2020 Dodge Durango

By April 24, 2020

Big and powerful, the 2020 Dodge Durango is a crossover SUV that suggests brute force while providing the practicality of a minivan. Though the aging design is outdated next to some rivals, the Durango retains some stature in the field, helped by an available high-performance model and the ability to seat up to seven passengers across three rows.

New badges adorn the Durango R/T model, which also rides on new 20-inch wheels. A newly optional premium interior package includes a suede headliner and instrument panel with accent stitching.

Three powerful powertrain options are offered. The standard engine is a stout, well-proven 3.6-liter V-6, pushing out 293 horsepower (295 with sport exhaust) and 260 pound-feet of torque.

Stepping up a notch, the 5.7-liter V-8 produces 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. This motor is standard in the sporty R/T model and optional for the Citadel trim.

Topping the powertrain trio is the SRT, which packs a 6.4-liter V-8 that whips out 475 hp and 470 lb-ft, and includes a batch of performance upgrades. The big V-8 is borrowed from SRT editions of Dodge’s Challenger coupe and Charger sedan.

All engines are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Except for the SRT, rear-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available. The SRT comes only with AWD.

Gas mileage is nothing to boast about. With RWD, the V-6 Durango is EPA-rated at 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 21 combined. AWD lowers the city and highway figures by one mpg each. Mid-grade gasoline is needed with the 5.7-liter V-8, which is rated at 14/22/17 mpg with either rear- or all-wheel drive. The SRT achieves 13/19/15 mpg and requires premium fuel.

Safety is a sore spot on the Durango’s resumé, due largely to its elderly platform. The NHTSA gives the Durango only four stars overall. While the RWD model got a four-star rating for rollover prevention, the AWD version gets a mere three stars in this area. Meanwhile, it failed to earn a designation from the IIHS and received a “Marginal” score in the small overlap front crash test on the driver’s side and for its headlights.

Further hurting its safety credibility is a complete lack of any standard active safety features. Some features are available, but only through extra-cost packages.

Automatic emergency braking, active lane control, lane-departure warnings, and adaptive cruise control come in a package, but it isn’t even available until the GT Plus trim level.

Model Lineup

The Dodge Durango is available in five main trim levels: SXT, GT, Citadel, R/T, and SRT.

The base SXT model starts at $31,990 including destination. It’s powered by the V-6 engine and comes with cloth upholstery, automatic headlights, 18-inch wheels, three-zone automatic climate control, and 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Five-passenger seating is standard, but the third row is optional. The SXT Plus sub-trim ($36,085) adds the third row, satellite radio, rear parking sensors, an eight-way power driver’s seat, and roof rails.

The $36,140 Durango GT adds a performance front fascia, 20-inch wheels, LED fog lights, the third-row bench seat, a fold-and-tumble second-row seat, and the power driver’s seat. The GT Plus ($40,490) gets heated front and second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, a power liftgate, remote start, a security alarm, and a 115-volt power outlet.

The Citadel costs $44,490 and gets an array of luxury features, including Nappa leather upholstery, a dual rear exhaust setup, 20-inch platinum chrome wheels, second-row captain’s chairs, and an 8.4-inch touchscreen with navigation. The Citadel Anodized Platinum sub-trim ($47,765) also includes ventilated front seats, perforated Nappa leather upholstery, and unique chrome accents.

The sporty $45,490 R/T steps up to the 5.7-liter V-8 and also includes a sport suspension, performance steering, black leather/suede seat upholstery, and “HEMI” badge. AWD models get a low-speed transfer case.

The top-dog SRT model is priced from $64,490 and uses the 6.4-liter V-8 with standard all-wheel drive. The SRT benefits from cooling-system upgrades and a Bilstein active-damping suspension. Black 20-inch wheels, a flat-bottom steering wheel, HID headlights, active noise cancellation, and SRT drive modes and Performance Pages are also standard.

Exterior

Sharp-looking in any form, Dodge’s big crossover SUV flaunts its defiantly muscular body. If any vehicle deserves to be dubbed a “muscle SUV,” it’s the Durango.

Though showing its age, the Durango’s smooth body echoes Dodge’s muscle-car lineup. Especially in R/T and stellar SRT form, sculpted lines, a honeycomb grille, and optional hood scoops inspire pleasant reminders of the Charger sedan.

On some versions, the wide, bold front end features hood scoops. Full-width taillights attract notice at the rear.

Interior

The Durango’s vast, configurable interior hasn’t aged quite as well as its body, failing to grab as much attention. High-grade materials are used for a simple symmetrical design, with rounded corners. Large knobs and buttons on the simple center stack are clearly within reach.

Up to seven occupants can be seated in a three-row Durango, but few will feel jolly for anything beyond a short jaunt. Five adults will have ample space, but four will be considerably more comfortable.

Firm, chairlike front seats provide good long-distance support. Big and comfortable, they offer plenty of adjustments. Two adults can expect similar comfort in the second row. Three abreast will feel squeezed, despite the Durango’s sizable body. The standard second-row seats fold forward.

Adults can withstand the third-row seats, but only for short trips. Split 50/50, they fold flat under the floor.

Behind the third row, storage volume totals 17.2 cubic feet, which beats some three-row SUVs but falls short of minivans. Folding the third-row seat expands space to 47.7 cubic feet. With both rear rows folded flat, there’s space for 84.5 cubic feet of cargo – an impressive amount.

Driving Impressions

Even though it’s less than contemporary in behavior and features, the Dodge Durango still possesses a few tempting attributes, starting with off-road capability. On the pavement, too, each version performs well, from the capable and efficient V-6, to the energetic V-8 in the R/T, to the all-in SRT.

Briskly delightful, the SRT packs a forceful 475-hp V-8 that promises a dazzling, heady experience, but at a hefty price.

Dodge’s 8-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly and decisively, avoiding the uncertainty that bothers some multi-speed automatics.

Durango passengers can anticipate a generally comfortable journey. Still, ride quality tends to be inconsistent. It’s comfortable overall, but turning stiff at times – at least, in less-luxurious trim levels.

Considering its size, the Durango feels nearly nimble. Steering is precise and nicely weighted.

Durangos aren’t exactly silent, but the sounds emanating from the R/T’s V-8 engine are enticing, not irritating. Towing capacity reaches 6,200 pounds with the V-6, rising to 7,400 pounds with the 5.7-liter V-8.

Final Word

Not many crossovers or SUVs deliver anything like the tough-truck looks and muscle-car performance that’s available with the 2020 Dodge Durango. Dodge’s big family utility vehicle shows its age in two ways: safety and fuel economy. Its lack of active safety features is a notable demerit, and crash-test ratings are hardly impressive. Competitive models provide better value overall, but the best Durango choice is the GT edition.

 

—by James M. Flammang, with driving impressions from The Car Connection

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