2018 Dodge Durango – In Depth Review

An automobile is full of compromises. If a car can accommodate your whole family and their luggage, it will be slow. If a car is small and fast, it will be cramped. And when you try to make a large, tall, and heavy car fast, it will be expensive. Fear not, the 2018 Dodge Durango is not bothered by these rules.

The Durango packs muscle car aura among mundane midsize SUVs with available 5.7L HEMI V8 and the classic “coke bottle” styling. It’s fun to drive through corners as well. The interior is classy and roomy with decent third row and cavernous cargo capacity. All that muscle also give it best-in-class tow capacity – by a wide margin. Also, the fuel economy is not especially bad.

Fiat Chrysler group has one of the most intuitive infotainment around and Durango does not disappoint here either. However, the Durango falls behind rivals in terms of safety. Also, a couple of years after ownership, efficiency may matter more than performance and rivals like Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer are more efficient. On top of that, it depreciates faster than rivals.

Things we like

  • Drives like a Muscle car
  • Looks like a Muscle car
  • Tows like a Truck
  • Roomy like a Minivan

Things we don’t like

  • Not as safe as the rivals
  • Not as efficient as the rivals

What’s new for 2018 Dodge Durango

  • Debut of new insane 475 hp Dodge Durango SRT
  • All 4-inch U-connect feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

2018 Dodge Durango Pricing and Options

There are 7 trims – from base and bare-bone Durango SXT ($29,995) to the psychopathic Durango SRT ($62,995). While the SRT gets AWD as standard, all other trims are RWD by default. AWD is a $2,600 option across lineup. A 3.6 L Pentastar V6 powers all but the RT models.

Durango SXT is sans of any luxuries and even third row is optional ($995). The Durango SXT plus ($33,490) packs more luxury and gets optional features like power sunroof ($1,195). The Durango GT ($37,795) goes aesthetically racy with dark 20-inch wheels and dual exhaust. However, it does get a minute increase in power (295 hp instead of 293 hp in SXT and SXT Plus).

Trims SXT SXT PLUS GT CITADEL R/T CITADEL ANODIZED PLATINUM SRT
MSRP(FWD) $29,995 $33,490 $37,795 $42,145 $43,695 $44,985 (N/A)
MSRP(AWD) $32,595 $36,090 $40,395 $44,745 $46,295 $48,740 $64,090
Features Perforated Leather-Wrapped Sport Steering Wheel.

Electronic T-Shifter.

 

Eight-Way Power Driver Seat

Sirius Satellite Radio

ParkView Rear Back-Up Camera with ParkSense Rear Park Assist System.

 

20-Inch Aluminum Wheels Dual Exhaust with Bright Tips.

LED Daytime Running Lamps.

Heated First- and Second-Row Seating.

High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Headlamps and Automatic High-Beam Headlamps with Automatic Leveling.

Nappa Leather-Trimmed Seating.

5.7L HEMI V8 Engine Performance Steering and Suspension.

Performance Front Fascia with LED Fog Lamps.

Soft-Touch Hand-Wrapped Instrument Panel with Live Stitch.

Nappa Leather-Trimmed Seating Heated Second-Row Captains Chairs.

6.4L HEMI SRT V8 Engine Performance-Turned All-Wheel Drive.

Brembo Six-Piston High-Performance Brakes.

There are two luxury themed trims – Citadel ($42,145) and Citadel Anodized Platinum ($48,740). The Durango R/T (43,695) gives a true muscle car flavor packing standard 5.7 L HEMI V8 along with performance steering and suspension. Then there is the bonkers Durango SRT with 475 hp 6.4 L V8, performance tuned suspension and dark mean looks.

Too many to choose from? We help you find the best trim

For those who are satisfied with just muscle car looks, the SXT plus at $33,490 is our recommendation as its more efficient than the rest and comes with plenty of standard and optional features. However, if you want a true muscle car experience, get the 5.7 L HEMI V8 equipped Durango R/T (43,695). Along with that V8 roar, it rides in a civilized manner with plenty of creature comfort.

