If you need three rows of seating, a high driving position, and a civilized ride, but don't really want a crossover, there aren't many choices. Our current favorite: the Dodge Durango, the SUV you'll swear feels like a crossover, the subject of our latest video road test.
The key to any vehicle like the Durango is utility. The front bucket seats are great--wide but supportive. All Durangos feature three rows of seats, and an adult can comfortably sit in the third row for long road trips. The second row offers plenty of leg room and the seats recline for those who like to take naps on long road trips. Unfortunately, with the third row up there isn't a ton of cargo room.
The Durango is available with either a powerful 360-horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 with cylinder deactivation, or Chrysler's new Pentastar V-6 with 290 horsepower. The V-6 feature a five-speed automatic while the HEMI V-8 gets a six-speed, and both engines are available with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.
The Durango earns an EPA rating of 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway in both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive with the V-6. Opt for the HEMI V-8 and the ratings drop to 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway with rear-wheel drive. Add all-wheel drive and you lose 1 mpg in the city for a 13/20-mpg rating.
The Durango is a solid pick for those who hold safety as a priority. It has received top scores in all the categories which gives it a top safety pick designation by the IIHS.
With a base price just under $30,000, the Durango offers standard audio controls on the steering wheel and tri-zone climate control, but Bluetooth is optional on the base model, and features such as power seats, heated seats, and push button start aren't even available on the base model.
The bottom line? The Durango has a big interior, good handling and as much performance as you can handle at today's gas prices. It may carry itself like a civilized family wagon, but the Dodge Durango can do the dirty deeds when it needs to.