2018 Dodge Durango R/T RWD

Domestic, not domesticated
March 2, 2018 Updated: March 3, 2018

Dodge products for over a hundred years have stood the test for quality and innovation. Vehicles have been built with a passion for discovery and a goal of enriching the bloodline. The engine, body design, interior comfort, and technological level have propelled Durango to the lead of that quest.

Dodge makes the Durango in five trim levels. The SXT is the entry level, while the SRT is at the top of the line. The performance-oriented R/T, along with the Citadel, sits right below the fire-breathing SRT and above the GT. It’s also accordingly priced at $43,695 with the RWD drivetrain and $46,295 with the AWD drivetrain, before any optional equipment.

Across the five trims you see three different powertrains: a 3.6 L Pentastar V6 with engine start/stop and variable valve Timing (VVT) coupled to an 850RE eight-speed automatic transmission, a 5.7L HEMI V8 with multi-displacement system (MDS) and VVT matched to an 8HP70 eight-speed automatic, and a 6.4 L HEMI MDS VVT V8 coupled to the same 8HP70 eight-speed automatic.

My test R/T subscribed to the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 with 8HP70 eight-speed automatic.

The coloring adds much visual excitement to the vehicle. My Durango had redline exterior paint (out of seven choices) on the outside, and was black (out of two choices) in the interior with luxury leather trim and bucket seats. There is a staggering array of 10 seat choices across the model line.

Remote start gets you going quickly and effortlessly. Storage is adequate, with a good compartment for bottles and files in the door, a small pocket in the front of the cup holders, and a smaller pocket under the armrest. A redesign for more storage would still be nice. I also wondered if the media hub, which houses a 12-volt auxiliary power outlet and a USB charging port, would have been better put elsewhere.

Frigid weather these last two weeks in Texas made the heated front and rear seats and the perforated leather-wrapped heated steering wheel quite welcome. When the weather gets warmer, the front seats, which are perforated as well, will help to maintain comfort for the front occupants.

Epoch Times Photo
The interior of the Durango R/T. (Courtesy of Dodge)

Uconnect 4C NAV with an 8.4-inch touchscreen packs technologies like Beats Premium Audio System, Apple CarPlay support, and Google Android Auto support.

Dodge has engineered the Durango into a seven-seater SUV, but with the HEMI V8 it is more like a seven-seat Charger capable of towing just about anything movable.

The best seating feature is the rear headrests that easily fold down when the seats are not occupied, giving the driver clear visibility through the rear window.

My Redline beauty sat on 20-inch-by-8-inch low-gloss granite crystal wheels wrapped in all-season tires.

And the Durango is built like a thoroughbred. The performance front facade and hood complement the trio of projector headlights, LED daytime running lights, and projector fog lamps, plus the sharp-looking grille with accents makes the Durango attractive on the approach.

Dual rear exhaust with bright tips greet you as you make use of the power liftgate, which can be operated from key fobs, the overhead console, as well as rear cargo-area controls.

The Durango offers numerous standard features that make driving easier and safer, such as the ParkSense front/rear park assist system, sport suspension, and rear load-level suspension. In addition, the selectable steering mode helps to stabilize your movement while keeping the Durango under your control. Another notable safety feature is trailer sway control when towing.

There are two optional features that might be of interest. The Technology Group Package ($2,495) adds enhanced safety features like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-path detection, full-speed forward collision warning plus, and lane-departure warning. A power sunroof ($1,195) would sit perfectly well on top of the Durango, distributing comfort while directing a warm skyward look for esthetic value.

The Durango is an absolute joy to drive. Passenger discomfort will never be detected, and cargo space is way more than adequate. The cabin is stone quiet, but be prepared to acknowledge happy sounds from the back seats or maybe coming from the SiriusXM Satellite Radio. If you are worried about the traffic ahead—just switch to SiriusXM Traffic Plus or SiriusXM Travel Link.

3-year or 36,000-mile Basic Limited Warranty
5-year or 60,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-year or 60,000-mile Roadside Assistance Service

Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this paper or at dcaussey@sbcglobal.net.