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2021 Dodge Durango Review

There are several perfectly good reasons to buy a 2021 Dodge Durango. It’s a roomy midsize crossover that offers three seating rows with comfortable accommodation for up to seven adults — not just five grown-ups and two little ones. It also has stout towing abilities.

So far, so sensible. Where the 2021 Durango takes its own path is when there’s a V8 engine under the hood. There are three choices. One will drive the luxurious Citadel trim and the entertainingly sporty R/T version. Another propels the high-performance SRT 392 with 475 horsepower, enabling it to rush from standstill to 60 miles per hour in only 4.4 seconds. Pretty crazy for a 3-row family crossover.

The third V8 takes the Durango to another level. This engine is in the new-for-2021 SRT Hellcat version, which is almost a second faster (3.5 seconds) than the 392 in the sprint to 60 mph. That’s a heck of an achievement for something that weighs almost three tons. It also has a top speed of 180 mph.

There are more polished 3-row crossovers, like the Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Traverse, but for absolute performance and towing talent, the Durango is unbeatable.

What’s New for 2021?

The new Durango SRT Hellcat is the most powerful production SUV, with a 710-hp supercharged V8 and a track-ready setup.

The whole 2021 Durango range receives exterior styling updates that includes new LED headlights as standard. And the cabins now have a redesigned dashboard with a thinner center stack and better stowage.

The infotainment systems have been upgraded, with a new Uconnect 5 system going into the higher trims. Dodge says this is five times faster than last year’s Unconnect 4.

The optional towing package has been upgraded, allowing a maximum towing capacity of 8,700 pounds (last year’s maximum was 8,600 pounds). Smartphone integration and charging can now be wireless. See the 2021 Dodge Durango models for sale near you

What We Like

  • More towing capability than most crossovers
  • Secure ride
  • Adult-friendly third row with easy access
  • Breathtaking SRT Hellcat model

What We Don’t

  • Mediocre acceleration with the V6
  • Subpar fuel economy with the V8
  • Unremarkable interior design and quality
  • Most safety tech only available on top trims

How Much?

$33,260-$85,000 (estimated, Hellcat pricing TBA)

Fuel Economy

The Durango’s basic engine is a 3.6-liter V6 producing 293 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The GT and Citadel trims have 295 hp, thanks to a dual exhaust system. An 8-speed automatic transmission, automatic stop/restart and rear-wheel drive (RWD) are standard, all-wheel drive (AWD) is optional.

Towing capacity is 6,200 pounds, better than most rivals, which typically max out at 5,000 pounds.

At the time of compiling this review, there were no fuel consumption estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But we don’t expect them to differ much from 2020’s figures.
The V6 with RWD achieved 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’s best. With AWD, it was 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined.

A 5.7-liter V8 that’s standard in the Durango R/T and optional in the Citadel trim generates 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. Towing ability rises to 7,400 pounds. But so does fuel consumption, to 14 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/17 mpg combined in 2020, regardless of the number of driven wheels.

The Durango SRT 392 has a 6.4-liter V8 developing 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard. Last year’s fuel consumption was 13 mpg city/19 mpg hwy/15 mpg combined.

The SRT Hellcat deploys a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that sends an extraordinary 710 hp and 640 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels. We anticipate something in the region of 11 mpg city/17 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined.

Standard Features and Options

The 2021 Dodge Durango comes in SXT, GT, Citadel, R/T, SRT 392 and SRT Hellcat trim levels. All-wheel drive is standard in the SRT trims and optional in the rest of the range.

SXT ($33,260) has seating for five, 18-in alloy wheels, LED headlights/daytime running lights/fog lamps, tri-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry/ignition, height-adjustable driver’s seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, self-dimming rearview mirror, three 12-volt outlets, Uconnect 4C infotainment system, 8.4-in touchscreen, satellite radio, Bluetooth phone/audio, four USB ports, Apple CarPlay/Android Audio smartphone integration, and a 6-speaker audio system.

GT ($37,460) brings seating for seven, plus exterior styling elements, 20-in alloy wheels, and rear parking sensors. It’s also eligible for more options than the SXT trim.

The R/T ($46,800) has the 5.7-liter V8, sport-tuned suspension and steering, special styling elements, remote start, front parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high beams, heated side mirrors (self-dimming on the driver’s side), heated steering wheel, power-adjustable steering column, heated front/second-row seats, 8-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, leather/simulated suede upholstery, memory settings, powered lift gate, memory settings, 115-volt outlet, universal garage door opener, Uconnect 5 infotainment system with a 10.1-in touchscreen, navigation, wireless smartphone integration, Amazon Alexa compatibility, and a 9-speaker/506-watt Alpine sound system.

R/T trim is eligible for Brembo brakes and a heavy-duty towing package.

