2016 Dodge Durango SXT Review

A Big Softie

The Dodge Durango is based on a platform released in 2011. Needless to say, the Durango is getting long in the tooth, with a redesigned model expected to land in 2018. But how does the current model stand up against the modern competition? 

The large overhaul that is due for this SUV will no doubt bring some benefits, but we can’t help but feel like the Durango is already a great package.

First off, it can haul your entire family and all their stuff. With 38.6 inches of rear seat legroom and 33.5 inches in the third row, it’s easy to see how a vehicle this big can be appealing. Not only is there plenty of space for rear seat passengers to stretch their legs, but access to those rear seats is also quite generous, making the climb into the back less cumbersome.

With all the seats full with passengers, 17.2 cubic feet is available for cargo, while if the third row is folded down, you gain access to 47.3 cubic feet.

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Comfort at its Finest

Driving the Durango really accentuates its big, soft attitude. Unlike what GM did with its full-size SUVs in trying to make them handle tighter, the Durango floats and rolls down the road, offering a pillow soft ride inside. Taking hard corners is certainly not confidence inspiring, but then again, a vehicle like this doesn’t need to stay dinner plate flat through the twisties. What it needs to do is deliver top-notch comfort, and the Durango is spot on.

If inspiring driving dynamics are really your thing, you might want to look elsewhere for an SUV, especially considering how many great handling SUVs are out there these days. If big, boring and comfy is more your speed, the Durango is what you’re looking for, though its style doesn’t say “boring.”

A fascia that says “I’m pissed off” keeps the Durango looking like a mean machine, especially when outfitted with the Blacktop package like our tester was.

We tested a base model Durango SXT that comes exclusively with the brand’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, which puts out 295 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque, enough to motivate this nearly 5,000-pound rig up to speed with no issue. A big part of that is the eight-speed automatic transmission, a unit that shifts smoothly and is confident in its gear selection, with no hunting necessary.

The beefy 5.7-liter HEMI V8 with 360 hp is also available for those who want more power in high trim levels, though it’s also for those who are willing to drop even more at the gas station.

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With the Pentastar V6, the Durango is rated to return 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, while our week with the big SUV saw an average of 20 mpg. That’s actually not too bad for such a large SUV, but you can bet the big eight-cylinder unit is not nearly as miserly. That is something that will change when the redesigned Durango arrives.

Move Inside

While the top-trim Durango Citadel sports a proper luxury interior, our SXT model still offers all the things that count. The seats in the Durango are nice and plush, while the dash and center stack are a black plastic affair. While it may not win any style awards, the simplicity of the interior makes it easy to operate every function.

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The larger 8.4-inch UConnect system is available for the SXT model, but we had a chance to give FCA’s small 5-inch unit a test, and it proved to be just as good as its big brother. A splash of color gives the display and a nice feel and the buttons located around the small screen allow quick access to the system’s main features.

A display screen located between the gauges is similarly well laid out for easy access to key stats, though it lacks some of the color and personality of the center-mounted touchscreen.

Pricing

The Durango we tested sells for $33,095 in the U.S., while a base model sells for just over $31,000. That puts the starting price at slightly less than the Ford Explorer, but slightly more than the Nissan Pathfinder. A fully loaded Durango model sells for about $45,000, undercutting the most expensive Ford Explorer by about $7,000. Top trim Pathfinders also sell in the mid-$40,000 range.

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In Canada, the story isn’t quite the same. A base model Durango SXT starts at $43,395, while the model we tested rings in at $46,435. Compared to the Ford Explorer, that’s almost $10,000 over its base price of just over $33,000. The Pathfinder also starts right around $34,000, proving to be a lot less expensive than the big Dodge SUV.

The Verdict: 2016 Dodge Durango SXT Review

The V6-powered Durango is reminiscent of the first generation of SUVs that were all about being big and comfy. Along with a fairly efficient V6 and a nicely set up interior, this big brute proves that it is still a relevant product in a sea of updated SUVs and crossovers.

  • Frank Yoster

    I drove one of those..one of my buddies bought the RT edition…my god that car is nice and comfy and torquey!!!