The Dodge Durango is in the crowded category of three-row SUVs but it’s also in a class by itself. Heavy on the horsepower and able to out-tow the competition, Durango is more like a muscle car with lots of utility.
Durango’s engine lineup tells the story: a 3.6-liter V6 rated at up to 295 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque with a 6,200-pound towing capacity; a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 making 360 hp and 390 lb-ft with a 7,400-pound towing capacity; and a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 good for 475 hp, 470 lb-ft, and hauling up to 8,700 pounds. All three tow ratings are best-in-class.
For 2019, Durango gets some changes to its standard features and options lists, and adds the availability of an 825-watt, 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system on three of its models.
Durango is available in SXT, GT, Citadel, R/T and SRT trims. Pricing starts at $31,390 for the SXT with rear-wheel drive.
My tester was a Durango GT with the V6 engine and all-wheel drive. The GT model has a new performance front fascia for 2019, and the tester also sported an optional SRT hood with a functional center air inlet duct flanked by heat extractors. As if that didn’t pump-up the brawn enough, it also had the Blacktop Package, which means 20-inch by 8-inch high gloss black aluminum wheels, and gloss black exterior mirrors and badging.
Those Blacktop accents contrasted beautifully with the white body color, whose official name is a fun one: White Knuckle.
The V6 doesn’t attract the attention of the V8 engines, but it has nothing to be ashamed of. There’s plenty of punch, and the more moderate consumption of fuel is definitely attractive. The tester’s rating is 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined. As with all models in the Durango lineup, an eight-speed automatic transmission is standard.
Durango’s reputation for power and performance is visually reinforced by its somewhat blockish exterior, but inside it’s a real sweetie. The ride is gentle and kind, and very little unwanted noise finds its way into the cabin. There’s a fantastic amount of room, and the two-seat third row isn’t confined to just small children.
With a middle row bench seat, Durango has seating for up to seven people. My tester was outfitted with optional middle row captain’s chairs, reducing the maximum passenger count to six but increasing ease of access to the third row via pass-through. Even with child safety seats installed in both chairs, there’s enough room to walk between them.
Whether bench or chair, second row seats fold and tumble. The front passenger seat also folds flat, creating space to carry long items like 10-foot lengths of lumber. With all seats engaged, the rear cargo area measures 17 cubic feet. Pop down the third row and the space expands to 43.3 cubic feet. Tumble the second row and you’re up to 85.1 cubic feet. The floor is flat in all configurations.
For 2019 all Durango models offer an integrated trailer brake when equipped with the optional Trailer Tow package. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross path detection is also available as a stand-alone option.
Durango’s long list of option packages gives buyers the ability to keep it simple and more affordable, to selectively add a few features they have need of or are especially fond of, or to go all-out and get nearly everything imaginable (as the tester did). The latest in driver assistance systems, connectivity and infotainment technology, and comfort and convenience indulgences are all there, to accept or reject according to budget considerations and personal preference. Even with a full boat of optional equipment in every category, the tester’s price tag is below $55,000. That’s impressive.
2019 DODGE DURANGO GT AWD
Base price, including destination charge: $38,440
Price as driven: $54,655
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.