The Durango from Dodge has always been a fan favourite and even if you’re no fan of SUV’s like I am, the latest version still has quite a few charming aspects.
But charm is something that can sometimes have an expiry date. If you use the same charm all the time for years it starts to get old.
Dodge is aware of this so that’s why they made some refreshes for the 2021 model year.
Lookswise, most of the changes are upfront with newly restyle headlights which now finally feature LED’s instead of halogens. The grille is also redesigned as well as the front bumper.
Also now available on the GT trim is the Performance hood which basically makes the GT look an awful like it’s higher performance laden siblings. You can also get the Blacktop package, which was fitted to my tester, and that gives you a black roof, black wheels, black badging and more.
Overall, the Durango still looks great, but a complete refresh shouldn’t be left by the wayside for too long.
Inside you’ll find more changes for 2021, most notably the newly available 10.1 inch-touch screen available on all trims except the base. It also features the latest U-Connect 5 which, according to Dodge is five times faster. It’s been so long since I’ve driven a Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) vehicle that I can’t say for sure if that’s entirely true, especially since the old system was damned quick and responsive in the first place. Suffice to say, this new version will not disappoint regardless and still remains to be the best in the business, in your humble author’s opinion.
Other niceties inside include Apple Carplay and Android Auto capabilities, wireless phone charging, available safety features such as adaptive cruise, rain sensing wipers, lane departure warning and keep assist and more.
Under the hood you’ll find the tried and true 3.5 litre Pentastar V6 which is good enough for 295 horses. This engine would work well in something like, say, a Charger, but in the Durango it feels adequate at best. It feels as if it’s the bare minimum it needs. That’s not to say it’s slow, but you certainly can feel the engine working hard to get the the up to 5,500 pound porker off its feet. The same can be said for when it’s challenged by a modest hill or even a steeper hill. The Durango gets the job done, but the struggle to get there is still obvious.
That’s a minor criticism only because there’s of course plenty more engine options to choose from within the lineup such as the V8 Hemis and the upcoming 709 horsepower making Hellcat. Yes, 709. Wowza!
Still, most shopping in the segment aren’t likely to be shopping in those higher price points so something with a bit more oomph would be appreciated for those of us who aren’t social media influencers. A modest bump in power would be all it takes.
While the Durango is getting on in age you wouldn’t really be able to tell by how it drive. On the highway, the ride is so unexpectedly smooth that I wouldn’t hesitate to liken it to a Lexus. It really is that smooth and comfortable.
And while it certainly couldn’t be described as small, it doesn’t feel as cumbersome and clunky driving around the city as say a Chevy Tahoe. It’s almost right-sized for a three-row SUV. And speaking of those third row seats, while they aren’t spacious enough for adults on long-haul runs, they still can work for shorter runs. Fold them down along with the second row and you’ll find a cavernous 1,226 L of room.
My tester came equipped with the trailer tow group package which means you get trailer brake control, rear road leveling, heavy duty cooling and all the other things needed to tow. When it’s all said and done the Durango with the V6 can pull about 6,200 pound which is nothing to sneeze at.
Given this vehicle’s age, it is surprisingly still competitive in the segment. The added refreshes do a lot to keep the charm going as well. Faults are few and it feels right-sized. Just make sure to go for a more powerful engine if you can afford it.
Oh, and also try to go for my tester’s Ultraviolet metallic paint. In the pics it looks black, even in person, but when the sun hits it just right, this beautiful dark sparkly purple catches the eye. It’s quite the magic trick.
Durango Base Price: $43,769
Price As Tested: $62,710 including fees