2018 Dodge Durango Driving and Performance

If there is a mid-size SUV that can truly thrill, this is it. While the base Pentastar V6 is sufficient for everyday task with good fuel economy, the 5.7L V8 offers gusty performance. Although the steering and suspension can’t make this tall and heavy SUV feel like a proper muscle car, it corners far better than other SUVs in the market. With all these, the Durango can also become an effortless cruiser.

“Best of all, the Durango — even the sporty SRT model — offers a comfortable ride and quiet interior when just cruising around, with plenty of space for its seven passengers.” – Kelley Blue Book

Engine

There are three engines on offer – a 3.6L Pentastar V6, a 5.7L HEMI V8, and SRT exclusive 6.4L HEMI SRT V8. The V6 comes in two states of tune – 293 hp in two SXT trims and 295 hp on all higher trims. The V6 engines power output is average among competition and it can handle everyday driving effortlessly. While cruising, it emits a refined sound and the throttle response is linear.

Models Dodge Durango SXT Chevrolet Traverse Ford Explorer Honda Pilot
MSRP $29,995 $30,925 $31,990 $30,900
Engine 3.6L Pentastar V6 Gas engine 3.6L V6 Gas engine 3.5L V6 Gas engine 3.5L V6 Gas engine
Transmission 8-speed automatic 9-speed automatic 6-speed Automatic 6-speed Automatic
Power 293 hp @ 6400 rpm 310 hp @ 6800 rpm 290 hp @ 6500 rpm 280 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque 260 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm 266 lb-ft of torque @ 2800 rpm 255 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 262 ft-lbs. @ 4700 rpm

Next up is the throaty 5.7L V8 with 360 hp and 390 pounds-feet of torque. It pulls this big, hefty, three-row rig forcefully and reaches 60 mph from rest in 6.2 seconds. While it’s slower than the Explorer 3.5L Ecoboost, the V8 sound makes it feel far more exciting. If you can spend over $62k, the new 2018 Durango SRT with 475 hp 6.4L HEMI V8 is now in the dealership.

“With either the standard 293-hp 3.6-liter V-6 or the optional 360-hp 5.7-liter V-8, the Durango is a gutsy rig with plenty of dynamism for towing and merging into traffic.” – Car and Driver

Transmission

All engines are mated to an 8-speed automatic. Critiques have praised the automatic for its fast and predictable gear shifts. For all-weather performance, AWD is on offer for $2600.

“All Durangos use variations of the same 8-speed automatic transmission. This gearbox is one of our favorites for its buttery smooth, fast gear changes and predictable nature. It’s a terrific companion to any engine.” – Carconnection

Acceleration

The Durango equipped with base 3.6L Pentastar V6 can do 0-60 in 7.6 seconds – average among competition. However, the 5.7 HEMI V8 equipped Durango R/T can pull all 7 passengers and their luggage from 0 to 60 mph 6.6 seconds.

“Plenty of muscle at every level makes the 2018 Dodge Durango a hot-rod among family haulers.” – Carconnection

Models Dodge Durango SXT Chevrolet Traverse Ford Explorer Honda Pilot
0-60 MPH 7.6 sec 6.5 sec 7.7 sec 6.1 sec
Quarter mile 15.8 sec @ 89 mph 15.6 sec @ 97mph 16.0 sec @ 90.0 mph 15.1 sec @ 91.2 mph
Engine 3.6L Pentastar V6 3.6L V6 SIDI VVT Gas

 

3.5L V6 3.5L V6

 

Emission

Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year

8.4 8.4 9.8 8.0

Still waiting to see the insanity Dodge has unleashed in the new 2018 Dodge Durango SRT? Here are the stats:

  • 0-60 in 4.4 seconds
  • Quarter mile in 13.3 seconds at 104 mph
  • Top speed – 155 mph

Ride and Handling

The Durango is far more entertaining to drive than other more mundane Mid-size SUVs. As far as big SUVs go, the Durango has responsive steering and well-controlled body roll. Also, considering the capability, the ride quality is not bad.

Although the Durango has an overall sporty attitude, the SXT and Citadel trim ride with more compliance. However, if you want to see how close a three-row SUV can get to a muscle car, get the Durango R/T. If you are ready to spend, buy Durango SRT with Bilstein Active-Damping High-Performance Suspension for teaching your family how to hug an apex on a track day.

