2016 Dodge Durango

Starting MSRP: $30,495 - $41,995

Estimated MPG: 19 city / 27 hwy

2016 Dodge Durango Review

With rugged good looks that set the aggressively-styled SUV apart in a sea of swoopy and soft crossovers, the three-row 2016 Dodge Durango offers a duo of high-power engines and family-friendly comfort for up to seven passengers.

By Chris Brewer
Last Updated 05/03/2016

The 2016 Dodge Durango is a three-row SUV that seats six or seven passengers, depending on the trim level and options. Available with rear- or all-wheel drive, the four-door Durango is powered by a V6 or V8, both of which mate to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The 2016 Durango is available in SXT, SXT Plus, Limited, Citadel and R/T trim levels.

Exterior

Exterior
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Where the majority of today’s crossover SUVs offer a more delicate design, the 2016 Dodge Durango has gone the opposite way, with a bold style that exudes a connotation of refined power and muscle. But the Durango doesn’t get carried away with performance gimmicks; the SUV’s design is simple and purposeful. The oversized large front grille is more than a styling statement; the opening feeds the optional V8 engine with the oxygen needed to generate the SUV’s 360 horsepower. The Durango’s hood, with its symmetrical creases, is a throwback to ‘60s muscle cars that made the brand and its Hemi engines iconic.

The base Durango receives a bright chrome grille and chrome accents throughout the design. The Rallye Package and R/T add a powerful monochromatic appearance with dark-tinted headlamp bezels, as well as a body-colored grille, front and rear fascias, wheel flares and sill moldings. Inspired by the current Dodge Charger, the Durango’s rear LED “racetrack” lights provide a unique fingerprint for the SUV that makes it immediately recognizable even in the dark. The R/T model is also lowered by 20 mm, which adds to the already menacing appearance. When you start up the massive V8 and blip the throttle, the Durango R/T is downright intimidating.

While I find the Durango - especially my test R/T Blacktop edition - attractive, I can imagine that the husky, aggressive character may not be everyone’s top choice for a daily driver. I’m certainly not going to try to convince anyone of the Durango’s appeal, but I am glad that Dodge has decided to continue to offer an SUV that exudes the toughness and confidence of the Durango.

Interior

Interior
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The three-row Dodge Durango offers a spacious well-appointed cabin. The base model features cloth seating for seven, and unlike many seven passenger vehicles the Durango actually has good passenger space in all three rows. Controls are thoughtfully presented and easy to reach. The Durango’s center console features plenty of cargo space and a nifty rotary gear shifter that looks great and enhances the useful interior space by ditching the often cumbersome traditional gear shifter.

Much like the Durango’s exterior, the interior is built to withstand plenty of use without wearing out or breaking prematurely. The rugged nature of Dodge’s SUV is apparent on the inside, but the Durango strives to find a balance between utility and luxury. The upholstery resists tearing and scratches, but feels soft to the touch. Three-zone automatic climate control is standard, adding to the easy comfort of this three-row SUV.

I did find the sport-themed R/T badged seats in my review vehicle to be firmer than I like. My wife found the additional support a nice feature, but to my middle-aged back the seats simply felt punishing, especially after a two hour trip. I own a 2007 Dodge Charger R/T with similarly designed seats that offer about the same amount of bolstering but are much softer. While I am sure that the Durango’s seats will grow more comfortable over time, I’d be hesitant to recommend them to anyone who needs a vehicle for long regular commutes. Thankfully, the standard seats are much softer, although they lack the cool design found in the R/T model’s seats.

Cargo space is fair but jumps to great when you start reclining seats. Dodge brags that the Durango offers up to 50 different seating configurations, which for all intents and purposes is limitless. With all seats in place the Durango offers 17.2 cubic feet, which expands to a maximum of 81.5 cubic feet when you lower the second and third rows.

Performance

Performance
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The base 2016 Dodge Durango is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces 295 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. My review vehicle was powered by the optional 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine that generates 360 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. All 2016 Durango trim levels are also available with all-wheel drive. V6-powered models can tow up to 6,200 pounds, V8 versions can tow up to 7,400 pounds.

