It’s a new year for Dodge and the American automaker is determined to start the year off on the right foot. At the 2011 Chicago Auto Show, Dodge will be unveiling a new and affordable performance package for the 2011 Durango, one that will henceforth be called the Dodge Durango Heat.
Though it doesn’t come with the same HEMI powertrain of the performance-oriented Durango R/T, the Durango Heat does come with some attractive features of its own. First is an aggressive styling that underlies its inner beast. Then there’s the new Pentastar V6 engine, which, despite its less powerful engine compared to its R/T alter ego, promises to make up for it in terms of fuel efficiency.
According to Ralph Giles, Dodge’s president and CEO, the Durango Heat "is about handling performance and a street presence that puts the sport in sport-utility."
Wiser words have never been spoken.
Head over after the jump to find out more about the Dodge Durango Heat.
Exterior and Interior
For the most part, the Dodge Durango Heat model will be aesthetically similar to its R/T counterpart with only a few upgrades. Among the changes done on the body kit include a monochromatic front fascia with a lower air dam and fog lamps, a color-matched grille, dark headlamp bezels, a lowered ride height (20mm), an integrated dual chrome exhaust system, and a set of 20” wheels that goes along with all-season performance tires.
Over at the interior, the Durango Heat maintains a good share of cabin space, enough for five passengers and 50 cubic feet of storage space that includes 5.9 cubic feet of under-floor storage. In addition, the Durango Heat will also carry the same Uconnect Voice Command and 506-watt Alpine audio system with 10 speakers as that of the R/T model.
Unfortunately, the Durango Heat won’t be coming with that mastadon Hemi V8 engine, but instead will ‘only’ have a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine with an output of 295 horsepower and 260 lb/ft of torque and a top speed of 130 mph. While some people will be disheartened about the HEMI’s absence under the Durango Heat’s hood, the underlying benefit of the V6 engine will its fuel economy. According to Dodge, the Heat boasts of EPA ratings of 16 mpg for city driving and 23 mpg for highway driving for the rear-wheel drive model and 16 mpg (city) and 22 mpg (highway) for the all-wheel-drive version.
2011 Dodge Durango
Anybody interested in scooping up a 2011 Durango Heat will have to shell out either $30,295 for the rear-wheel-drive or $32,295 for the all-wheel drive.
Giants attract giants, so they say. In the case of the Dodge Durango Heat, it’s going to have its hands full against a competing SUV like the 2011 Ford Explorer.
In terms of performance, the closest in numbers to the Durango is the V6-powered Ford Explorer with 290 horsepower and 255 lb/ft of torque. While that number is remarkably close to the figures of the Durango Heat, the latter has a pretty sizable advantage in terms of towing capacity. While the Explorer can haul over 5,000 lbs - a respectable figure in SUV parlance - the Durango Heat out-pulls the Explorer by a fairly wide margin with its best-in-class towing capacity of 6,200 lbs.
Fuel efficient by its standards
Best-in-class towing capacity
Engine could be better, or more powerful
Lack of discernible exterior upgrades
Competition is stiff in the market