Today’s buyer preference for SUVs, both large and small, saw Dodge Durango increase sales 14% last year, a much larger percentage increase than two of its major three-row SUV competitors: Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Traverse, both American made.
Despite being owned by global automaker Stellantis, Durangos sold in the US are manufactured in Detroit, Michigan, avoiding import tariffs.
However, low inventory due to chip unavailability and supply chain issues, means shoppers have to negotiate prices above the base Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $49,220, if they crave an SUV sounding like a 1960s-1970s muscle sedan.
Seating seven, Dodge Durango has ear-catching exhaust growl at low speeds and muscular howl under hard acceleration, with moderate racetrack cred, and luxury and comfort features to accommodate family vacations.
We test-drove the R/T Plus (Road/Track) which means upgraded suspension, 20-inch tires, brakes and the more powerful 5.7-liter, V8 Hemi engine with 360 horsepower. Trims are SXT, GT, GT/Plus, R/T, R/T Plus, Citadel and SRT 392.
Three seating rows, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are now standard across all trims and R/T Plus adds leather seats, sunroof and upgraded audio.
Last year, Durango again won J.D. Power’s prestigious APEAL award, besting 32 brands worldwide, even though Durango’s last full makeover was in 2011.
It continues to have exceptional towing capacity (ours was equipped for 8,700 pounds) and excellent performance during off-road adventure with several drive modes, including track, snow, mud, etc.
Our options included the technology safety package with dynamic cruise control, collision warning and second-row entertainment screens. Durango’s crash safety rating is 4 out of 5.
Handling was composed with good grip in turns for a 2½ -ton vehicle and the quietest cabin among competitors.
Cylinders reduce to four at steady highway speed to reduce gas consumption; we still only got 14.9 miles per gallon in mixed city/highway driving.
Poor mileage can be ignored when loving a versatile workhorse vehicle with six drive modes, spacious seating in all rows, reclinable second row and excellent cargo hauling capacity above a spare tire.
The interior eschews wood trim and mixes stitched leather and black materials with accents of chrome and carbon fiber. Knick-knack spaces are plentiful, highly-touted Uconnect hooks up Internet apps; there is a wireless charger. Some navigation mapping was outdated.
The 10.1-inch touchscreen was intuitive to use and content rich. Knobs operate features like radio and climate.
At a Glance
LIKES: Power/engine growl, ride, off-road chops, handling, tech features, towing muscle
DISLIKES: Gas guzzler, spotty mapping, automatic braking missing
BOTTOM LINE: Good for racetrack alone or city streets with family
Fact File: 2022 Dodge Durango R/T AWD Plus
5.7-liter, V-8, Hemi
360 hp at 5,150 rpm
390 lb.-ft. at 4,250 rpm
8-speed automatic w/manual paddles
13 mpg city and 19 mpg
24.6-gallon tank, regular or premium
0-60 in just over 6 seconds
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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics, and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested worldwide market.