Tested: 2021 Dodge Durango GT

Something old is new again. The Dodge Durango may be getting on in years, but it is aging well!

It has been on the market for more than a decade. It got a refresh for the 2014 model year with some cosmetic and mechanical changes. And now, again.

The 2021 Dodge Durango has a fresh look up front with new LED headlights, new grill and front bumper.

 

2021 Dodge Durango GT (Photo: Matthew Guy)

 

The 2021 Dodge Durango gives the overall impression of a vehicle in a higher-price class.

The interior changes are more significant, starting with a new driver-oriented instrument panel. The seats and door trim have been upgraded.

 

2021 Dodge Durango GT (Photo: Matthew Guy)

 

This mid-size, three-row crossover is based on the same unibody platform as the Jeep Grand Cherokee. However, it rides on a lengthened wheelbase providing the space for a third row of seats. Some competitors offer more space in the second row and cargo area but none can match the towing numbers.

A 26-centimetre infotainment display appears on all but base trim levels, providing a showcase for the newest version of the excellent Uconnect system. Processing speeds are five times faster than its predecessor and controls are intuitive. Rich in content, and easy to personalize this is one of the most user-friendly systems on the market.

 

2021 Dodge Durango GT (Photo: Matthew Guy)

 

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. The display, perched atop the dash, is configurable and includes Amazon Alexa compatibility and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Another sign the Durango has kept up with the times, is a wireless smartphone charging pad.

 

2021 Dodge Durango (Photo: Garry Sowerby)

 

 

The 2021 Dodge Durango is a macho crossover.

That impression continues under the hood. Most competitors offer a four-cylinder engine with the ability to upgrade to a V6. The Durango’s base engine is a beefy 3.6-litre V6 producing 295 horsepower.

 

2021 Dodge Durango GT is powered by a 295-horsepower 3.6-litre V6 engine. (Photo: Matthew Guy)

 

Want or need more? You can opt for 360- or 475- horsepower Hemi V8s.

Still not enough? Take a monster step to the head of the pack, all packs – the 709-horsepower, suitably named – and priced – Durango Hellcat!

The 2021 Durango is available in four trim levels – SXT ($43,244); GT ($47,744), Citadel ($54,944) and the ridiculous Hellcat ($115,700). I spent a week and almost 1,000 kilometres with the meekest of the Durango pack – the V6 in GT trim with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive.

It may be the least powerful Durango, but even in that guise, it leads the mid-size pack in towing capacity. Each step up the engine and power ladder take it further up that road to as much as 8,700 lbs.

 

It only takes a kilometre or even less to appreciate how well the engineering team has hidden the age of the 2021 Dodge Durango.

The ride quality over poor surfaces is exemplary, as is the lack of road and wind noise. There is a first and lasting impression of quality and upscale comfort.

 

2021 Dodge Durango GT (Photo: Matthew Guy)

 

The sheer size and 5,000-lb weight present a challenge for the V6 engine. But it is well up to the task, pulling away from rest with aplomb and passing or climbing long hills with ease. There really is no need to opt for a thirstier V8 engine unless you plan on towing some serious stuff.

With a V6 engine and an empty weight of 5,000 pounds, you’d expect fuel economy to suffer in comparison to the four-cylinder competition – and it does, but not by as much as you’d expect.

In this corner of the country, where hills are a normal occurrence, the Dodge Durango GT is less challenged by gradient changes that cause turbocharged engines to call upon the extra boost to maintain speed.

 

The 2021 Dodge Durango is more spry than it looks on paper and than its age would have you believe.

The Durango is sprightlier than the specs would have you expect. The rear-drive platform is likely a major contributor to that agility. Pushed hard it will reveal its height and weight.

The ability to absorb road blemishes is the overwhelming impression. There is a surprising balance between ride and handling.

The 2021 Dodge Durango may be the elder statesman in the class, but it has been wisely updated and hides that age very well. It brings a nicely appointed interior, excellent ride quality, class-leading towing capability and the ability to opt for a V8 engine.

 

2021 Dodge Durango GT (Photo: Matthew Guy)

 

FACTS & FIGURES – 2021 Dodge Durango GT AWD

 

PRICE

Base: $52,895

As tested: $62,710 including freight

 

SAFETY

Rain brake support, ready alert braking, trailer sway control, wireless communication with Bluetooth streaming

 

INFOTAINMENT

Optional nine speaker, 506-watt Alpine audio system with subwoofer, Uconnect 5 Nav with 26-cm display (global telematics, disassociated touchscreen, satellite radio trial, connected travel and traffic services, 4G LTE hotspot, GPS navigation

 

STANDARD EQUIPMENT

LED headlights, park sense rear park assist, keyless sentry, push-button start, cruise control leather seating surfaces, power heated mirrors, 115-volt outlet, heated front and second row seats, power liftgate, eight-way power driver’s seat with memory, six-way power passenger seats, memory settings for mirrors, radio, and driver seat, universal garage door opener, heated steering wheel

 

SIGNIFICANT OPTIONS

Ultraviolet Metallic paint, $245; technology group (lane departure warning with lane keep assist, forward collision warning with active braking, advanced brake assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go,), $950; Blacktop package,(20-in black alloy wheels, gloss black badging and mirrors) $595;  Trailer Tow Group IV (full-size spare, trailer brake control, heavy duty cooling, rear load-levelling suspension, four and seven pin wiring harness, Class IV hitch receiver), $950; Second row fold and tumble captain’s chairs (six-passenger seating, third row floor mat and mini console, second row seat-mounted armrests, second row mini console with cupholder), $600; premium instrument panel, $995; performance hood, $995; nine speaker, 506-watt Alpine audio system with subwoofer), $995; Uconnect 5 Nav with 26-cm display (global telematics, disassociated touchscreen, satellite radio trial, connected travel and traffic services, 4G LTE hotspot, GPS navigation), $995; blind spot monitoring with rear cross-path detection, $500

 

MECHANICAL

3.6-litre V6, 295 horsepower, 260 lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel. Eight speed automatic transmission, full-time all-wheel-drive. NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 12.7 / 9.6

 

DIMENSIONS

Length, 5,101 mm; width, 2,172 mm; wheelbase, 3,042 mm; weight, 2,261 kg.

 

COMPETITION

Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Acadia, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Pallisade, Kia Telluride, Mazda CX-9

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