So how did
the Durango fare off-road? We took it out to our test area to
have a go at the dirt and rocks. We had recently had quite a bit
of rain so we were careful not to get into more than we thought
the truck could handle. The entrance to the test area has a gully
that must first be traversed. We immediately learned the limits
of the 25.1 degree departure angle, as we dragged the hitch over
the edge of the road. After realigning ourselves, we entered the
trailhead and stuck the truck in 2 Lo. With our 265/70R16 All
Terrains on 16x8" wheels, we headed for the muddy hill ahead.
It didn't take long before we had met our match. With no limited
slip in this truck, we were not going to get far in this Alabama
muck. Having nobody else with us to help out, we felt it wise
to turn back and head for our second test area.
The goal of
this area was simply see if the Durango could climb a long and
steep hill. The Durango comes standard with 3.55 gears with a
3.92 optional ratio. With the 3.55 gears, and the 2.72 low range,
even without a limited slip, our confidence was high that the
Durango was built to handle real trails after looking underneath
the truck and seeing the massive corporate 9.25" rear axle,
which is standard in the V8 4x4 models.
previous trail was completely slathered in mud, this hill was
much drier. My hopes high, I headed for the hill up to what is
affectionately called "The Rock." The Durango did, in
fact, climb the hill, however, once we reached a step near the
top, the independent front end's lack of flex and lack of a locking
rear once again showed us the limits of this truck, so we called
it a day.
It never ceases
to amaze us that the car manufacturers can build 4x4 trucks with
heavy duty components for off-road use and not include the $251
limited slip in the package. When spending $33,000 for a Durango,
the extra couple of bucks a month can make the difference between
a truck that can hit some dirt trails around the ranch or to the
fishing hole and a truck that can really go wherever you want
to go. In addition, in snowy areas of the country, the limited
slip can mean either staying home or heading out for groceries.
If you plan on buying a Durango don't leave this option off your
of the Durango is all Dodge. Even without seeing a logo, you can
tell a Dodge when you're in it. The dash trim and knobs come close
to being nice without ever quite getting there. This is one area
where we wish the Durango wasn't so trucky and wish Dodge would
spend a little more time and attention. However, 6-way power seats
were fully adjustable and the leather was of good quality look
and feel. In addition, the 4 speaker stereo system did a great
job of providing the soundtrack while in the urban jungle (an
available 8 speaker Infiniti system is available).
As for creature
comforts, Durangos come with dual-zone heating and air standard.
Though this is a nice feature, we have yet to drive a vehicle
where both front passengers were ever really happy. The rear passengers
also get their own HVAC controls. But once you get the temperature
right, you have plenty of places to store those very important
beverages. The front passengers get 3 cup holders, two of which
are adjustable, while the third is a fixed-size, gigantic one.
The rear passengers also have their share of holder, which include
two additional spots in the fold-down center arm rest, while the
third row also got their own sets.
this eight-seater apart from much of its competition is the utility
part of Sport Utility Vehicle. While some SUVs try to make themselves
out to be great people and cargo haulers, the Durango truly fits
the bill. The seats fold down in a unique manner that requires
little effort once you figure out how to do it. The back seats
and stadium-style third row seats fold down almost entirely flat,
revealing perhaps the most cavernous cargo area we've seen to
date, providing 88 cubic feet of storage area. In fact, there
is even a rear hideaway storage compartment in the rear to stow
even more of your extra goodies.
worked hard over the last decade or so to establish themselves
as a the most genuine truck brand. When the new-style Rams appeared
on the scene, they caused a whole new trend in the truck market
with their big-rig style crosshair front grills and larger-than-life
features. That full-size truck styling then cascaded through the
line into the Dakotas and the Durangos.
Not only has
Dodge stayed true to themselves by building a genuine SUV in Durango,
but they have created a bold, sporty vehicle with real truck underpinnings.
more information on Dodge trucks, visit www.dodge.com