2019 Dodge Durango: A Different Kind of SUV

When any market starts to get saturated, people will start to look for something different, something that stands out from the crowd. And sometimes, different is hiding in plain sight. The 2019 Dodge Durango is a fine example of just this.

In a world of increasingly homogenous SUVs designs, the 2019 Durango is a breath of fresh air. Let’s take a closer look at why this Dodge dares to be different.

Exterior Styling

It’s perhaps ironic that the Durango’s relationship to one of its Dodge siblings, the Dodge Charger, is a big part of what makes it different. Like the Charger, the Durango has been around in its current generation for quite a while now. In fact, in modern vehicle terms, the Durango and Charger generations are close to prehistoric. Five or six years is normally the limit for a modern vehicle generation, but like the Charger, the Durango has benefitted from serious cosmetic refreshing that could easily fool you into thinking this is another generation and not the one that went into production in 2010.

Basically, the Durango looks like an SUV take on a muscle car. And in its SRT form, it even has the performance to go with the look. The Durango looks aggressive, and if there’s such a thing as a muscle SUV, this is it.

Engines and Performance

A crossover SUV capable of seating up to seven people needs enough power to handle a full load, but the Dodge Durango does far more than just enough. The standard powerplant is a 3.6-liter V-6 that develops 293 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, which is sent to the rear or all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. A dual exhaust option is also available for the V-6, which increases the output to 295 hp.

For a lot of buyers, the V-6 will be perfectly adequate. If you want more power, the next step up is a 5.7-liter V-8 producing 360 hp and 390 lb.-ft. of torque. But that’s not the end of the story by any means.

Go for the Durango SRT and you’ll have a 6.4-liter V-8 under the hood putting out 475 hp and 470 lb.-ft. of torque. Although it’s a very powerful engine, the 6.4-liter V-8 works really well in the Durango. And the eight-speed automatic transmission is a fabulously quick-shifting unit that works wonderfully with all three powerplants.

Although there’s a bit of body roll with a vehicle this tall, the Durango actually drives and handles extremely well in bends and turns. It really is a lot of fun. The ride can be a little form for some tastes, but that’s intrinsic of almost any great handling vehicle and part of what makes the Durango such a character.

Capability

The Durango isn’t really an off-roader, even in its all-wheel-drive variants. This is an SUV aimed squarely at the road. There’s no low-range for the all-wheel-drive system, and there isn’t the kind of ground clearance you’d want for navigating challenging wilderness trails.

On the other hand, the Durango can handle a multitude of different on-road tasks. As well as seating up to seven people, V-6 versions can tow up to 6,200 pounds, the 5.7-liter V-8 can tow up to 7,400 pounds, and the 6.4-liter V-8 combines ferocious acceleration with the ability to tow as much as 8,700 pounds.

Interior

Although the interior of the Dodge Durango can be very comfortable, and even luxurious, there aren’t really family-friendly amounts of interior space. The front seats are fine, but the second row isn’t hugely generous and the third-row seats are really only for children. All the swagger the Durango delivers comes at a price, so it’s not the most practical midsize crossover for families. It’s not cramped, but it’s not the most spacious model in its class.

Even at the entry level, the interior of the Durango is impressive in terms of quality of materials. Higher-specification models have interiors that can stake a plausible claim to be as good as German rivals costing considerably more.

Features and Equipment

The 2019 Dodge Durango costs between $30,195 and $62,995 depending on the trim level and options you select. Base models come standard with a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, tri-zone climate control, keyless entry, and a rearview camera.

GT models appear to represent the best value. Although third-row seating, 20-inch alloy wheels, and unique styling are the only major upgrades, the GT is the first model where active-safety gear, second-row captain’s chairs, leather upholstery, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible are available.

The Good

  • Distinctive styling
  • Impressive performance
  • Luxurious interior

The Not-So-Good

  • Can be thirsty
  • Below-par safety scores

The Last Word

The 2019 Dodge Durango might not be the most flexible and spacious midsize SUV in its class, but there’s not much else it doesn’t do very well. It looks great in every trim level, and higher up the range it can look sensational. The performance puts a lot of rivals to shame, and there’s plenty of comfort and luxury available too. If you’re looking for a midsize crossover that stands out in a crowd, looks great, and drives even better, there’s nothing else to compare with the Durango at the price.

Grzegorz Czapski / Shutterstock

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