2017 Dodge Durango Review

2017 Dodge Durango - The 2017 Dodge Durango GT AWD is a tough but comfortable customer.


Price: $40,095

The Dodge Durango GT AWD is handsome, fast, practical and comfortable. There was a time when Dodge trucks were best suited for farm or commercial work, but those days are long gone.

My test Durango GT AWD (all-wheel drive) drove much like a big car. Its electric power steering was firm but quick and the ride was generally supple. However, some road bumps still let you know that you were in a truck. Handling was secure, even on curvy road sections, and it was easy to maneuver this SUV, which comes complete with dual exhaust outlets in keeping with its sporty image.   

The brakes inspired confidence, and the rotary shifter on the console was easy to use without mistaking one gear for another.

Sunlight occasionally washed out gauge readings, but the nicely designed interior was quiet and surrounded occupants with fairly high-grade materials. There were plenty of storage areas.

The Durango GT AWD not only provides the extra security of all-wheel drive but also has ample creature comforts. They include comfortable leather-trimmed power front seats, air conditioning with 3-zone automatic temperature control, pushbutton start, easily used 8.4-inch-inch touchscreen display, rear backup camera, heated front and rear seats, along with a heated steering wheel, and a 60/40 split-and-tumble second-row seat.

Options include a power sunroof and hatch, premium audio system, rear DVD entertainment center, rear seat video system, blind spot and cross-path detection and power tilt/telescopic wheel. You can even get a full-size spare tire if one of the Durango GT's big 20-inch tires goes flat.   

Those who plan on using the third seat a lot should consider the optional second-row fold and tumble captain's chairs. They make it much easier to reach the third-row seat because they have a path between them.

However, there is little cargo room with the third-row seat in its normal, upright position. And getting in and out calls for extra effort.The narrow running boards are virtually useless for helping you enter or leave unless you have a ballerina's foot size. On the flip side, occupants sit high.

My test Durango GT AWD came with a 295-horsepower V-6, which provided plenty  of fast passing on highways. Fiat Chrysler says a 5.7-liter 360-horsepower V-8 also is offered, but it's not really needed unless you're often carry full loads and still want to go real fast.

Durango prices are in the ball park, starting at start at $29,995 and ending at $45,090.  My test Durango GT AWD with a V-6 listed at $40,095, but its many options bumped the price to $48,765, including a $1,095 destination charge.

Estimated Durango GT fuel economy with the V-6 and AWD is 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 on highways, which I found were fairly accurate numbers. Only regular-grade gas is needed. I expected less economy because the Durango is quite heavy.

An efficient eight-speed automatic transmission helps out here in terms of both fuel economy and performance.

Dodge says the estimated cruising range with the V6 is 600 miles and 500 miles with the V-8.

The Durango GT would be a good cruiser for long family summer vacation drives, while providing versatility once a destination was reached.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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