“The Durango’s steering is hefty but delivers precise handling in all models. Ride quality from SXT and Citadel models is firm but sufficiently supple; other models are stiffer with the SRT bordering on harsh.” – Carconnection

Braking

All Durango except the SRT gets 13-inch brakes on all four wheels. These brakes are assigned to slow down over 4700 pounds of SUV and they do their assignment properly. Stopping from 60 mph takes 12 feet – marginally slower than the best performer Ford Explorer (Explorer takes 120 feet). The Durango SRT gets fancier Brembo six-piston high-performance brakes.

Model Dodge Durango SXT Chevrolet Traverse Ford Explorer Honda Pilot
Brake pads-front(in) 13.0 12.8 12.6 12.6
Brake pads Rear(in) 13.0 13.0 12.8 13
Curb weight(lbs) 4680 4713 4901 4288
60-0 MPH (ft.) 121 126 120 128

Towing Capacity

The Durango is right there with the full-size trucks when it comes to towing capability. Even the standard 3.6 Pentastar V6 equipped Durango has a tow rating of 6200 pounds – over 1000 pounds more than the nearest competition – Chevy Traverse.

Model Dodge Durango SXT Chevrolet Traverse Ford Explorer Honda Pilot
Capacity (lbs) 6200 5200 5000 5000
Drive Train RWD FWD FWD FWD
Power Train 3.6L 3.6L 3.5L 3.5L

For pulling even larger items, get that charismatic 5.7L V8. Now you have a screaming and muscular looking 7 seater that can tow 7400 pounds – who says life has compromises. Obviously, the more expensive SRT can tow more – 8700 pounds.

“With 360 hp, this muscular V-8 helps the Durango tow up to 7,400 pounds. That’s a figure on par with some full-size pickups but in a more manageable, passenger-friendly size.” – Carconnection

2018 Dodge Durango Fuel Efficiency

Durango is the thirstiest midsize SUV – not a surprise considering its racy attitude and huge towing capacity. However, the V6 is just 1 mpg thirstier than the competition – a genuine surprise. Even the 5.7L V8 is not that thirsty. It delivers 14 mpg in city and 22 on highway – comparable to a 3.5 Ecoboost V6 equipped in Explorer.

“Crossovers with a four-cylinder under the hood are more efficient, but the Durango’s V-6 is still competitive with other V-6–powered rivals.” – Car and Driver

Model Dodge Durango SXT Chevrolet Traverse Ford Explorer Honda Pilot
mpg city 18 18 17 18
mpg highway 25 27 24 26
mpg combine 20 21 18 21

Note: In above table, the Explorer may look thirstier than Durango but we compare the base trim for which manufacturers specify the starting MSRP. The base Explorer has outdated standard 3.5 V6 and optioning the 2.3 Ecoboost I4 ($895) is a must. This engine delivers 19 mpg in city and 27 mpg on highway. For more information, read our 2018 Ford Explorer – In-Depth Review.

2018 Dodge Durango Exterior

Dodge has tried to infuse plenty of muscle car characteristics in the Durango. The bulging bonnet, muscularly sculpted curves, and the classic “coke bottle” lines. While the side profile is relatively plain, the rear end is dominated by Dodges distinctive “Race Track” LED tail-lights that span the entire width of the car.

“The Durango’s exterior styling is exactly aggressive enough without going overboard, even in base models.” – Kelley Blue Book

You can further spice up the look by paying more. The blacktop package ($995) gives your Durango SXT Plus that dark mean bat-mobile look while the Anodized Platinum Package ($995) makes your Durango SXT look like a Durango Citadel. The Durango GT can be fitted with a “performance hood” for $995. The R/T gets a “Brass Monkey Appearance” package for $695.

Dimension and Weight

The Durango is a large rig spanning 201 inches in length. It’s tallest among competitors here at 70.9 inches. However, at 75.8 inches, it’s considerably narrower than others. Also, the Dodge has slightly lower ground clearance than the Explorer. Except the Honda Pilot, all the SUVs here weigh over 4500 pounds.

