Under the Hood: 2018 Dodge Durango
Since Fiat and Chrysler merged, the partnership has struggled to be competitive in the North American market, let alone the international market. Chrysler hasn’t really built a truly great car in recent years. Sure, there’s the Viper and the Hellcat, though the latter shares its underpinnings with the Mercedes E-Class of the late 1990s. Chrysler seems to have lost its way, and they have fallen into a cycle of recycling and rehashing old products to try and be competitive.
Newsflash, it hasn’t worked. The 2018 Durango is fundamentally the same since it was redesigned for the 2011 model year, and it is as overpriced and as awful as it was from launch. Interestingly, it shares its platform with the W166 Mercedes M-Class, but don’t let that fool you into thinking the Durango is a force to be reckoned with.
Prices start at $29,995 for the base SXT model. For the GT model, prices start at $37,495. The posher R/T variant can be had for $42,095. The luxury-oriented Citadel is yours for $41,495. Additionally, an SRT variant will be available for $64,090 in 2018.
The Dodge Durango has a total of five trim levels for the 2018 model. The base model, the SXT, comes with Chrysler’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. The GT is available with your choice of 3.6-liter V6 or 5.7-liter V8 power, as does the Citadel. The R/T is V8-only. The upcoming SRT variant will have Chrysler’s proven 6.4-liter V8. All variants have all-wheel drive available, which is a standard feature on the base SXT and range-topping SRT models. Rear-wheel drive is a very unpopular option, and it will likely be phased out in the coming year, if not months.
The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 available in the SXT, GT, and Citadel variants produces 293 horsepower and 260 ft-lb of torque. This is good for a 0-60 time of 7.4 seconds when fitted with all-wheel drive. With rear-wheel drive, it is slightly slower at 7.6 seconds. Whether you choose rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, you get a woeful top speed of around 193 kmh. With the 5.7 V8 available in the GT, Citadel, and R/T models, you get 360 horsepower and 529 newton-meters of torque. This yields a respectable 0-60 time of 6.2 seconds when fitted with all-wheel drive, and a 210 kph top speed.
The upcoming SRT variant yields more promising figures than those listed above. It is considerably more powerful, with a whopping 475 horsepower and 637 newton-meters of torque. This is enough to take the Durango from 0 to 60 in just 4.4 seconds. Dodge has yet to release its top speed stats, though outside sources claim it will reach a stratospheric 175 mph. An SUV weighing over 2,400 kilos and yielding such figures is totally mind blowing.
When equipped with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, the Dodge Durango achieves a gas mileage of 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. When fitted with the 5.7-liter V8, it drinks 14 mpg city, 21 mpg highway.
Safety and Entertainment Features
The 2018 Dodge Durango has the same basic safety features you’d expect on a modern SUV. The Durango comes standard with your typical front, side, and curtain airbags. Additionally, Dodge’s “ParkView” rearview camera is available as an option. Rear parking sensors are also an available option.
Adaptive cruise control is quite a neat feature that was first available in the 2016 model year Durango. The Durango also has a feature called “rain brake support,” which applies pressured air to the brake disc to remove any water that may have accumulated on the brake. Brake-force vectoring is a standard feature, which distributes braking force at each wheel. The Durango is equipped with brake assist, traction control, blind spot monitoring, and rain-sensing wipers as well.
Depending on trim level, the 2018 Durango is very well equipped. Nappa-leather trimmed seats are an option, as are heated and ventilated (note: not cooled) driver’s and front passenger seats. It also has triple-zone climate control, which is integrated into its needlessly over complicated infotainment screen, which features GPS, radio, random apps, media, and controls for various other features besides the climate control.
It also has a feature Chrysler likes to call “Mission Control,” which is just a fancy word for their new digital cluster display. This display shows the GPS screen, fuel economy data, and various warning messages. The steering wheel features paddle shifters and numerous buttons controlling the radio, cruise control, phone commands, and the “Mission Control” display.
How It Stacks Up Against the Competition
While the 2018 Dodge Durango is seemingly well equipped and competitively priced, it is no match for its competition. The vast majority of the features listed above were tacked on in the last two years, while this iteration of the Durango was released in 2010. When you compare it to its competition, the 2018 Dodge Durango is, at best, average. It’s in the same price bracket as the infinitely better Jaguar F-Pace, which starts at $41,990. For that, you get leather interior, a turbocharged inline-four, and all-wheel drive standard.
The problem with the Durango is that it tries to be something that it’s not. With the base model, it is a simple, everyday SUV that does what it says. When you begin to throw more money at it, it tries to be a luxury SUV like a Range Rover, even though it is far from such a feat.
- Reasonably well equipped, especially in higher trim levels
- Decent fuel economy for a big V8
- Competitively priced
- Good towing capacity
- Aging design
- Dismal acceleration
- No diesel option
- Questionable build quality