New Car: 2011 Dodge Durango

Don’t be alarmed if you think the 2011 Dodge Durango looks a lot like a stretched Jeep Grand Cherokee with a crosshair grille, because that’s essentially what it is. While the underpinnings are largely shared, Dodge tells us that the Durango is more focused on hauling people—it has three rows to the Grand Cherokee’s two—than crawling over rocks. And so while Jeep boasts about off-road capability, Dodge will play up the crossovery-ness and on-road performance of the Durango.

After taking a pass on the 2010 model year, the third-generation Durango appears thirteen years after the original model was introduced. Unlike the body-on-frame SUV it replaces, the 2011 Durango now sits on a unibody platform that it and the Grand Cherokee share with the Mercedes-Benz M- and GL-classes. The base engine will be Chrysler’s new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 while the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 continues as the optional engine, just as with the Jeep. All-wheel drive will be optional, but Dodge won’t give specifics on what types of systems will be offered. We expect some sharing with the Grand Cherokee, with Jeep reserving for itself the more capable, off-road-oriented transfer cases. An optional air suspension also is likely for the Durango, especially given its claimed performance intentions and the availability of such a system on the GC. Towing capacity is quoted as 6200 pounds with the V-6 and 7400 pounds with the Hemi, which is down slightly from its truck-based predecessor. A trailer-sway-control system will be standard.

The styling is bold if a bit softer than the Grand Cherokee’s. The Durango finally loses the two-level front end that previously tied its look to those of the Dakota (on which it was based) and the larger Ram. Grille inserts on the model shown here have a chain-link appearance, and the front fascia extends low to the ground, giving a hunkered-down look and presumably helping with aerodynamics. There are striking similarities to the Grand Cherokee in the rear, with wraparound taillamps bridged by a chrome bar. We haven’t gotten a look at the interior yet, but we expect it to be very similar in style and execution to that of—you guessed it—the new Grand Cherokee.

Thanks to: Car and Driver


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