Model Dodge Durango SXT Chevrolet Traverse Ford Explorer Honda Pilot
curb weight(lbs) 4680 4713 4901 4288
Length(in) 201.2 204.3 198.3 194.5
Width(in) 75.8 78.6 78.9 66.3
Height(in) 70.9 70.7 70 69.8
Ground clearance(in) 8.1 7.2 8.3 7.3
Wheel base(in) 119.8 120.9 112.8 111
Track width(in) F/R 63.9/64.1 67.3/67.0 67/67 66.3/66.3

Wheels

The base Durango SXT and SXT Plus get 18-inch aluminum alloys. The Durango GT has larger and darker 20-inch wheels. The Citadel Trims get 20-inch polished wheels in line with their luxury theme. The R/T trim gets multiple 20-inch options.

Model Dodge Durango SXT Chevrolet Traverse Ford Explorer Honda Pilot
Size F/R (in.) 18*18/18*18 17*7/18*7.5 20*8.5/20*8.5 18*18/18*18
Quality Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum
Wheel type Alloy Alloy Alloy Alloy

2018 Dodge Durango Interior

The Dodge Durango, keeping with its sporty demeanor, gets sport steering wheel as standard. The driving position offers commanding view outside and the first and second rows are roomy. However third row is cozy. The material quality is impressive in areas where they matter but hidden areas get some cheap pieces.

While base SXT trims are comparatively bare, the Citadel trims get sumptuous Nappa leather, plenty of amenities and even suede headliner. U-connect infotainment is widely regarded as best in business and this does not disappoint either.

“Every manufacturer uses a combination of materials that range from cheap to high quality, but some designs such as the Durango’s are better executed than others.” – Car and Driver

Seating and Comfort

The Durango can seat 7 people – 5 of them in first and second row will be treated to generous space to stretch out. However, even two in the third row will be better accommodated than some of the rivals. The high seating position gives you a commanding view outside but tree-trunk like pillars do create some blind-spot (they also reinforce the feeling of being inside a fortified “Citadel”).

“Most models offer a choice between a bench or captain’s chairs in the second row; the latter makes accessing the third row easier, and makes it easier to use a booster seat.” – Kelley Blue Book

Model Dodge Durango SXT Chevrolet Traverse Ford Explorer Honda Pilot
Passenger capacity 6 8 7 8
Passenger Volume(ft cube) 133.9 150.8 151.7 151.7
Front (Head/Hip/Shoulder/Leg)

(In.)

 

39.9/57/58.5/40.3 41.3/58.1/62.1/41 41.4/57.3/61.5/42.9 39.5/59.1/62/40.9
Second (Head/Hip/Shoulder/Leg)

(In.)

 

39.8/42.8/50.4/38.6 40/56.9/62.2/38.4 40.6/56.8/61/39.5 39.9/57.3/62/38.4
Third (Head/Hip/Shoulder/Leg)

(In.)

 

37.8/42.8/50.4/31.5 38.2/48.5/57.5/33.5 37.8/40.7/50.8/32 38.9/44.9/57.6/31.9

Comfort and feel-good features can be had from SXT Plus trim onwards with its optional Popular Equipment Group ($1,645) Package having:

  • Heated front seats
  • heated steering wheel
  • Power Lift-gate
  • Auto-Dimming Rear View Mirror

The Durango GT and higher trims add features like Power Sunroof, rear seat entertainment and more.

Cargo Capacity

The Durango has 17.2 cubic feet of luggage capacity with all seats up – amongst the lowest in segment. However, folding the third row liberates 47.7 cubic feet of cargo space – second only to the Chevy Traverse. Additionally, second row can be folded for 84.5 cubic feet of luggage space useful for carrying longer items. Power lift-gate (available from SXT plus onwards) adds convenience.

