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Big V8 power option ups midsize Dodge Durango’s fun factor

2017 Dodge Durango R/T Blacktop

The 2017 Dodge Durango R/T is a great way to start off any conversation about mid-size SUVs – not to mention the ‘big-smile’ power available on this seven-passenger vehicle.

In terms of power, driving dynamics and overall capability, the R/T is nothing short of one of the most compelling choices out there for the family who feels they have everything. Truth is, get the R/T and THEN you have it all.

FIVE TRIMS AVAILABLE

At its core, the 2017 Durango delivers great ride comfort and bountiful interior space. Perhaps the best thing going for Durango still comes down to something you cannot see – the optional V8 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. The third-row configuration puts it in a very distinct category of midsize SUVs.

I like Durnago’s exterior style. The long, lean roofline and Magnum-like slant of the C-pillar, coupled with the high beltline and chiseled side panels, adds athletic attitude to an exterior that is the least of the positives checked on the Durango’s list.

POWERFUL ENGINE – BIG FUN

The aforementioned V8, only available with the R/T trim, starts at more than $12,000 over the base model. 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.

The standard powertrain is a 3.6-liter V6 engine (298 horsepower) with an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. Worth noting is the 6,200-lb towing capacity, which is tops in the class. A 5.7-liter V8 and all-wheel drive are both optional.

The optional V8 will deliver 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 still a class-leading 7,400 pounds.

While fuel mileage may be of some concern at 14 mpg city and 22 highway, the V8 generously gives back with all the excitement and power you would hope when you opted for the upgrade.

2017 Dodge Durango R/T with Radar Red Nappa leather seats

ROOMY CABIN DESIGN

Inside the cabin, you will find ample room and accommodating features set amid a design steeped in convenience. 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 touch-screen 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 2-row models), and 84.5 cubic feet with all the seats folded.

STANDARD FEATURES ABOUND

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), which adds the Beats audio system and rear-seat DVD/Blu-ray system, and the Technology Group ($2,295) that contains adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.

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. Durango is a fun SUV to drive, no matter where you go with it. If you can afford the upscale V8 – do it, you won’t regret it.