A Closer Look: 2011 Dodge Durango seems to be a viable competitor

2011 Dodge Durango

The Chrysler Auto Group has had a very rough history in the last 30 years. In a sense, they were our version of British Leyland. Poor management, clashing unions, and cheaply made cars…it was no wonder they were destined for death back in 2009.

But with famous hits like the Chrysler 300, the Dodge Charger and Challenger, things started to look up. And while yours… maybe, all of our tax dollars that went into restructuring the famous Auburn Hills automaker, have finally paid off.

Even though the major focus of automobiles in the US of Americaland has shifted from gas sucking, frivolous SUVs to compact and midsized hybrid and electric powertrains, Dodge is still maintaining the Durango model.

Click here for more news on the Dodge Durango.

The last generation Durango was in fact terrible to drive. While a body-on-frame SUV wasn’t really too uncommon, Dodge lagged significantly behind the body-on-frame/fully independent suspension combo competition offered by Ford; which was its direct competitor.

But things might be different for the next generation Durango. A symbol of this upward trend could be found in the new Jeep Grand Cherokee. Always originally owned and operated under Chrysler AG, the new Jeep Grand Cherokee is a product of the corporate restricting that CAG underwent. Offering a unibody, fully independent suspension, and brilliant chassis and suspension tuning, the new JGC is in a league of its own in its class, and the Dodge Durango seems to potentially offer the same.

Hit the jump to read more.

2011 Dodge Durango:

CEO and President of Dodge Ralph Gilles revealed the all-new 2011 Dodge Durango just recently in the Los Angeles International Auto Show.

“Dodge Durango appeals to customers who need the versatility of a crossover and capability of an SUV, but want the refinement and characteristics of a premium performance vehicle,” said Ralph Gilles, President and CEO, Dodge Brand and Senior Vice President, Design — Chrysler Group LLC. “Durango owners love to drive and relish the feelings it evokes, but also want a vehicle that stands out from the crowd and expresses their individuality.”

While aesthetically the new Durango has gained a sleeker profile, it strikes as rather handsome, but yet somehow looks more like a station wagon on stilts.

Just like the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, the new Durango will be based off of a platform shared with the Mercedes W164 M-Class. This allows both SUVs to have the unibody structure—making the Durango specifically 25% stiffer than the previous model—but the Durango boasts 50/50 weight distribution for better on-road performance. The chassis alone allows for the Durango, just like the JGC, to offer the versatility of a crossover while combining the SUV capabilities with car-like performance.

2011 Dodge Durango in Action:

The interior has been reworked, supposedly ridding the new Durango of the shoddy build quality that haunted Chrysler cars of the past and allowing for almost 30 different eating configurations for practicality.

The engines offered are the new 3.6L Pentastar V6, pushing out 290-hp and 260 lb-ft of torque and the tradition 5.7L HEMI V8, which churns out 360-hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. The all-new Pentastar V6 allows the Durango to achieve an EPA estimated 16/23 miles per gallon city/highway for RWD models, 16/22 for AWD models and a towing capacity of about 6,200 lbs whereas the HEMI’s estimations are at 14/20 for RWD and 13/20 for AWD with a towing capacity of 7,400 lbs.

It all adds up to give the new Durango—on paper to say the least—a strong shot at the benchmarked competition. But will those specifications finally make the Durango a viable competitor? Stay tuned for our full review of the car

2011 Dodge Durango (Rear-wheel-drive/All-wheel-drive) MSRPs:

  • 2011 Dodge Durango Express: $29,195 / $31,195
  • 2011 Dodge Durango Crew: $33,195 / $35,195
  • 2011 Dodge Durango Crew with CrewLux package: $38,195 / $40,195
  • 2011 Dodge Durango Citadel: $41,795 / $43,795

2011 Dodge Durango:

– By: Chris Chin