The 2017 Dodge Durango is a five- or seven-seat SUV with a unibody frame, which by some definitions makes it a crossover, but it’s not. For one thing, it can tow up to 7400 pounds. But that whole crossover thing blurs. The Durango is much like its cousin the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and shares character with the Mercedes M- and GL-Class, none of which are what we’d call crossovers.
The refined but aging Durango’s direct competitors include full-size SUVs from Chevrolet, GMC, Ford and Lincoln, among others.
To say the Durango isn’t a crossover isn’t to suggest that it doesn’t have exceptionally nice road manners and contemporary styling, to complement its ruggedness. Too bad it doesn’t have good fuel mileage and crash-test ratings as well.
Base engine is Chrysler’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 making 290 or 295 horsepower with 260 pound-feet of torque, with an available 5.7-liter Hemi V8 making 360 hp and 390 lb-ft. Both engines use an 8-speed automatic transmission. The V6 can tow 6200 pounds; the V8 is loud.
All-wheel drive is available. The V8 gets a rugged two-speed transfer case, while the V6 uses a simpler single range electronic version.
For 2017, there are a few model changes. There’s a new Durango GT model that takes the place of the former Limited; the rearview camera adds the eminently helpful trailer view; the base SXT gets the option for third-row seating; and all models except the SXT get an 8.4-inch screen for the UConnect system with Bluetooth streaming audio that integrates audio, climate, phone, and vehicle functions.
The V6 Durango gets an EPA-estimated 19/26 miles per gallon City/Highway, or 21 mpg Combined with rear-wheel drive, or 18/25/21 mpg with all-wheel drive. The V8 is rated 14/22/17 mpg with all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive. All come with the stop/start system that shuts off the engine at a stoplight.
The crash-test ratings are as middling as the fuel mileage, with four stars overall from NHTSA: three in rollover four all-wheel-drive models (four for rear-wheel-drive), four in frontal crash, and five in side crash. The IIHS gives it good scores in most of the tests, except for Marginal in the fearsome small-overlap.