Putting the “Sport” in Sport Utility Vehicle

Most manufacturers tend to focus on the “utility” aspect of SUVs, building big boxes capable of hauling lots of people and stuff, but with no more charisma than a minivan. The 2017 Dodge Durango bucks that trend, channeling some of the spirit of Dodge’s muscle cars and, in the form of an available HEMI® V8, some of their substance.

For 2017, the Durango benefits from a number of changes. The Limited trim level is replaced by the GT, and there are a host of small trim and equipment changes as well.

Performance

The 2017 Dodge Durango has a more aggressive attitude than most SUVs. This is not a segment known for sporty handling or excessively powerful engines, but Dodge continues to try to add a little excitement to the Durango with available features like sport-tuned suspension and a HEMI® V8 engine.

Even the base engine offers plenty of grunt to get this three-row SUV moving. It’s the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 that’s also offered in numerous other Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) products. In the Durango, it produces 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Citadel models, and models equipped with the Blacktop trim package get a boost to 295 hp (thanks to a freer-breathing dual exhaust), while torque remains the same.

The Durango also offers something virtually no other SUV in its segment does: V8 muscle. The 5.7-liter Hemi V8 produces 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are coupled to eight-speed automatic transmissions with rotary shift knobs and paddle shifters, for manual control. Rear-wheel drive is standard, with four-wheel drive optional. Dodge also quotes decent tow ratings for both engines: 6,200 pounds for the V6, and 7,400 pounds for the V8.

EPA-rated fuel economy for the V6 is 21 mpg combined (19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway)* with rear-wheel drive, while four-wheel drive models lose 1 mpg in the city and highway categories. The Hemi V8 is rated at 17 mpg combined (14 mpg city, 22 mpg highway)* with either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.

Features

The 2017 Dodge Durango is a five-door SUV with seating for five, six, or seven (depending on the model and seating options selected). It’s available in four trim levels, priced starting from $29,995.**

Even the base Durango SXT comes fairly well equipped, with features like automatic headlights, 18-inch wheels, a three-spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters, three-zone automatic climate control, and a full-length floor console. The SXT is available in a five-seat configuration with a 60/40 split-folding second row, or in a seven-seat configuration that adds a 50/50 split-folding third row.

For 2017, a new GT model replaces the previous Limited. In addition to the SXT’s standard equipment, this model features LED daytime running lights, remote start, 20-inch wheels, memory system, leather seats, heated front and second-row seats, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, SiriusXM® satellite radio, Uconnect® infotainment system with 8.4-inch touchscreen, and more.

In addition to the applicable standard equipment from the SXT and GT models, the Durango Citadel adds Nappa leather seats, power sunroof, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power tailgate, rain-sensitive front wipers, and upgraded Uconnect® Access infotainment system with 3D navigation, and live streaming Internet radio.

Finally, the R/T is the top Durango model, as well as the sportiest. It’s the only model offered with the 5.7-liter Hemi V8, and also features sport-tuned suspension with a 20-millimeter lower ride height, 20-inch wheels on performance tires, and monotone exterior. Other notable standard features include a BeatsAudio™ premium audio system, heated steering wheel, and HID headlights.

Optional equipment includes a towing package, skid plate package, and several appearance packages. Blacktop and Brass Monkey packages are available on the GT and R/T models, and an Anodized Platinum package is offered only on the Citadel.

Design

The 2017 Dodge Durango borrows muscular styling from the Charger sedan, including distinctive “racetrack” taillights. Up front is Dodge’s trademark crosshair grille, part of one of the most intimidating faces on any SUV today. The bulging fenders are more muscle car than family SUV.

The interior has a sporty feel as well. Dodge provides a three-spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters, although drivers not interested in playing Lewis Hamilton can use the rotary dial on the center console. This neat detail takes up less space than a conventional shifter, and electronics have made shift levers somewhat redundant anyway.

Safety

Standard safety equipment on the 2017 Dodge Durango includes anti-lock brakes, stability and traction controls, active head restraints, and seven airbags. Optional equipment includes a rearview camera, park assist, blind spot monitoring with rear cross path detection, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and advanced brake assist.

Verdict

With its aggressive styling and sporty attitude, the 2017 Dodge Durango stands apart from the average family SUV.

Be sure to contact us online or visit Stateline Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Fiat at 800 Gold Hill Rd, Fort Mill, SC 29708 to schedule a test drive.

*EPA estimates. Your mileage will vary depending on driving habits and conditions.

** MSRP excludes destination, taxes, title and registration fees. Starting at price refers to the base model, optional equipment not included. A more expensive model may be shown. Pricing and offers may change at any time without notification. To get full pricing details, see your dealer.

Image: Dodge