REVIEW: 2017 Dodge Durango GT AWD

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Could the Dodge Durango be a muscle car for the family?

We at Dodge Forum truly enjoy burning rubber, tackling the quarter-mile, and showing off our beloved American muscle at every car show possible. That being said, there’s no escaping life, and for many of us that means family, kids and lots of — stuff.

To us, the Dodge Charger Hellcat is easily the most badass “family” sedan in the world, but the truth is that modern families require more room and more convenience. Whether it’s higher seating capacity, TV screens, or all-wheel drive, SUVs simply make sense. My family and I recently spent a week with Dodge’s take on the full-size SUV, and I can tell you we’re looking and we’re liking!

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The 7-Passenger Challenger

I realize calling the Durango a “7-passenger Challenger” is super-cheesy. I once heard someone say it, and I busted out laughing, but guess what: the more I drive the Durango, the more I believe the saying to be true.

The Durango has remained largely unchanged since its debut in 2011, although its current exterior design emerged from a revision performed in 2014. Most folks would consider that fairly old, and the truth is… it is. Like several FCA vehicles, the Durango’s design isn’t new, but it works darn good, just like it does in the Challenger, Charger, and even the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

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The Durango’s main focal point is definitely its rear end. The long and ultra-cool taillight assembly makes it stand out from the rest, day or night. Simple and clean lines carry from the tailgate all the way to the front where the Durango possesses a mean look emphasized by our press car’s Granite Metallic paint.

“The Durango looks as good as it does because of how nicely the shadows develop on the bodyside. It helps smooth out a large surface rather than adding a lot of creases like some other manufacturers do,” commented a friend of Dodge Forum who currently studies automotive design in Detroit.

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The Muscle

We live in a time when a vehicle’s performance and character can drastically change at the push of a button. Whether it’s to relax things, or hype them up, technology has altered the driving experience undisputedly.

The 3.6-liter V6 engine found in the Durango GT pumps out 295-horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Now, clearly this isn’t the most powerful SUV in the Dodge lineup (wait for the Durango SRT), but it’s no slouch either. During our week-long test, the Durango felt powerful, yet relaxed. Acceleration came without hesitation, and it didn’t leave me wishing to use “Sport” mode. In fact, I only tinkered with “Eco” and “Sport” out of curiosity, and not necessity.

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Thanks to features like auto start/stop, the Durango is able to rescue some valuable mpgs, but at the end of our test we averaged 17 mpg combined. Full highway driving stints returned around 22 mpg. Keep in mind that at 6,200 pounds, the Durango has one of the highest towing capacities in the segment.

Can It Family?

The 2017 Dodge Durango can be configured to carry either six or seven passengers. Our particular press car featured the second-row captain chairs with fold and tumble features that allowed them to move out of the way rather easily. This package also includes a mini-console that fits in between the two captain chairs, offering even more cargo cubbies and cup holders.

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At $48,765 (including a $1,095 shipping charge), our Durango GT AWD included five options totaling $7,575. Those options were the Customer Preferred Package 23E, which includes a plethora of convenience features, but more importantly: Beats premium audio, Uconnect 8.4 GPS navigation, power liftgate, sunroof and Sirius XM radio. The somewhat mandatory (at least I couldn’t live without it) safety and security package added automatic headlights, automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring and rain-sensing wipers.

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Lastly, the one feature that won the popular vote: the rear entertainment center. At $1,195 it’s a tough gulp to swallow, but if you road-trip often and value your sanity, the DVD/Blu-Ray system with wireless headphones is a must.

Overall

Anyway you look at it, the 2017 Dodge Durango is a tried-and-true SUV. This isn’t a new concept. It’s not a “let’s see if people buy it” kind of model for Dodge. The SUV segment has been thriving, is thriving, and will continue to thrive for years to come. Even in V6 guise, the Durango still brings lots of attitude and “badassness” to a rather bland segment.

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If you’re looking for an SUV that offers a mixture of cool and smart with a pinch of American muscle, you won’t find a better choice than the 2017 Dodge Durango.

CHECK OUT: What Forum Members Are Saying About the 2017

Photos [napcarphotographysg.photo]

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