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2016 Dodge Durango: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader June 2016

The 2016 Dodge Durango is the rare SUV that isn't just a tall station wagon with tough-guy styling cues. Based on the popular Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Durango's rear-wheel-drive platform gives it real credibility as a workhorse, whether you're towing things or heading off-road. The Grand Cherokee's carlike ride and handling are present here as well, so the Durango gives up nothing to the Ford Explorers of the world as a suburban errand runner. Imagine that: an SUV that genuinely provides the best of both worlds.

Of course, the Durango isn't perfect. Its chief problem is a thirsty V8, an issue that remains even after Dodge recently replaced the SUV's 5-speed automatic with a new 8-speed. Also, while the Durango's third-row seat is handy, it's far from the roomiest you'll find.

But one look at the Durango's striking styling -- or one prod of the V8 model's accelerator -- might be enough to sell you. If you want a real SUV without the usual compromises, the Durango is among the best of its breed.

What's New for 2016?

The Durango makes a few small changes for 2016, including a newly standard start/stop mode for V6 models, a new transmission sport mode and several newly standard features in the upscale Durango R/T.

What We Like

Serious power and towing capacity from optional V8; pleasant ride; 3-row flexibility; handsome styling

What We Don't

Subpar fuel economy with V8 engine; third row is pretty tight; design starting to get older

How Much?

$31,500-$43,400

Fuel Economy

The Durango's standard engine is a 3.6-liter V6 that registers 290 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Those are competitive numbers, especially considering the Durango's 6,200-lb towing capacity with its base-level engine. With rear-wheel drive and the standard 8-speed automatic, fuel economy is 19 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway; opting for all-wheel drive drops those figures to 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy.

Standard on the Durango R/T and optional on the Citadel trim is a 5.7-liter V8 that churns out a more satisfying 360 hp and 360 lb-ft of torque. The V8's larger size and extra torque bump towing up to 7,400 pounds, but fuel economy drops to 14 mpg city/23 mpg hwy with rear-wheel drive or 14 mpg city/22 mpg hwy with optional 4-wheel drive.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Dodge Durango comes in four trim levels: SXT, Limited, Citadel and R/T. Dodge also offers a value-oriented SXT Plus model this year.

The SXT ($31,500) gets things rolling with 18-inch alloy wheels, tri-zone automatic climate control, a manual tilt-telescopic steering column, keyless access and ignition, a 5-in center touchscreen, 3-row seating, automatic headlights, Bluetooth phone connectivity, cruise control and a 6-speaker audio system with an auxiliary input jack. The SXT Plus ($33,500) adds a power driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, roof rails and satellite radio.

The Limited ($38,000) adds a backup camera, rear parking sensors, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, an 8.4-in center touchscreen, Bluetooth audio connectivity, power-folding mirrors and remote ignition.

The luxurious Citadel ($42,300) tacks on a navigation system, HD Radio, a power lift gate, a power sunroof, ventilated front seats, a 9-speaker stereo system, a power passenger seat, 20-in alloy wheels, automatic high beams and wipers, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel. The Citadel also offers the Durango's V8 engine as an option.

Finally, the sport-themed R/T ($43,000) adds an upgraded Beats audio system, a sport suspension, a further enhanced interior and a standard V8 powertrain.

As far as options, many features standard on higher trim levels are also available on lower ones. Other options include a rear entertainment system, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with automatic braking, a CD player, a Towing package and a Blacktop package with gloss-black trim.

Safety

The 2016 Dodge Durango comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags. Options include virtually every modern safety feature, including a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision warning, automatic pre-collision braking, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise control.

In crash testing carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Durango garnered an overall rating of four stars out of five, including four stars for frontal impacts, five stars for side impacts and three stars in the rollover test. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Durango the highest possible rating of Good in every category except the firm's challenging small-overlap front crash test, where it earned a mediocre Marginal rating.

Behind the Wheel

The Durango traverses bumps gently and remains quiet at highway speeds. This is a large vehicle, though, and you'll never forget it from behind the wheel. Still, the Durango handles better than something this size has a right to, especially with the R/T's performance-oriented suspension. Among tough rear-wheel-drive SUVs, the Durango's driving experience stands out as one of the very best.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Ford Explorer -- Recently updated with a new look and new technology, the Explorer is a formidable rival to the more trucklike Durango. It's not as utilitarian as the Durango, but it's certainly more fuel efficient and maneuverable.

2016 Chevrolet Traverse -- The Traverse offers a comparatively hulking cargo bay, and its V6 drivetrain is perhaps a smidge better than the Durango's. Forget about off-roading or serious towing, though.

2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee -- If you don't need the Durango's third-row seat, we strongly recommend checking out the Grand Cherokee, which is basically a smaller, nimbler version of the Durango with a nicer interior.

Used Chevrolet Tahoe -- If you like the Durango's selling points but want more size and more capability, consider the Chevrolet Tahoe, which comes standard with a V8. It's pricier, though, so you may need to consider a used model instead of a new one.

Autotrader's Advice

It's hard for us to recommend a vehicle with fuel economy of 14 mpg city/22 mpg hwy, so as much as we love the 5.7-liter V8, we'd have to go with the far more efficient V6. Its 8-speed automatic transmission makes it feel even faster than before, and new start/stop technology further increases efficiency. Make ours a Limited -- we think it's worth the price premium over the rather basic SXT model.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Dodge Durango: New Car Review - Autotrader