Reviews

2006 Dodge Durango Road Test

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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.

Source: Moment Car
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
cars in
this class:
Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition, GMC Yukon, Nissan Armada & Toyota Sequoia

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 car-like SUV.

Specifications

3.7 liter V64.7 liter V85.7 liter Hemi V8
Engine Type3.7 liter SOHC 12-valve V64.7 liter SOHC 16-valve V85.7 liter Overhead valve Hemi V8 with 16 valves
Horsepower210 @ 5,200 RPM235 @ 4,400 RPM345 @ 5,400 RPM
Torque235 ft-lbs. @ 4,000 RPM300 ft-lbs. @ 3,500 RPM375 ft-lbs. @ 4,200 RPM
Fuel
Recommended
Regular UnleadedRegular UnleadedRegular Unleaded
Transmissions4 speed automatic transmission4 speed automatic transmission5-speed automatic transmission
Drive Type (std)
Drive Type (opt.)
Rear-wheel drive
N/A
Rear-wheel drive
All-wheel drive
Rear-wheel drive
All-wheel drive
TiresP245/70R17 all terrain tiresP245/70R17 all terrain tiresP225/60HR18 tires
Overall Length200.8″200.8″200.8″
Wheelbase119.2″119.2″119.2″
Width76″76″76″
Turning Diameter37.5 ft Curb to Curb37.5 ft Curb to Curb37.5 ft Curb to Curb
Curb Weight4,713 lb4,713 lb5,024 lb
Fuel Tank27.0 Gals.27.0 Gals.27.0 Gals.
Miles Per Gallon16 mpg city, 21 mpg Hwy.14 mpg city, 18 mpg Hwy.14 mpg city, 18 mpg Hwy.
Base Sticker Price (SE)$28,550 plus $745 Destination Charge$28,550 plus $745 Destination Charge$28,550 plus $745 Destination Charge

Standard Equipment
(partial list)
SXT:

SLT adds…
(partial list)

Limited adds…
(partial list)

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

For more information on the Magnum, visit dodge.com.

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Author

Tom Strongman

Automotive Expert

Tom Strongman began writing about automobiles for The Kansas City Star 20 years ago. He was the full-time Automotive Editor from 1991 to 2001. Now he is a Contributing Editor who works on contract for the paper. His syndicated column also appears in The St. Louis Suburban Journals and The Columbus Dispatch. He writes a bi-monthly column for AAA's Home and Away Magazine. Strongman's "Behind the Wheel" segment airs weekly on KSHB Channel 41 in Kansas City.

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