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2006 Dodge Durango Road Test

By Tom Strongman
Photos by Charles Ofria

Category: $30,000 - $40,000 Large Rear-drive (or 4WD) SUV
Who should buy this car: Anyone looking for a large, ruggedly  styled, roomy SUV with off-road capability and strong towing capability
Comparable models in this class: Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon, Nissan Armada & Toyota Sequoia

Dodge's bold new Durango has a face you can't miss and size to match.

The totally new vehicle is 7 inches longer, 3 inches wider and 3 inches taller than the previous model. It rides on a 119.2-inch wheelbase, which is longer than an Explorer but shorter than a Suburban. It can seat seven people in three rows of seats and can tow 8,950 pounds when properly equipped.

When Dodge set out to redesign the Durango, stated goals were "to improve ride quality, refine the comfort of the interior, utilize new safety technologies and improve fuel efficiency."

Based on a weeklong drive, I conclude that most of those goals have been met.

Durango is available in two-wheel and four-wheel drive, with three engines: a 210-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6; a 230-horsepower, 4.7-liter V-8; and a 335-horsepower, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8.

Prices start at $26,565 for a two-wheel-drive V-6 and top out at $34,900 for a four-wheel-drive Limited. The SLT starts at $28,805. The test vehicle was a two-wheel-drive Limited with the 5.7-liter V-8, sunroof, rear-seat entertainment system, heated seats and side airbags. Its sticker price was $36,950.

Given the Durango's size, I think most buyers will want a V-8. The Hemi, of course, is the engine that is the most fun. This engine, made popular by Dodge's "That thing got a Hemi?" ad campaign, is a strong engine that loves to flex its muscles. It's smooth and powerful and, surprisingly, has the same fuel economy rating as the smaller 4.7-liter V-8. If power is your thing, or you anticipate towing or hauling seven people, go for the larger engine.

Dodge was successful in making the new Durango a more refined vehicle than its predecessor. The ride is smoother by a considerable margin, and the cabin is not only larger, but crafted with nicer materials and features.

The instrument panel of the Limited has large, white-faced gauges that are easy to read during the day and during the night, when their color changes to a light greenish blue.
The audio system is completely new, with flat buttons and soft knobs that are easy to work even with gloves on.

The test vehicle was loaded with creature features that make SUVs so popular these days. It had a rear-seat DVD player, for example, and a fold-flat, third-row seat that makes it possible to carry up to seven people. Oftentimes, getting into these third-row seats is quite a challenge, but its easy in the Durango. The second-row seats tumble forward to create a large passage way to the back seat. Predictably, legroom for the third seat is pretty tight for adults, but it is tolerable for short distances.

The second-row seat is a 40/20/40 design whose center section can be folded down like an armrest. It even has cup holders.

With the third seat upright, luggage space is minimal. With the second seat moved forward and the third seat folded, the resulting cargo space is greater than that of the Chevy Tahoe, Ford Expedition or Toyota Sequoia, according to Dodge.

The original Durango SUV was larger than a compact but smaller than a full[-]size. The new vehicle again falls into a unique size category, but it is one notch bigger. That will be good news to those who need the space, and not so good news for folks who want a smaller, more carlike SUV.

Do you have any feedback on the Durango?  Any opinions or experiences ofyour own?  We would love to hear from you. 
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3.7 liter V6

4.7 liter V8

5.7 liter Hemi V8

Engine Type

3.7 liter SOHC 12-valve V6

4.7 liter SOHC 16-valve V8

5.7 liter Overhead valve Hemi V8 with 16 valves


210 @ 5,200 RPM

235 @ 4,400 RPM

345 @ 5,400 RPM


235 ft-lbs. @ 4,000  RPM

300 ft-lbs. @ 3,500 RPM

375 ft-lbs. @ 4,200 RPM

Fuel Recommended

Regular Unleaded.


4 speed Automatic Transmission

5-speed automatic transmission

Drive Type (std)
Drive Type (opt.)

Rear-wheel drive

Rear-wheel drive
All-wheel drive

Rear-wheel drive
All-wheel drive


P245/70R17 all terrain tires

P225/60HR18 tires

Overall Length






Turning Diameter

37.5 ft Curb to Curb

Curb Weight

4,713 lb

5,024 lb

Fuel Tank

27.0 Gals.

Miles Per Gallon

16 mpg city, 21 mpg Hwy.

14 mpg city, 18 mpg Hwy.

14 mpg city, 18 mpg Hwy.

Base Sticker Price

$28,550 plus $745 Destination Charge

Standard Equipment
(partial list)

  • 3.7 Liter V6 engine

  • 4-speed automatic transmission

  • Rear-wheel drive

  • 17 inch alloy wheels with all terrain tires

  • Privacy glass

  • Roof rack

  • Ventilated front disc / solid rear disc brakes with ABS

  • 5 person total seating capacity

  • Cloth upholstery

  • Power windows

  • Remote power door locks

  • Power mirrors

  • Cruise control

  • Tilt-adjustable steering wheel

  • Air conditioning

  • AM/FM in-dash single CD player, CD-controller stereo with 4 speakers

SLT adds...
(partial list)

  • Front fog/driving lights

  • 7 person total seating capacity

  • 8-way power driver seat

  • Rear ventilation ducts with fan control

  • One-piece folding third row seat

Limited adds...
(partial list)

  • 4.7 Liter V8 engine

  • 5-speed automatic

  • P265/60R18 all terrain tires

  • Stability control

  • Automatic headlamps

  • Premium leather upholstery

  • Memory driver's seat

  • Heated front seats

  • Split-bench folding third row seats

  • Heated mirrors

  • Audio controls on steering wheel

  • Height adjustable pedals

  • Automatic climate control air conditioning

  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel

  • AM/FM in-dash 6 CD player with CD MP3 Playback stereo with 9 speakers

  • Video monitor

  • DVD player

  • Sirius satellite radio

Major Available Options
(Depending on model.  Some options are only available as part of a package.  See your Dodge dealer for details)

  • 4.7 Liter V8 engine with 5-speed automatic

  • 5.7 Liter Hemi V8 engine with 5-speed automatic

  • 4-wheel drive

  • AM/FM in-dash 6 CD player with CD MP3 Playback stereo

  • 8 Premium Speakers w/Subwoofer

  • Rear seat DVD player with 7" screen

  • GPS navigation system

  • Sirius satellite radio

  • Leather upholstery

  • 18 inch aluminum or chrome wheels

  • Power Sunroof

  • Front side airbags

  •  Side curtain airbags for all 3 rows.

  • Trailer Tow Group

  • Electronic Stability Control

  • Running Boards

  • P265/60R17 All-Terrain Tires

  • Heated Front Seats

  • Remote Start System

  • Power Adjustable Pedals

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