With the huge price spread between the entry-level 2019 Dodge Durango and its top-end SRT grade, you should expect a variety of driving experiences, as well. Dodge went out of its way to build into Durango a degree of capability simply not available in other 3-row crossovers. It’s towing prowess, when appropriately equipped, is dazzling. If the purchase price and fuel economy don’t turn you off, the SRT with its 475-horsepower HEMI V8 catapults from 0-to-60 mph in less than five seconds.
For those shopping for less volatile Durango versions, you will save some cash on fuel, but you will still be piloting a vehicle that’s anything but nimble. Interior trappings are just so-so, and build quality a bit lackluster. Roomy enough for adults, the third-row seat only offers two seat belts.
Whatever your ultimate reason for purchasing a Durango, you will be making some trade-offs.
What’s New for 2019?
Most of the changes involve new options for specific grades. Blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is now a free-standing option on all grades. Citadel, R/T and SRT models now offer an optional 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. Available on all trim levels, an integrated trailer brake is included in the trailer-tow package. See the 2019 Dodge Durango models for sale near you
What We Like
- More towing capability than most crossovers
- Secure ride
- Adult-friendly third row easily accessed by huge rear doors and flip-folding second row
- Unique SRT model
What We Don’t
- Sluggish acceleration with V6
- Subpar fuel economy with V8
- Unremarkable interior design and quality
- Most safety tech only available on top trims
The Durango’s standard engine is a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 290 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The Citadel trim has 295 hp. An 8-speed automatic transmission, automatic stop/start and rear-wheel drive (RWD) are standard, while all-wheel drive (AWD) is optional. Its towing capacity of 6,200 pounds bests most rivals, which typically max out at 5,000 pounds. Fuel economy with RWD is 19 miles per gallon in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg in combined driving — a few mpg worse than the class-best. It’s basically the same with AWD.
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 390 lb-ft of torque. The V8’s larger size and extra torque bump towing up to 7,400 pounds, but fuel economy drops considerably to 14 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/17 mpg combined with RWD or AWD. On average, that equates to spending $700 more per year on gas compared to the V6.
If you want to spend even more, consider the new Durango SRT. Sure, it sucks down fuel to the tune of 13 mpg city/19 mpg hwy/15 mpg combined, but it also has a 6.4-liter V8 good for 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. AWD is standard. Dodge says the Durango SRT will go from 0-to-60 mph in 4.4 seconds, which is pretty much insane for a 3-row family crossover.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 Dodge Durango comes in five trim levels: SXT, GT, Citadel, R/T and SRT. It’s easy to be confused by the available trims because the marketing folks have thrown together an SXT Plus and GT Plus with a couple of extra features, as well as a Citadel Anodized Platinum version, but these aren’t really separate trims. AWD is standard on the SRT and a $2,600 upgrade on all other trims. All prices reflect the $1,495 factory destination charge.
The SXT ($31,690) gets things rolling with 18-in alloy wheels, automatic headlights, a backup camera, tri-zone automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 7-in touchscreen, a USB port, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a 6-speaker audio system. Three rows of seats are standard, but two can be specified as an option on the SXT only.
The GT ($37,135) adds special exterior styling elements, 20-in wheels, LED running lights, rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming driver mirror, power-adjustable front seats, driver memory settings, heated front and second-row seats, leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, two USB ports and an 8.4-in touchscreen.
The Citadel ($44,490) has a power lift gate, a sunroof, xenon headlights, automatic wipers, upgraded brakes, chrome-clad exterior trim, upgraded leather seating and extended interior leather trim, a power-adjustable steering wheel, ventilated front seats, an integrated navigation system and a 9-speaker sound system. A version that’s absurdly known as the Citadel Anodized adds a couple of appearance upgrades.
Platinum ($47,765) essentially features different exterior and interior trim. This is also the first trim where you can add the V8 engine.
The R/T ($45,490) comes standard with the V8, plus a sport-tuned suspension and steering, special styling elements and a Beats audio system.
The new SRT ($64,490) adds further upgraded brakes and steering, a sport-tuned adaptive suspension, special styling, Nappa leather and simulated suede upholstery and second-row captain’s chairs. Full leather seats and a second-row bench are optional. You can also delete the third row.
Note that many of the upper trims’ extra features are available on lower ones without option packages. Other options include blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, second-row captain’s chairs, a towing package and a rear entertainment system that features two screens, a Blu-ray player and an HDMI port. Available only on the upper three trims is the Technology Group, which adds a variety of accident-avoidance tech detailed in the Safety section below.
The 2019 Dodge Durango comes with a backup camera, front-side airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags and a driver-knee airbag. The Technology Group adds forward-collision warning and automatic braking, lane-departure warning and keeping, adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems. The latter two items are available separately on all grades.
In government crash testing, the Durango earned 4-star overall and frontal ratings and a 5-star side rating. The nonprofit 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 second-worst Marginal rating. Its crash-prevention tech was rated Superior.
Behind the Wheel
The Durango traverses bumps gently and remains comfortable and secure at highway speeds. This is a large vehicle, though, and you’ll never forget it from behind the wheel. Its steering is very slow for a crossover, and you’ll be constantly reminded of just how much weight you’re lugging around. Not only can it be cumbersome around corners, but its standard V6 engine feels taxed despite having just as much horsepower as its competitors. Opting for one of the V8 engines corrects this issue, but then you’ll be taking a massive fuel economy hit.
But then, if you’re looking to tow something behind your 3-row family crossover, the Durango is your best bet. It comes close to matching full-size SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe, but with a more usable and accessible third-row seat and (despite earlier criticisms) better maneuverability. Plus, if you’re looking to smoke high-powered sport sedans at traffic lights, the new Durango SRT can do that, too.
In terms of space, the Durango is quite good for the segment despite only offering seat belts for seven. Adults can fit in the third row, and getting back there is aided by a huge back door that opens nearly 90 degrees and a second-row seat that flips and folds far forward. The interior ambiance is pretty dull, and materials quality is unremarkable, though, ceding ground to most competitors and its 2-row cousin, the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Ford Explorer — Recently updated with a new look and new technology, the Explorer is a formidable rival to the more truck like Durango. It’s not as utilitarian as the Durango, but it’s certainly more fuel efficient and maneuverable.
2019 Chevrolet Traverse — The redesigned Traverse offers a truly enormous interior, and its V6 drivetrain is perhaps a smidge better than the Durango’s. Forget about off-roading or serious towing, though.
2019 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 Ford Expedition — If you need more capability and space than the Durango provides, you’ll probably need a full-size truck-based SUV. In that case, try a used Ford Expedition at this price point. Its cabin isn’t as nice as the Chevrolet Tahoe’s, but it has a smoother ride and a far more usable third row seat and cargo area.
It’s hard for us to recommend a vehicle that returns 17 mpg. 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 and start/stop technology further increase efficiency, and it still can tow more than any of its crossover competitors. Beyond that, make our Durango a GT — we think it’s worth the price premium over the rather basic SXT model. It even looks better. Find a Dodge Durango for sale