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Eric's Autos: 2022 Dodge Durango

Eric Peters on

The last of the V8 Interceptors -- from the "Mad Max" movies -- was a car. The real thing may be something like the Dodge Durango SUV -- especially the SRT 392 variant, which is equipped with the biggest V8 you can still get in just about anything.

Plus, every Durango variant is now equipped with something else, too.

What It Is

The Durango is a midsize, performance-themed SUV that's available with either of two big V8s and now comes standard with a third row and room for seven.

Prices start at $36,995 for the base SXT trim, which is rear-wheel-drive and comes standard with a 3.6-liter V6 -- and the third row, which was formerly optional. A full-time all-wheel-drive system can be added a la carte. This raises the sticker price to $38,995.

R/T trims come standard with a 5.7-liter V8 and 360 horsepower, plus a sport-tuned suspension package and 20-inch wheels/tires. The rear-drive version lists for $49,795. A heavier-duty, truck-type 4WD system (with low-range gearing) is optional. If selected, the MSRP increases to $51,795.

For an even bigger V8 -- and even more horsepower -- Dodge offers the SRT 392 iteration of the Durango. It comes with a 6.4-liter, 475 horsepower V8, plus additional high-performance upgrades including a Brembo brake package, limited slip differential and a more aggressively tuned adaptive suspension. A high-performance AWD system is standard.

This top-of-the-line Durango carries an MSRP of $68,195.

What's New

The biggest change for the new model year is that the previously available third row is now part of the standard equipment suite in all trims.

What's Good

The V8s ... plural.

The rows ... standard.

The attitude ... unique.

What's No So Good

The V8s are expensive, though this isn't Dodge's fault (more follows).

Optional DVD entertainment system all but eliminates center console storage space.

The Durango as it is probably won't be the same for long. The current model dates back to 2010, when V8 Interceptors weren't yet on the endangered species list. They are now.

Under The Hood

The standard engine in the base SXT, next-up GT and GT-Plus versions of the Durango is Dodge's familiar 3.6-liter V6, making 293 horsepower and 260 foot-pounds of torque.

 

This engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic that sends the power to either the rear wheels or all four, via a full-time all-wheel-drive system.

You can pull up to 6,200 pounds with the V6.

With the optional 5.7-liter V8 (360 horsepower and 390 foot-pounds of torque), a Durango can pull 8,700 pounds. You can also get this version of the Durango -- the R/T -- with either rear-drive or a 4WD system that has low-range gearing and so has more leverage and traction.

For more speed, check out the SRT 392 version of the Durango. It comes with a 6.4-liter version of the Hemi V8 that makes 475 horsepower and 470 foot-pounds of torque, which makes it possible for the Durango to get to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds.

On The Road

Push the start button and hear the Durango's Hemi exhale. Feel the rumble. It conjures emotion in you -- the same feeling Harley people know all about and wouldn't trade in for anything that's not a big V-twin, no matter how much power it makes or how many MPGs it delivers.

The Durango's big V8 just "aw shucks" its way through the crowd, hardly exerting itself. When just cruising along, you will hear and feel that comforting low-down rumble that nothing but a V8 can deliver. The accelerator pedal is your equivalent of a conductor's baton. A bit more pitch now. Perhaps a crescendo. as the Durango bellows by a slowpoke. Then back to that contended burble, as you dial it back and level off.

The 6.4 V8 amps up this experience considerably.

At The Curb

The Durango is a bold-looking rig, particularly the R/T and SRT iterations and especially if ordered in any of the several hard-hitting color schemes available, such as the Destroyer Gray. That plus the scalloped and scooped hood leave no one guessing about this thing's intentions.

The newly standard third row is a nice perk, especially the not having to pay extra for it. It also gives the Durango something of a functional edge over other midsize SUVs that don't offer it and three-row crossovers that aren't SUVs and so don't offer 4WD (or big V8s).

In addition to the extra seats, you get a great deal of standard room -- 17.2 cubic feet behind the third row, which is more than you'd get in any current full-size car -- and 85.1 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded, which is almost enough to house a car. It is enough, however, to handle an impressive load of stuff, something at least as important as having all those seats.

The Rest

The Durango is available with a twin-screen/DVD-based rear seat entertainment system. Be advised that if you select this option, your Durango will come standard with very little front seat/center console storage space, almost all of which is taken up by the DVD player housed within. However, there is a big center storage console cubby in between the second-row chairs -- if you choose the available captain's chairs. And even if not, there is no shortage of space in other places to put things you don't want to carry around in your pockets.

The Bottom Line

Vehicles like the Durango are a vanishing breed. If you'd rather drive one than regret not ever having done so, this might be the year to do it.

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Eric's latest book, "Doomed: Good Cars Gone Wrong!" will be available soon. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Copyright 2022 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
 

 

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