Tom Crosby: Dodge’s popular Durango SUV adds GT trim

Tom Crosby

Dodge dropped its limited edition of the Durango for 2017, replacing it with a new GT (Grand Touring) trim with a monochromatic exterior preserving the SUV’s already good looks.

Our test drive had an eye-catching bright White Knuckle Clear-Coat paint job mimicking a Star Wars Storm Troopers uniform – one of eleven Durango color choices.

We drove the GT using the award-winning Pentastar V6 engine (there is a HEMI V8 option) with rear-wheel drive (all-wheel is available). Trims, in order, are SXT, GT, Citadel and R/T, all with a well-modulated 8-speed transmission.

The V6 provided quick acceleration onto the highway. Handling with the rear-wheel drive felt somewhat ponderous due to the vehicle’s nearly 2.5-ton weight and some lean in turns. The ride was very comfortable, more sedan-like than truck-like.

A Brass Monkey Appearance Package ($595) gave the 20-inch wheels a burnished bronze color and added Gloss Black crosshairs on the quad grille. Three other options totaling $5,585 added cutting-edge driver safety aids; comfort, convenience, entertainment and navigation features; plus UConnect Access for apps and well-functioning voice commands aided by an 8.4-inch graphically clear dashboard touch-screen.

Durango remains spacious with adequate room for adults in the third row and easily dropped second and third rows. A low lift-over provides access to the ample cargo area where a storage tray hides beneath the cargo floor. A spare tire hangs under the vehicle with tools and jack and flashlight in the cargo area. Knick-knack spaces are plentiful – found in doors, beneath the dashboard screen, and in a two-tiered center console with a cell phone hook-up. Trailering is best in class – 6,200 pounds when properly equipped and a new rear-mounted camera allows views of trailered items.

Mileage is competitive, helped by seamless stop/start and cylinder shut downs when not needed. The interior eschews wood trim and mixes leather and black materials with accents of chrome and burnished aluminum. Rear headrests can be lowered automatically and DVD screens are visible for 2nd and 3rd row passengers.

Chrysler/Dodge has a potentially strong safety feature that, when improved, will be appreciated by everyone who exceeds the speed limit (nearly everybody). An audible driver warning can be set for variable miles over the limit but it was not consistent. When perfected, it will be an eagerly sought safety aid. Government crash tests give Durango overall four out of five stars. Visors are extendable.

LIKES: Cargo space, versatility, spacious, ride, quiet, looks, mileage, towing muscle.

DISLIKES: Inaccurate speed limit alerts.

BOTTOM LINE: A worthy competitor in fiercely contested category.

FACT FILE: DODGE DURANGO GT Brass Monkey RWD

Base price w/destination fee $38,590 ($44,770 as tested).

Curb weight 4,838 lbs.

Wheelbase 119.8 inches.

Length 199.8 inches.

Width 75.8 inches.

Engine specs 3.6-liter, V-6, variable valve timing.

Horsepower 295-hp at 6,400 rpm.

Torque 260 lb.-ft. at 4,000 rpm.

Transmission 8-speed automatic.

EPA Rating 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.

Range 4.6-gallon tank, regular.

Performance 0-60 in 7.6 seconds.

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.