Model Dodge Durango SXT Chevrolet Traverse Ford Explorer Honda Pilot
Behind 3nd Row(ft.cube) 17.2 23.0 21.0 16.5
With 3nd  row folded (ft.cube) 47.7 58.1 43.9 46.8
With All  Seats folded (ft.cube) 84.5 98 81.7 83.9

“Durango’s 84.5 cubic feet of max space is on par with most rivals. Space behind the third row is wide and deep enough for a large golf bag. The movable cargo cover is a nice feature.” – Edmunds

Infotainment System

The Fiat Chrysler group (to which, the Dodge brand belongs) has among the best infotainment system in automotive business and the Durango is the natural beneficiary. While the base SXT and SXT plus get 7-inch U-connect as standard, the crisp 8.5-inch touchscreen-equipped U-connect infotainment can be had with premium group package ($2,395) in Durango GT. All higher trims get 8.4 U-connect as standard.

“The Uconnect system in Dodge (and Chrysler and Jeep vehicles) is one of the best touch-screen infotainment systems available. The latest version revamps the interface for a cleaner appearance, ups the usability, and adds Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.” – Kelley Blue Book

2018 Dodge Durango Safety Ratings and Reliability

This is a criterion where the 2018 Dodge Durango performs inadequately. While the competitors score 5-star in NHTSA crash test, Durango only scores 4-star. Also, the 2018 Dodge Durango has scored “Marginal” in IIHS small front overlap crash test.

Active safety features and advanced driver assistance systems start to pour in from GT trim onwards. Getting a Durango GT with Technology group ($2,595) package equips you with:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop
  • Advanced Brake Assist
  • Full Speed Forward Collision Warning Plus
  • Lane Departure Warning Plus
  • Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection
  • Rain Sensitive Windshield Wipers

“The Durango’s crash-test results are acceptable, but they’re far from class leading. Optional automated emergency braking adds an extra layer of protection, and its standard backup camera helps with safely reversing the big beast.” – Car and Driver

2018 Dodge Durango NHTSA safety rating:

Overall Rating
Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating 4star
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating Driver 4star
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating Passenger 5star
Overall Side Crash Rating
Side Barrier Rating
Side Barrier Rating Driver
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
Side Pole Rating Driver Front Seat
Combined Side Rating Front Seat
Rollover Rating 4star

2018 Dodge Durango IIHS safety rating:

Small overlap front driver side Marginal
Small overlap front passenger side ———-
Moderate overlap front Good
Side Good
Roof strength Good
Head restraints & seats Good

2018 Dodge Durango Competition Check

Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer is as American as the Durango with a large, brutish design. However, it’s more efficient than the Durango and its Ecoboost V6 is faster too. The Explorer has a far more cushioned ride and its cabin noise is well controlled. Also, the Explorer is more practical with its large cargo capacity. However, Durango can tow more and the Explorer lacks the Charisma of the Durango with its V8.

Chevy Traverse

The 2018 Chevrolet Traverse blends charismatic styling with plenty of passenger space and cargo capacity. The seats are supportive and higher trims cover them in soft materials. This is accompanied by a plush ride and composed highway manners. While Traverse has efficient I4 engine option, the Durango is definitely more entertaining with its V8. Durango can also tow more than the Traverse.

Honda Pilot

The Honda Pilot is one of the most well rounded midsize SUV with well-equipped, spacious seats (even the third row) and high-quality materials. An efficient and powerful engine pulls the pilot briskly along the road. On top of that, the Pilot comes with Honda’s reputation of reliability and has great resale value too. However, the Durango is far more entertaining with its V8 and it can tow more too.

2018 Dodge Durango Final Verdict

The 2018 Dodge Durango is definitely a standout among the mid-size SUVs. It will not look out of place in a parking lot full of Challengers and Mustangs. While others get efficient I4 with V6 as a go-faster alternative, the Durango has an already fast V6 as standard with a true hot-rod worthy V8 as option.

When others are happy squealing tires in their FWD SUVs, you can pull out a drift in Durango with its standard RWD. While others prioritize being a comfortable family hauler, the Durango aims at entertaining that family. However, that novel goal is not without compromises. The Durango is less efficient and less comfortable than rivals.

While lack of cargo capacity with third row up can be overlooked, poor safety ratings cannot be overlooked in a family wagon. So if you want a safe, comfortable and efficient family wagon, the Durango can feel a bit too wild and the competitors like Explorer, Traverse, and Pilot are a better pick. However, if you want a hot-rod 7-seater, there are few (if any) alternatives.

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