, from its sleek, coke-bottle shape to its 4-wheel independent suspension and unibody construction. Built off a stretched version of the highly regarded Jeep Grand Cherokee platform, the Durango offers 3-row seating with 28 different configurations, 85 cu ft. of cargo space, and up to 7,400 pounds of towing capacity with the available 5.7-liter HEMI V8. The Durango can tow a heavy load and still ride and handle with carlike agility, all while offering a luxurious interior with soft-touch materials and making available the latest infotainment and safety technology.

The 2011 Durango is a smart used-vehicle choice for buyers desiring an SUV with full-size capabilities that drives smaller than it is.

What We Like

Muscular styling; seamless all-wheel-drive operation; upscale interior materials; engaging ride and handling; available HEMI V8; Uconnect infotainment

What We Don't

Automatic transmission has only five speeds; fuel economy could be better; high cargo lift-over height

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2011 Durango has two available engines. The Express, Heat, Crew and Citadel come with a Pentastar 3.6-liter dual-overhead-camshaft (DOHC) V6 with 290 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. With standard rear-wheel drive, it has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 16 miles per gallon in the city and 23 mpg on the highway, while 4-wheel-drive models are rated at 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy. A 5-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick sequential shifting is standard.

Standard on the Durango R/T and optional on Crew and Citadel models, the 5.7-liter overhead-valve (OHV) HEMI V8 produces 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. It runs on regular unleaded, but midgrade is recommended for best performance. A fuel-saver mode shuts down four cylinders when the vehicle is cruising with a light load. Rear-wheel-drive models are EPA-rated at 14 mpg city/20 mpg hwy, while 4-wheel-drive Durangos get a 13 mpg city/20 mpg hwy rating. V8 Durangos are also equipped exclusively with a 5-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick manual shift control.

Standard Features & Options

The 2011 Dodge Durango comes in Express, Heat, Crew, R/T and Citadel trim.

Typical Express equipment includes automatic tri-zone air conditioning, rear A/C, 7-passenger seating, cloth seat trim, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel with auxiliary audio controls, remote keyless entry, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with an MP3 decoder, Sirius Satellite Radio, auto headlamps, fog lamps, 18-inch alloy wheels, stability and traction control, trailer-sway control, hill-start assist, anti-lock 4-wheel disc brakes, the 3.6-liter V6 with a 5-speed automatic transmission, and power door locks, mirrors and windows.

The Heat trim offers most of the same standard equipment as the Express but is configured as a 2-row, 5-passenger model only. It gets body-colored monochromatic exterior trim, dual exhaust, 20-in alloys, a 9-speaker premium Alpine audio system, underfloor cargo storage and auto-leveling sport suspension.

Upgrading to Crew trim adds a power lift gate, power front seats with lumbar control, a driver's seat with memory, a garage door opener, rear cargo shade, rear park assist with a camera, push-button starting, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, and an Alpine premium DVD audio system with a 6.5-in touchscreen, a 28-gigabyte hard drive and voice command.

Selecting the R/T trim adds the 5.7-liter HEMI V8, HID headlamps, an auto-leveling sport suspension and 20-in alloys.

The Citadel trim is the all-in choice, with the available 5.7-liter HEMI V8, high-intensity headlamps with auto-dimming, a sunroof, 20-in chrome wheels, perforated leather seats, heated front- and second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, a power tilt-telescopic steering column, adaptive cruise control, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-path detection, forward-collision control, Sirius Traffic and navigation.

Popular options such as trailer towing, a rear DVD entertainment system, and upgrades such as leather seating, navigation, a sunroof, a heated steering wheel, 20-in wheels, adaptive cruise control, a backup camera, a blind spot monitoring system, forward-collision warning and more are available from the many option packages.

Pricing

Although the Durango doesn't have the interior space of a Grand Caravan or Town & Country, it's still quite a versatile and capable large SUV. At the same time, its muscular good looks and carlike ride and handling give it curb appeal that is sometimes lacking in less stylish and less capable competitors. Expect sporty rear-wheel-drive Durangos to maintain their value in the Southeast, Southwest and California, while all-wheel-drive models will command higher prices in the snowy Northeast and Upper Midwest.

To get a good idea of the prices of 2011 Durangos, check out the used-car values at Kelley Blue Book. You can also search the AutoTrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.

Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recall for the 2011 Durango:

A corroded vacuum-brake booster may admit water. If the water freezes in cold weather, the booster may not be able to provide sufficient braking force, increasing the risk of a crash.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

NHTSA did not rate the 2011 Durango for crash-test performance.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2011 Durango a Good rating for moderate-overlap front impacts, side impacts, roof strength, head restraints and seats.

The Chrysler Group covered the 2011 Durango with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty with roadside assistance, along with 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain and corrosion-perforation warranties.

Dodge certified pre-owned (CPO) cars cannot have more than 75,000 miles on the odometer and must be five years old or less. Every CPO Durango undergoes a 125-point inspection. Those that pass receive a 3-month/3,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, plus a 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty from the car's original date of sale. Also included is a Carfax report, 24-hour roadside assistance, car-rental allowance and a 3-month trial of SiriusXM Radio.

Other Cars to Consider

2011 Ford Explorer -- This isn't the old truck-based model that once was the best-selling SUV in the land, but a redesigned 3-row crossover based on a front-drive car platform. The sole powerplant is a 290-hp 3.5-liter V6, which is capable of an EPA-rated 23 mpg on the highway, but its 5,000-lb towing ability can't match the 7,400-lb rating of the Durango with its available 5.7-liter HEMI V8.

2011 Toyota 4Runner -- Legendary for durability and off-road capability, the 4Runner is an old-school SUV, right down to its high step-in height, sparse selection of amenities inside, and stiff, truck-like ride. A 4.0-liter V6 with 270 hp matched with a 5-speed automatic transmission is the only powertrain offering.

AutoTrader's Advice

A bit smaller and more stylish than the full-size-truck-based Ford Expedition and Chevy Tahoe SUVs, yet more muscular and expressive than front-drive-car-based crossovers, the Durango occupies unique territory in the market. We like the Crew trim, which has most of the features buyers are looking for and can be configured with either the 290-hp 3.6-liter V6 or 360-hp HEMI V8. If you tow, the HEMI is a good choice, but the V6 offers considerably better fuel economy. Always get a vehicle history report to be advised on the vehicle's background. Look for a certified pre-owned Durango, if possible, and check with the dealer to make sure that the SUV you are looking at buying has had its safety-recall items taken care of.

Find a used Dodge Durango for sale

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Ron Sessions first plunged into automotive journalism to support his aging fleet of patina-rich Alfa Romeos and Volvos. He has since huddled with all four major U.S. auto enthusiast magazines, launched a 4WD adventure magazine, and penned a Nissan Z car coffee table book and three Camaro restoration titles. Ron resides near the Motor City.

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