Citadel ($49,300) reverts to the V6 engine and the regular suspension as standard, but receives all the advanced driver aids, along with chrome exterior accents, powered sunroof, heated/ventilated front seats, Nappa leather upholstery with extended interior leather trim, plus heated captain’s chairs and a center console for the second row.

The SRT 392 ($64,490) sees its 6.4-liter V8 complemented with upgraded Brembo brakes, sportier steering, sport-tuned adaptive suspension, model-specific styling details and aerodynamic additions,  all-wheel drive, self-leveling headlamps, and Nappa leather/simulated suede upholstery with embroidered SRT logos.

The new-for-2021 Durango SRT Hellcat (est. $85,000) rumbles with the hellacious supercharged 6.2-liter V8 driving all four wheels, replaces with fog lamps with more air intakes, has its own aerodynamic setup, alloy wheels and badges. Buyers choosing this or the SRT 392 model receive a day’s tuition in high-performance driving.

Many features in the upper trims are available at the lower levels, such as blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, second-row captain’s chairs, towing package, and a rear entertainment system that features two screens, Blu-ray player and an HDMI port. The SRT models may also be ordered with a 19-speaker/825-watt Harman Kardon audio system.

The Technology Group package is available in all trims but the SXT is (standard in the Citadel), adding a variety of accident avoidance tech detailed in the Safety section below. Some rivals have these driver aids as standard.

Safety

The 2021 Durango comes with 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, and adaptive cruise control. Blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is available separately in all variants, except for the Citadel where it’s standard.

In crash testing carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Durango earned an overall 4-star rating (out of a possible five) and for front impact protection, and a 5-star rating for side impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Durango the top rating of Good in every category except for the 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 is spacious for its class. Adults can fit in the third row, and accessing that space is helped by a huge back door that opens nearly 90 degrees, as well a second-row seat that flips and folds. However, the quality of materials is unremarkable compared with most competitors, including its two-row cousin, the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Bumps are flattened, and the Durango remains comfortable and secure at highway speeds. This is a large vehicle, though, which the driver can never forget. Its steering is slow for a crossover and there’s no disguising the vehicle’s weight.

Not only can it be cumbersome around corners, but its standard V6 engine feels taxed despite having just as much horsepower as its competitors. The V8 engines correct this issue, but fuel economy takes a hit.

Anyone planning to tow with their three-row family crossover will still find the Durango appealing. It comes close to matching full-size SUVs such as the Chevrolet Tahoe, but with a more usable and accessible third-row seat, along with (despite earlier criticisms) better maneuverability.

Cargo space is also useful, going from 17.2 cubic feet with all three rows up, to 85.1 when the second and third rows are folded down.

Anyone planning to leave sports cars in a cloud of tire smoke, while simultaneously receiving cries of excitement and/or admonishment from passengers, then the new Durango SRT Hellcat sounds ideal. It re-calibrates a driver’s expectations of what an SUV can do.

Other Cars to Consider

2021 Ford Explorer — The Explorer is a formidable rival. It’s not as utilitarian, but certainly more fuel efficient and maneuverable.

2021 Chevrolet Traverse — Offers a truly enormous interior, and its V6 drivetrain is slightly better than the Durango’s. Forget about off-roading or serious towing, though.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee — If third-row seating is not required, check out the Grand Cherokee, which is essentially a smaller, nimbler version of the Durango with a nicer interior.

Used Ford Expedition — For greater capability and space than the Durango provides, a full-size truck-based SUV like a used Expedition will do the trick. Its cabin isn’t as nice as the Chevrolet Tahoe’s, but it has a smoother ride, a more usable third-row seat and a larger cargo area. Check out Ford’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program.

Questions You May Ask

Is the 2021 Dodge Durango Reliable?

Regarding reliability and longevity, the Dodge Durango scores about average, level with the Ford Explorer and GMC Acadia, but behind the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. The Durango’s resale values also rank about mid-pack.

How many people can fit in a Durango?

The Durango can accommodate up to seven. However, unlike some other 3-row SUVs, that full complement can be all adults, even in the third row. Captain’s chairs in the second row of the top three trims (optional in the others) bring the occupant count down to six. The Dodge Durango also has a large cargo area, although the second-row seat does not slide (as in, say, the Mazda CX-9).

Is the 2021 Dodge Durango a gas guzzler?

It depends on the engine. The standard V6 delivers decent muscle and fuel efficiency in line with most of its V6-powered competition. However, although the V8s bring superior tow ratings and acceleration times, they also result in city fuel economy in the low-to-mid teens. Highway mileage isn’t much better.

Autotrader’s Advice

One of the big reasons for choosing a 2021 Durango over the competition is to acquire a V8 engine. Those seeking to keep fuel bills low will no doubt be looking elsewhere. So the R/T trim is a good starting point, with lots of standard equipment and more than enough muscle for most people. Make sure to add the driver aids in the Technology Group package and the blind spot monitoring system. Find a Dodge Durango for sale

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