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#4

in 2011 Affordable Midsize SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $19,719 - $31,475
Original MSRP: $29,195 - $44,020
MPG: 16 City / 23 Hwy
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2011 Dodge Durango Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2011 Dodge Durango's performance is a pleasant surprise, according to most reviewers. The standard V6 engine is fine for around town drive, but many auto writers recommend the V8 for towing, or just to have gobs of power on hand. When it comes to handling and braking, most reviewers agree that the Durango is comfortable, yet nimble enough to make getting around town easy.

  • "Of course, most rivals also offer a driving experience about as exciting as watching 'builder beige' paint dry. Yawn. Here, as well, is where the Durango forges its own path." -- Left Lane News
  • "We sampled V-6- and V-8-powered Durangos on the roads in and around Napa Valley, California, and as with the new Grand Cherokee, the Teutonic foundations (the architecture will also be put to work under the next Mercedes M-class) pay big dividends in the driving department.” -- Car and Driver
  • "We spent the better part of our 2011 Dodge Durango test drive behind the wheel of a V6-powered Citadel and the experience overall was quite pleasant." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "In terms of straight-up driving, we really prefer the Dodge. As mentioned, the Ford is fairly hard-riding and just not much of an athlete. The Dodge meanwhile has a much more comfortable ride and better reflexes." -- Motor Trend

Acceleration and Power

Dodges are known for their powerful engines, and the 2011 Durango is no exception. If people ask, yeah, the Durango has got a Hemi, but it also has a competent and more economical V6.

The base engine in the 2011 Dodge Durango is a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 290 horsepower. EPA fuel economy numbers for the V6 aren’t available yet, but reviewers reported fuel economy numbers of about 16 miles per gallon in the city and 22 miles per gallon on the highway for the V6.

If you want a lot more power, go for the optional V8 Hemi engine. It makes 360 horsepower, and reviewers say it’s capable of throwing the whole family back in their seats when you step on the gas. But, reviewer-reported fuel economy isn’t great for the V8, with numbers of about 13 miles per gallon in the city and 20 miles per gallon on the highway during their test drives.

Both engines are mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, which reviewers say is adequate, but they wish it was more up-to-date, with more gears. You can get the Durango in rear- or all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive adds about $2,000.

  • "We've only had the opportunity to preview a V6 Durango. So equipped, it has decent power from a stop and during highway passing and merging. The nearly 5,000-pound curb weight blunts acceleration compared to other crossovers. The transmission works smoothly, but a deep stab of the throttle is often required in order to coax a downshift." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The base 290-hp, 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 is quiet and smooth, although it needs to be revved to its 6400-rpm redline to access all 290 hp. Its torque peak of 260 lb-ft is also somewhat high at 4800 rpm, so we often found ourselves deep in the throttle in our attempt to drive with any sense of spirit." -- Car and Driver
  • "Midrange acceleration [with the V6] is adequate for passing and merging and indeed there's little reason to sweat the estimated 9 seconds that Dodge estimates it takes the Durango to reach 60 mph. As expected, the V8 offers brisk all-around performance." -- Edmunds
  • "There's no getting away from the fact that this is still a big, heavy SUV, but the 290-horspower Pentastar V6 performs admirably. Although we're certain you'll want the V8 for towing, the V6 has enough power to move a semi-loaded Durango with some urgency." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Providing good grunt and a NASCAR-ready soundtrack at higher RPMs, the HEMI is every bit the engine we’ve come to love in the Dodge Challenger and Charger. Its biggest demerit might be a sales killer for many: 13 mpg in the city with all-wheel-drive (14 mpg with rear-wheel-drive). Highway driving, at 20 mpg, is a little easier to swallow." -- Left Lane News

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say that the 2011 Dodge Durango is pleasant to drive. They report that the ride is smooth and composed, the steering has a good level of feedback, and that while the Durango doesn’t have sports-car-like handling, it does just fine around town. If you want better performance, opt for the R/T trim, due out later this year, which has a sport-tuned suspension and the Hemi V8 engine.

  • "A major benefit of the Durango's new unit-body chassis (derived from the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and shared with the Jeep Grand Cherokee) is its ability to keep you from noticing this Dodge's nearly 5,000 pounds when you're going around a corner. The new Durango feels controlled in circumstances that would have left it fumbling to regain its composure in the past." -- Edmunds
  • "Thanks to its unibody architecture, nearly 50/50 weight distribution, and more carlike driving position, brisk runs along mountain roads in a Durango are possible and even sort of enjoyable." -- Car and Driver
  • "Despite large overall dimensions and a heavy curb weight, Durango is surprisingly nimble. Steering and brake-pedal feel are quite good. Body lean in fast turns is well controlled." -- Consumer Guide
  • "In the real world, the Durango is very easy to drive, thanks especially to its impressively small turning circle. Even with its tighter, sedan-like handling, the ride is still smooth and compliant. Throw it at a turn and the Durango will lean a bit, but even two-wheel-drive variants hold tight to the road in emergency maneuvers, giving up only gradual understeer when pressed hard." -- Motor Trend
  • "Steering is similarly linear and wonderfully weighted, while the ride is nearly perfect." -- Left Lane News

Towing

Many SUV owners use their cars for hauling people, not cargo. But, if you want an SUV that can tow, the 2011 Dodge Durango has what you’re looking for. It has the best-in-class towing capacity. When equipped with the V8 engine, the Durango can tow up to 7,400 pounds, enough for a boat or small horse trailer. However, a few reviewers point out that the 2011 Ford Explorer, which can only tow up to 5,000 pounds, has more helpful towing features, including trailer sway assist and a backup camera that can focus on the trailer’s hitch, making it easier to attach. When it comes to towing, choosing between the Durango and the Explorer means selecting brawn or tech. 

  • "Maximum towing capacity is 6,200 pounds with the V6 and 7,400 pounds with the V8." -- Consumer Guide
  • “When it comes to towing, the Durango has a clear advantage over the Explorer. With the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, the Durango can tow 6,200 pounds. The V-8 version can haul a pretty impressive 7,400 pounds. The Explorer can manage just 5,000 pounds, a clear disadvantage." -- Motor Trend

Next Steps: 2011 Dodge Durango

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