Dodge Durango test Drive

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As I mentioned before, I had a chance to drive a Durango for a few days. So I thought I would report on what I think about it. (if anyone cares…)

Click on the picture to experience the Dodge Durango.

My 1st impression was, well, the usual when I 1st get behind the wheel of a big SUV. Too big, too high, weird steering etc…
I’m just used to cars.
But after a few hours, things changed.

The steering is pretty slow, and you always have correct it after a turn, it doesn’t go back to a straight line by itself. But I got quite used to it. At least, even being super light, it doesn’t seem to have that fake “Nintendo” feeling that a lot of new cars now have. And the turning radius was much better than expected.

The suspension seems pretty comfortable, although you do feel everything. I think the big tires might actually do most of the “bump absorbing” work. And it can become a handfull when the road gets worse. But that too, I got well used to. And it actually rides OK.

The Hemi engine has more power than I need, but it sounds more sporty than luxurious when you push it. Seems very out of place in a SUV. After all, it doesn’t come close to drive like a sorts car, no matter what engine you squeeze in there.

But he interior is pretty horrible. And that is really hard to get used to.

My car didn’t have much options, besides the V8. So no leather, sunroof etc…
The plastics inside are about the worse quality available today. The seats are very hard. And the headrest is way to far back.
But I must admit, I don’t really mind a firm seat.

The fake wood on the dash doesn’t even try to look real. It almost doesn’t even have a pattern in it. It looks like a flat piece of orange plastic.
And there is a really bad glare in the winshield. The vents, and sometimes the whole dash, are reflected in the glass, right in front of you. A bad distraction and a poor design. Unfortunatelly, many Chrysler cars have that annoying design defect.

Although you ride very high, (I was higher than any other SUVs I saw) it doesn’t feel tippy. And it is very easy to drive, turn and park. (once you get used to the size) . But it is also a pain to get in and out, without the running boards.
It’s just too high.
And there is a pretty bad blind spot when you turn your head to the left. The B pillar is just way too thick and prevents you from seeing any cars coming before you change lanes.

The worse came whan it was time to put gas in it…

In a mix of about 60% city, 40% freeway, with a very light foot, the best I could average was 12mpg!
That’s right. 12!
The BS EPA rates it at 14mpg in the city only. (Yeah right!)

Sure it can tow a big trailer, sure it has a big engine. But do you really need that to cary 7 people?

If you do need to tow, it is a pretty nice truck. Except for the interior. But if you don’t, there is no reason to be spending that much cash on gas.
In 2006, is completly irresponsible.

All in all, it is actually pretty nice for what it is: a big pick up truck based brick. And I think the designers gave it a pretty friendly look. Despite the huge grille. If you “need” a big, pick up truck based SUV, go for it. It is much than the new Tahoe.
But most people don’t need that kind of trucks.

It seems that the new Chrysler Aspen has pretty much fixed the interior issues I had. And if they made the ride a little softer,it might actually be a pretty good lurury truck. Although I sat in the new Tahoe, and that onterior is hard to beat in a big SUV. With much better seats and maybe a slightly better mileage.

The price on my Durango was about $32 000. But you can actually pay around $27 000 for it.
Not bad compared to other big SUVs.
But not that great compared to anything else than car carry 7.

Conversation 10 comments

  1. Vince, thanks for the great review. I never drive large SUVs nor do my friends so I rarely have the chance to experience one. The 12 MPG was a real eye opener. My coworker always complained that her Tahoe got 9 mpg in her commute to work but i was always skeptical. Now it sounds more plausible. And I thought my 15 year old Volvo’s 23mpg average was bad.

  2. I think car usually get pretty bad mileage in city driving.
    Most just get around 20mpg. And that’s not that good.
    I got 12 with the Durango and I never pushed it. Most people drive “harder’ than me. I can’t imagine what they get…

  3. My American friends, you really need to start lobbying your government about current vehicles and their fuel economy.

    The remarks in this blog are quite scary. 9mpg from a large SUV?? Wow. Japanese and European vehicles (large ones included), in fact even American vehicles produced for Europe (which is even more frustrating) are offering 30mpg and better these days (50mpg+ if diesel).

    This gas guzzling culture is no good for anyone. It makes the US economy dependent on politically unstable countries, and butchers the world for future generations.

    Vince – I know you’re with me on this.

  4. And just to add…….. the really unfair thing is the lack of choice in the US market.

    A lot of bloggers here have often voiced their frustration about how many companies (such as Peugeot and Alfa) don’t offer these smaller-engines vehicles in the US because they incorrectly *think* there’s no market there.

    I personally think they’re wrong…….

  5. I think there is a market for this kind of cars. The Mini proved it.
    But it might be quite small. Maybe too small for these companies to invest the huge amount necessary to enter a new market…
    (and both Peugeot and Alfa left the market, years ago, with terrible images).

    I agree about the mileage.
    It is sick, and a very bad thing for the country.
    People have to start understanding that.

    A 10 mpg SUV is not good for America. It is great for Soudi Arabia.

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