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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
a good compromise between the medium and extra-large SUVs
doesn't like corners
one of the quickest SUVs available
The 2008 Dodge Durango provides a good amount of power--as long as you get the biggest engine.
The standard engine on the 2008 Dodge Durango remains the 210-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6. A new version of Chrysler's 4.7-liter V-8 is available, with 303 hp and flex-fuel capability. The 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 returns as the Durango's top powerplant, offering 330 hp and 375 pound-feet of torque.
Automotive.com reports "both V8 engines are good choices but for overall power, cost, and fuel economy we'd opt for the 5.7-liter Hemi." According to this source, the V-6 can barely get this hulk moving, and its fuel consumption is about the same as the next engine up, a 4.7-liter V-8. However, the 5.7-liter V-8 provides substantially more power at about the same cost in terms of fuel, thanks largely to the 2008 Dodge Multi-Displacement System, which allows this engine to run on four cylinders at cruise speeds. The 5.7-liter HEMI is not the be-all and end-all, according to Cars.com: "Response from the Hemi V-8 is less vigorous than expected." Edmunds also recommends the largest engine: "When equipped with the powerful Hemi V8, the 2008 Durango is one of the quickest SUVs available for the money."
A "four-speed automatic transmission teams with the V-6, but V-8 models drive a five-speed automatic," reports Cars.com, adding this 2008 Dodge can cart "up to 8,950 pounds of towing capacity when properly equipped." "For more serious off-roaders, an available two-speed transfer case features shift-on-the-fly capability between locked high-range or low-range modes," says Edmunds.
Of course, these engines are thirsty, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of difference between them: EPA-estimated mileage is rated at 14 mpg city/19 mpg highway for 2WD models equipped with the 3.7-liter V-6, while 13/18 mpg is the estimate for 4WD trucks running a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8. Edmunds suggests "the new-generation 4.7-liter V8 is expected to have fuel economy similar to the Hemi."
Obviously, when you have a nearly 5,000-pound vehicle, you want plenty of stopping power–-which, according to Automotive.com, is exactly what you get with this Dodge; 2008’s Durango has "big vented discs with twin-piston calipers in front, just the thing for holding back this heavy beast." With anti-lock and electronic force distribution, the brakes have "straight and true" stopping from 70 mph in repeated tests.
Handling, though, is a little less confident. Cars.com cites handling problems; this Dodge 2008 "is a little too inclined to edge out of its lane." ConsumerGuide confirms this impression, reporting that the 2008 Dodge Durango "reacts slowly in quick changes of direction." On the other hand, "The steering is pretty impressive for a vehicle of this size, with good response and feedback that allow the driver to make exact lane changes and easily negotiate tight turns," reports Kelley Blue Book. Edmunds says "in spite of its large size, the 2008 Dodge Durango delivers a satisfying balance between a smooth, composed ride and crisp handling through corners," adding that "four-wheel-drive versions are also quite capable off-road, offering plenty of wheel travel and responsive manners." On the other hand, Mother Proof declares that it "doesn't like corners, and it really doesn't like it when I go off my driveway's curb at a bit of an angle," also noting that "head-bonks against the window were reported by numerous passengers."
The best 2008 Dodge Durango is the one powered by the 5.7-liter V-8 engine, but it’s thirsty.