2022 Dodge Durango Review: Old But Still Relevant
The Durango may be old but this aging family hauler is surprisingly Up-to-Dateby Brady Holt, on
The Dodge Durango is a mid-size SUV that hasn’t changed too much since 2011. It came to the market with genuine capability — a rear-wheel-drive-based platform and an available 360-horsepower HEMI V-8 — at a time when most similarly sized competitors were transforming into crossovers.
The Ford Explorer dropped its V-8 and went front-wheel drive that same year. The Nissan Pathfinder followed a couple of years after that. And though it stayed true to its off-road roots, the Toyota 4Runner also dropped its optional V-8 (and lofty towing capacity) in 2010.
Better still, Dodge hasn’t left the Durango to wither into a sad bargain car. While it still shows its age in some areas, a recently redesigned interior nicely complements its well-balanced ride and handling, relatively spacious interior, and choice of three powerful engines — reaching as high as 475 horsepower.
If you’ve shopped for an SUV lately, you’ve either experienced sticker shock or become resigned to extra-high prices. That’s especially true if you want a big SUV with three rows of seats and a high towing capacity.
A decade ago, you could get a base Chevy Tahoe or Ford Expedition for under $40,000; now, you’re looking at 50 grand and up. But one three-row SUV still provides a big V-8 and lots of luxury features for under $50,000: the 2022 Dodge Durango. We spent a week in the Durango to learn more about how it stacks up 11 years after its debut. Here’s what we found.
Performance and Capability
The base Durango engine is a 3.6-liter V-6 that produces 293 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It’s a familiar Dodge engine, and it stays competitive with other mid-size crossovers and SUVs. But the Durango stands apart the most when you’re looking at one of its V8s.
Our test vehicle had the smaller of the two: a 5.7-liter with 360 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. In addition to the higher towing capacity, this engine rumbles with authority whether you’re idling or accelerating, and then settles back calmly at cruise.
We’ve also previously tested the SRT model, where its 6.4-liter V-8 produces 475 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. It’s a surprisingly easy beast to drive gently — or to drive wildly. The insane 710-horsepower Durango Hellcat no longer meets federal emissions standards.
So you probably missed your chance to own that high-speed SUV, but the SRT should tickle most itches. The Durango V-6 should hit 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds, the 5.7-liter should need about a second less, and the 6.4-liter SRT rockets to 60 in less than five seconds. (The Hellcat needed less than 4 seconds.)
Despite its age and all-American pedigree, you might expect the Durango to be a clumsy old brute that goes faster than it should. Actually, the SRT’s handling is remarkably poised for a three-row vehicle, even before you consider its age or relatively modest price point. Our latest R/T test vehicle has respectable composure as well, handling with more precision than most mid-size crossovers and any full-size SUV.
The R/T and SRT have firmer suspensions and firmer steering; if you’d like a smoother, lower-effort driving experience, you can skip these models. They’re nothing disastrous, but you’ll be less isolated from bumps and will need more muscle when you maneuver carefully into a tight parking space.
But when you’re looking to pull some cargo behind you, the Durango comes into its own. Even the standard V-6 engine lets you tow 6,200 pounds, compared with 5,000 pounds for the typical mid-size crossover. But the Dodge’s two available V8s, which we’ll discuss shortly, each let you tow up to 8,700 pounds when properly equipped.
The smaller 5.7-liter V8 stops at a still-impressive 7,400 pounds in some configurations. The bigger Expedition and the even more gargantuan Jeep Wagoneer are the only SUVs you can buy that tow more.
|Displacement||5.7 L V-8|
|Transmission||8-speed shiftable automatic|
|Top Speed||120 MPH|
|Drive||Rear wheel drive|
|Gas Mileage||14 / 22 / 17 MPG|
|Towing Capacity||7,400 lbs|
The V-6 Durango has stayed competitive with mid-size crossovers’ EPA ratings. It gets 19 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 21 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive and about 1 mpg less with all-wheel drive. The V8s are significantly thirstier: The 5.7-liter scores 14 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined with either rear- or all-wheel drive.
The 6.4-liter gets a cringe-inducing 13 mpg city, 19 mpg highway, and 15 mpg combined. What’s more, while the V-6 runs on regular-grade fuel, the 5.7-liter wants mid-grade and the 6.4-liter guzzles premium. Even many full-size SUVs beat the V8 Durangos’ EPA estimates.
The Durango had a choice of grilles: a chromed-up crosshair, which used to be the Dodge brand’s staple, and a blacked-out grille on performance models. Starting last year, the Durango acknowledged its performance focus and switched exclusively to the latter grille design.
Especially paired with the hood scoops on most V8-equipped Durangos, it gives this big SUV an air of menace. Around the back, a Charger-style LED lightbar has dressed up the Durango since back in 2014.
Other aspects of the Durango exterior are more forgettable. It’s long and narrow, more school bus than a performance car. And the body isn’t dressed up much along the sides.
