Durango with optional Hemi V-8 makes for powerful fun

SHARE Durango with optional Hemi V-8 makes for powerful fun

There really are not many changes for the Durango this year. The 2017 version continues where previous models have left off by delivering exceptional ride comfort and bountiful interior space. Maybe the best thing about the mid-size Durango is something you cannot see — the sweet feeling of power at hand with the optional Hemi V-8 under the hood.

Durango is available in five trims: SXT, SXT Plus, GT, Citadel and R/T. The 2017 Dodge Durango seats five adults in two standard rows or up to seven passengers in three rows.

Since the exterior of the Durango has not really been refreshed since the debut of the current design back in 2011, it does have a little bit of flashback to its curves. I still like its long, lean roof line and Magnum-like slant of the C pillar as well as the belt line crimp in the side panels that adds some muscular attitude.

The standard powertrain is a 3.6-liter V-6 engine (298 horsepower) with an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. Worth noting is the 6,200-pound towing capacity, tops in the class. A 5.7-liter V-8 and all-wheel drive are both optional.

The optional V-8 Hemi will give you around 70 more horsepower, and it delivers the sound and the sensibility of being one of the most powerful SUVs on the road at any time. Towing capacity is a class-leading 7,400 pounds.

Ponying up the cash for the upgrade to Hemi will not be the only time you pay a little more — get ready to know your gas station attendant. Fuel economy is 14 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. The V-8 is only available with the R/T trim, which starts at more than $12,000 over the base model, or with the Citadel trim, where you’ll have to purchase it as an option along with all-wheel drive; it will cost $18,000 over base.

Inside the cabin you will find ample room and accommodating features. Seating layout can be varied with the two- and three-row options as well as swapping out the second-row bench for big, cushy captain’s chairs.

The Durango dash treatment is bold and attractive with bright colors, backlit gauges and soft-touch materials across the long runs of the dash and panels. Durango comes standard with a 5-inch touchscreen infotainment system that controls most interior functions; an 8.4-inch screen is optional.

A great example of the Durango’s design convenience is the second-row doors that open wide with easy fold-down motion. This motion easily facilitates access to the back row, something most of the competition struggles with. You’ll get lots of room with the Durango: 17.2 cubic feet of space behind the third row, 47.7 cubic feet with the last row folded down (or in two-row models) and 84.5 cubic feet with all the seats folded.

Standard features in the 2017 Durango include cloth upholstery, automatic climate control, a USB port, Bluetooth, a six-speaker audio system, a Uconnect infotainment system with voice command recognition, proximity key entry and push-button ignition. Taking the leap to the higher trims will do a lot for refinement and comfort. Some of the notable options include Premium Entertainment ($2,490) and the Technology Group ($2,295).

The base Durango starts at $29,995, with GT trim pushing that up to $37,495; the Citadel trim starts at $41,395, and the R/T throws everything into the mix and ups the price to $42,095. Compared to the class competitors, Durango lands somewhere in the middle for ratings, but in terms of the fun a Hemi can bring and those huge towing numbers, Durango is a leader in fun.

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