The 2016 Durango offers a nice balance of comfort and performance with a sport-tuned suspension that is forgiving on the roadway. It offers a firm ride, but rarely jostles. Steering the large SUV is surprisingly carlike and the brakes work well to stop the 5,000-pound beast without drama. The Durango’s base 3.6-liter V6 engine works well with the eight-speed automatic, returning an impressive 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway using regular unleaded gasoline. Those numbers dip slightly when configured with all-wheel drive to 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.

The 5.7-liter Hemi V8 offers 100 more pound-feet of torque, resulting in quicker sprints to 60 mph and better towing, but a penalty is paid at the gas pump. Even with the V8’s cylinder-deactivation program, fuel economy is a mediocre 14 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. The good news is that Dodge’s V8 is happy to sip on regular unleaded (though midgrade is the recommended fuel of choice). Another benefit to opting for the V8 is the incredibly beautiful growls that emanate from under the hood and through the exhaust. The rumble of the Hemi under full throttle conditions alone is well worth the V8’s cost of admission.

Technology

Technology
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The 2016 Dodge Durango arrives with a commendable amount of standard features including three 12-volt power outlets, tri-zone automatic climate control, remote keyless entry and power windows. A six-speaker audio system with a voice-activated Uconnect 5-inch touch screen and USB connectivity is included.

Moving to the Limited trim level adds an 8.4-inch infotainment system with Uconnect, satellite radio, and USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Uconnect is one of the best infotainment systems in the industry. The menus are easy to navigate, driver voice prompts are usually accurately translated and very little time is wasted trying to configure entertainment options. The navigation system found standard in the Citadel and R/T models (available as an option in the Limited) is accurate and the oversized 8.4-inch screen is easy to read.

Options include a rear-seat entertainment center that features video screens that are integrated into the front seat backs. When stowed they are all but invisible, but flipping them up offers excellent entertainment, whether it is by Blu-ray disc, DVD, or plugging a gaming system into the HDMI or RCA inputs. Audiophiles will appreciate the Beats 12-channel premium audio system.

Safety

Safety
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The 2016 Dodge Durango comes equipped with traction and stability control, trailer-sway control, anti-lock brakes with Ready Alert Braking and a comprehensive suite of air bags. All models except the base SXT include a standard rearview camera.

The Durango can be equipped with a high level of active safety technology including forward collision warning, rear park assist, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-path detection, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2016 Durango an overall score of four out of five stars for its performance in crash tests.

It received top scores of Good in most tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), though the Durango received the second-lowest Marginal score for its performance in the IIHS’ small overlap front crash test.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The base rear-wheel drive 2016 Durango SXT starts at $30,495, which represents excellent value in the segment. There are less expensive three-row crossovers, but few of them offer the utility and power of the Durango, never mind the SUV’s attractive styling. Moving to the SXT Plus adds satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio, a power-adjustable driver’s seat and more available options.

The Limited may be my favorite pick for value, performance and luxury. By spending $36,995 you add leather-appointed seating, which is heated in the first and second rows, as well as a heated steering wheel, a universal garage door opener, the 8.4-inch infotainment system and more.

My rear-wheel drive Durango R/T Blacktop started at $41,995. The R/T model includes the powerful V8 engine, remote start, a backup camera, rear park assist, heated and ventilated front seats, 20-inch alloy wheels, R/T interior and exterior packaging and more. My review vehicle also included a Technology Group package with full-speed forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring. It was also equipped with the rear-seat entertainment system, second-row captain’s chairs and the Blacktop package for a grand total of $48,270 (including a $995 destination charge).

Overall

Overall
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The aggressively-styled exterior may not be for everyone, but for many of us the Durango is the best-looking three-row SUV available from a mainstream brand. The level of utility and convenience make the Durango a top choice for families who need the extra space but want to avoid the minivan stigma. There is certainly a small premium to pay at the gas pump for the added power of the V8, but the combination of the Durango’s rough and ready looks and the snarl of the Hemi V8 are pretty tough to beat, especially if you need the extra towing power.