To some eyes, that’s a welcome sign of restraint, though others would appreciate more character. Still, overall, the front end makes a powerful enough impression to avoid mistaking the Durango for a generic crossover.
|Ground Clearance||8.1 in|
|Curb Weight||5,176 lbs|
Interior Quality and Technology
Inside, Dodge fully redesigned the Durango’s dashboard for the 2021 model year. The previous Durango’s interior was user-friendly and well-finished, and it had a pretty good infotainment system, but with a more generic curved design. Now, the Durango’s dashboard betrays no sign of its age.
The new design puts the infotainment screen on an upper tier of the dashboard, connecting it with the gauge cluster rather than a collection of physical buttons and knobs below. And in a sporty touch, the Dodge Challenger sports coupe also shares the same T-shaped gear selector with the Durango.
What’s more, while last year’s old 8.4-inch system remains standard, Stellantis’ new 10.1-inch system is now widely available (and it’s included on our test vehicle). We especially liked the ability to customize the screen with different layouts, making great use of the generous space.
And the system supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. We also appreciate that the new interior layout holds onto simple buttons and knobs, and materials remain richer than some people would expect from Dodge.
One issue with the big new screen: Dodge didn’t upgrade its backup camera to fit the new screen’s higher resolution, so you get unexpected blurriness in reverse. And the Durango’s foot-operated parking brake is a relic of a decade ago.
Passenger Cargo and Acommodations
We’ve pitched the Durango as an alternative to a full-size SUV. And to some extent, its interior volume allows that. It has three rows of seats, and adults can even squeeze into the third row without too much misery. But the front seats and second-row lack the extra spread-out-and-relax feel of a truly enormous Expedition or Tahoe. It’s comfortable, yes, but not all-out decadence.
What’s more, a two-passenger third-row caps total seating capacity at seven passengers with a second-row bench seat and just six passengers with our test vehicle’s captain’s chairs. And if you’re expecting a truly towering forward view, the Durango might be more mid-size modest — while a small windshield also crimps forward visibility.
For cargo, the Durango compares well with light-duty mid-size crossovers. You get 17.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third-row seat, 43.3 cubic feet behind the second row, and 85.1 cubic feet with both rows of rear seats folded down.
(They fold easily, though they don’t create a perfectly flush floor when folded.) That’s about the same as a Toyota Highlander or Nissan Pathfinder crossover and not far behind a Nissan Armada full-size SUV, but it’s significantly less space than you’d get in a Chevrolet Tahoe or Ford Expedition.
|Headroom (front)||39.9 in|
|Headroom (rear)||39.8 in|
|Legroom (front)||40.3 in|
|Legroom (rear)||38.6 in|
|Shoulder room (front)||58.8 in|
|Shoulder room (rear)||57.7 in|
|Cargo Room||17.2 cu-ft|
2022 Dodge Durango Pricing And Availibility
The 2022 Dodge Durango starts at $37,760 for the base SXT model (plus a $1,595 destination charge). That’s a few thousand dollars higher than most three-row crossovers, which also have advanced safety features as standard. The next-up GT starts at $40,755 with a few more features, dressier styling, and a longer list of options. And the luxuriously equipped Citadel starts at $51,960.
The 5.7-liter V-8 appears on the R/T like our test vehicle at $50,560; standard features at this price include leather upholstery, heated front, and second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, the 10.1-inch infotainment screen with GPS navigation, and a wireless smartphone charger. It’s easy to swell this price tag if you’re not careful with options (our R/T test vehicle was a whopping $67,142), but a V-8 and leather will cost you much more than $50,000 on other SUVs.
You can also get the 5.7-liter on the Citadel starting at $55,190, so you can get the biggest engine without the firmer suspension. The similarly equipped SRT 392 model brings the 6.4-liter V-8 for $69,355; that’s no bargain for a mid-size Dodge, but this is a magnificently engineered SUV that combines power, poise, and three usefully roomy rows of seats.
Another Durango struggle is with safety. It earned a low Marginal score — the second-lowest of four ratings — in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) small-overlap offset frontal crash test. That’s a tough test that the organization introduced only after the Durango hit the market, but nearly all cars sold today to manage the top score of Good.
The Durango also earned a mediocre rating of four out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). And while you can get the Durango with modern driver aids like automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control, the only advanced safety feature to come standard is a blind-spot monitor. The others are extra-cost options until you get up to pricey top-of-the-line trim levels.
This shift toward crossovers left the Durango with few direct competitors. It doesn’t have the living-room-on-wheels feel of a Tahoe or Expedition, nor does it have the extra-smooth on-road polish of a Honda Pilot or Hyundai Palisade. But it’s alone a niche that we think has enormous potential for buyers who notice it: A bargain-priced towing machine.
The Durango has its warts. Crash safety and fuel economy could be better, more safety features could be standard, and the parking brake could operate at the push of a button. But considering that the Durango is a dozen years old, it’s remarkably competitive.
Considering that it can tow like a full-size SUV without a full-sizer’s extra cost and bulk, it still has great appeal. Even if you don’t need to tow, you can appreciate its brash styling, luxuriously finished interior, three-row seating, steady handling, and authoritative V8 power.
If you’re looking for more competence than character, there are many excellent mild-mannered crossovers to choose from. But when you want or need something different, the Durango still has what it takes to be a compelling option.