On the heels of saying that the Kia Telluride is the benchmark for midsize three-row SUVs, why would you ever consider anything else? Well, if you are true hoon you might just be soothed by the smooth growl of a big V8 engine. Not surprisingly, Dodge has you covered with several V8-powered SUVs. They loaned me a brand new Durango R/T for a week and the the siren’s song of that 5.7L V8 did leave an impression. I also found a statue of a bull dressed up like an NYC taxi.
2022 Durango Overview
Dodge offers seven trim levels on the Durango available with V6 or V8 power and most can be had with RWD or AWD. Prices range from around $38,800 for the base SXT up to just over $69,000 for the SRT 392 Durango. The SXT, as well as the GT and GT Plus, are powered by a 3.6L V6 putting out a respectable 295 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. That’s almost identical to the Telluride I just reviewed, although the V6 Durango is about 400-500 pounds heavier. Dodges be chonky. While the SXT is actually really well equipped, the GT adds some luxury features and naturally the GT Plus is like the GT, but more.
Dodge sent us an R/T for the week and it had some options. I’ll let you read through the monroney for our loaner below, there are several four-digit packages and add-ons that definitely up the bottom line MSRP of this tester. Prime among them is the Tow N Go Package ($4,495) that adds upgraded wheels with Pirelli rubber, Brembo brakes, and a host of upgrades to the suspension, exhaust, and towing capabilities. The Technology Group ($2,395) gets you driver aides like brake-assist, lane-departure warning, collision warning and adaptive cruise control. Back in the day the tech group would have include some sort of A/V equipment, but now it’s all about driving assistance, so $1,995 will have to come out of your pocket if you want the rear DVD system.
Dodge ticked the box for leather seating ($995), Premium Interior Group (which doesn’t include leather seats, for $1,495), 2nd row Captains Chairs ($1,275), 2nd row console with storage ($595), 19-speaker Harmon Kardon audio ($1,085), blind-spot/cross-path detection ($495), and Destroyer Gray paint ($395).
All in you’re at just over $67,000 with destination. In my relatively recent shopping experience, the Dodge dealers I engaged with did not hit me with an adjusted dealer markup (ADM). At least they didn’t on the Durango and Charger, which were the two vehicles I was considering before I found a (non-marked-up) Mach-E.
Let’s find out if this is a $67K driving experience.
2022 Durango R/T Inside & Out
The third-generation (WD) Durango has been around for, as the kids say, a minute. You see, that actually means way more than a minute, especially in this case since the current gen came out in 2011. Built alongside the Jeep Grand Cherokee, it shares quite a bit with it’s Jeep cousin. However, Dodge is the king of maximizing the aging platform, and the 3rd generation Durango has continued to evolve over the years adding features and mechanical upgrades.
While I’m not sure the exterior of the R/T trim looks quite special enough to match the noise the Hemi engine makes (more on that in a bit), it’s still a sweet spot in the lineup. The slab sided SUV does stand out in a sea of anonymous crossovers. Add in the hood scoop and vents, big dual exhaust and LED lighting out back, and it’s a good looking thing.
The R/T is great, but anyone know what the heck this Taxi-Bull thing is? I found it just hanging out in a parking garage in Mclean, VA.
While the exterior may not quite feel super-SUV special, the interior is quite good. From the pistol-grip shifter to the red double-stitching on the seats, the Durango R/T has a great mix of “fun-and-playful” meets “don’t screw with me bro”. The seats have a decent bolster and were easily adjustable to find a good driving position.
I like the little rocker switch type buttons under the HVAC controls, they make a nice little satisfactory click when actuated. In fact, I actually like that there are so many buttons. Even though the Durango has one of the best infotainment systems on the market (UConnect), and a nice wide touchscreen, there are still actual buttons to use as well. Don’t take my buttons.
Wireless CarPlay took me a few tries to connect, but it was pretty reliable after that. The cordless charging seemed to work pretty well, my phone still got warm (always does on Qi), but it has a nice indented area to keep it from moving. I am curious if that space is good for all phone sizes though? It’s interesting that the right dial will move things around on the screen (which is a touchscreen) when and what I wanted it to do was click through the SiriusXM stations. Small UI issue, as is the fact that Apple CarPlay obsessively switches itself from XM to itself when I refresh my Twitter account at a light. Almost all systems seem to do that though, so I blame Apple.
I’m a big fan of captains chairs, sure you lose a seat, but it adds some flexibility in getting to the back seat. Well, it does unless there is a immovable center-storage unit, which was the case here. Still, the Durango R/T has ample room in the middle, and even in the back seat.
Behind the third-row there is 17.2 cu. ft. of storage, which falls short of the Telluride’s 21.0 cu. ft. but with the 3rd row stow’d there is loads of room. The Durango did just fine on the combo 6am hockey and school run.
2022 Durango R/T On The Street
You don’t buy a Durango R/T for anything I’ve already written above though. You can get pretty much every feature I mentioned in a Durango powered by a more fuel-efficient V6, and it’ll get you from point A to point whatever. No, you get an R/T for that Hemi V8 engine! Said 5.7L V8 has 360 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torques.
It’s quick, and not surprising it sounds fantastic, particularly in Sport or Track mode. It’s not a quite 392 level of sound (while I haven’t driven the Durango 392 yet, the Wrangler 392 sounds amazing) but through a tunnel it will sing the song of our people. I wasn’t able to find a way to customize the driving experience like I have in some other performance daily drivers. For example, I want the suspension in comfort and the exhaust in “get out of my way”, and perhaps it was there somewhere but I didn’t find it.
Still, as a daily driver then, it’s fantastic. It’s got tons of space, rode well (even in Sport), and makes fun noises. You’ll just have to be cool with that 14 city/ 22 highway / 17 combined MPG rating (which isn’t drastically worse than the 14 / 22 / 17 MPG rating of the V6 Durango). Not like gas is expensive.
The R/T is really a sweet spot in the Durango lineup, and represents one of the few ways you can get V8 power in a three-row SUV without paying a lot more on a premium brand. If you don’t go nuts with options you can get one with RWD around $52,000 and you can even add some front-to-back stripes which looks pretty badass. The other parents in the school run pick-up loop will try not to make eye contact.
The only downside is the aging platform. It’s sort of like middle-aged guy who used to be in shape wearing a tracksuit and hanging out with the youth.
Wait, that could be me. How do you do fellow youths?