2020 Dodge Durango

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Brian León Brian León Contributing Writer
September 30, 2019

Buying tip

Since active safety features are extra on the Durango, put aside an extra $2,600 or so for features like automatic emergency braking.

The 2020 Dodge Durango takes on family crossover SUVs with brute strength, and some old-school compromises.

The 2020 Dodge Durango is a big, powerful, crossover SUV that muscles minivans out of the way. With an available high-performance model and three rows of seats, we give this aging brute 5.2 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2020 Durango comes in SXT, GT, R/T, Citadel, and SRT editions. This year, the Durango R/T wears new badges, gets a new premium interior package with a suede headliner and instrument panel, and adopts a new 20-inch wheel design.

Though showing its age, the Durango’s smooth body echoes Dodge’s muscle car lineup with a wide and bold front end with deep hood scoops on some models, and a rear that was one of the first in recent memory to feature the now-ubiquitous full-width taillight design. The interior hasn’t aged quite as well but features a simple center stack that places all the controls clearly within reach.

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The Durango’s hallmark trait is arguably its powertrain lineup, offering big power in three old-school engine variants. A stalwart V-6 that comes standard yields 293 horsepower (or 295 with sport exhaust), while the optional 5.7-liter V-8 brings 360 hp and a great sound with it. For those who love energy drinks and Metallica but still have a family to haul around, there’s the hilarious 475-hp Durango SRT with a big 6.4-liter V-8 and plenty of performance upgrades. Rear-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available. The Durango’s comfortable ride and maximum 8,700-pound towing capacity (in SRT form) make it a capable road trip machine.

Available in five versions and with a variety of powertrain options, the Durango ranges from value-oriented minivan alternative to downright muscle truck, but all models are well equipped with touchscreen infotainment, tri-zone climate control, USB inputs, and keyless ignition. The interior is vast and configurable, featuring seating for up to seven occupants, and a maximum of 85 cubic feet of cargo space. 

Where the Durango falls behind is in terms of safety and fuel economy, receiving only 4 stars overall in crash tests from the federal government, and managing a maximum of 21 mpg combined (15 mpg combined for the thirsty SRT model). Active safety technologies are available, but come with an additional cost when other rivals make them standard or less expensive.

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2020 Dodge Durango

Styling

The 2020 Dodge Durango has a muscular bod, but the interior’s grown old.

The 2020 Dodge Durango is a product of the brand’s “everything we make is a muscle car” styling language, and it works. We give it 6 out of 10 despite its relative age. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

If there’s such thing as a “muscle SUV,” the Durango is it. Especially in R/T and ridiculous SRT form, the Durango’s sculpted lines and optional hood scoops and honeycomb grille are reminiscent of the Charger sedan in a good way. More luxury-oriented models get chrome accents and are generally more reserved, but the Durango is a sharp-looking SUV in any form. 

The interior is less attention-grabbing but does feature a simple symmetrical design with rounded corners, high-quality materials, and a center stack that places big knobs and buttons clearly within reach.

If we’ve got one complaint about the Durango’s looks, it’s that they’ve barely changed for years now. Dodge hasn’t rolled out a new model in a long time, and the Durango’s design underscores that. In the SUV wars, shiny and new go a long way.

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2020 Dodge Durango

Performance

The 2020 Dodge Durango performs well in any form but is downright hilarious in 475-hp SRT guise.

The 2020 Dodge Durango features an engine lineup worthy of its highest-performance vehicles. That translates to big capability and big smiles, warranting a rating of 6 out of 10 here based on the most popular engine, the base V-6. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

As standard, the Durango gets the tried-and-true 3.6-liter V-6 with 293 horsepower and rear-wheel drive; with sport exhaust, it adds 2 hp. The venerable V-6 is plenty capable and returns the best fuel economy of the bunch, even in optional all-wheel-drive form, but those looking for more power will want the 5.7-liter V-8. Optional on the Citadel trim and standard on the sporty R/T, this 360-hp mill sounds great and adds about 1,000 pounds of towing capacity for a total of 7,400 lbs with rear-wheel drive.

The star of the show, however, is the Durango SRT, which packs muscle car performance into a seven-seat package. Featuring a 6.4-liter V-8 with 475 hp straight out of the Challenger and Charger SRT, this muscle truck can tow 8,700 pounds and comes standard with all-wheel drive. It’s hilarious fun to drive despite its size, and though extremely expensive, is by far our favorite Durango.

All engines come with an 8-speed automatic transmission that shifts quickly and decisively, and all-wheel drive is optional across the range. One area that could be improved is the ride quality, which can be on the uncomfortable side of stiff in less luxury-oriented trims. Steering is precise and nicely weighted, and the Durango is almost nimble considering its size.

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2020 Dodge Durango

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Dodge Durango is comfortable enough for four adults, and up to seven people in a pinch.

The 2020 Dodge Durango features more than enough space for four adults, but any more is a tight squeeze. We give it 7 out of 10 though, with consideration for its ample front seats and its impressive cargo space. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

At over $30,000 to start, the Durango is suitably well-equipped and features high-quality materials, from the soft-touch dash to optional leather on higher-spec models. 

Seating for up to seven is one of the Durango’s top selling points, but while there’s seating for seven, it really delivers excellent comfort for four. 

The firm, chairlike front thrones offer good long-distance support. They’re big, comfortable, and offer plenty of adjustment. 

The second row is similarly comfortable. Two adults will be comfortable in the middle row, but three abreast is a tighter squeeze than the Durango’s size implies.  

The third row is is habitable by adults for short distances only. It’s split 50/50, able to be folded flat into the floor. 

The standard second-row layout folds forward, too, to greatly expand cargo space. Put both rear rows down and Dodge says there’s room for a six-foot couch and a coffee table, or to carry 10-foot 2x4s.

Behind the third row, the Durango features 17 cubic feet of storage capacity, better than some three-row SUVs but not as good as most minivans. That number grows to 43.3 cubes behind the second row, and a maximum of 85 cubic feet with both rear rows folded flat. Towing capacity is also an impressive 8,700 pounds in SRT form, but most Durangos can tow over 6,000 pounds.

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2020 Dodge Durango

Safety

The 2020 Dodge Durango is a letdown in terms of safety scores and standard active tech.

The 2020 Dodge Durango is a letdown in the safety department, where it’s compromised by an old platform and safety tech that’s only optional. We give it 2 out of 10 as such. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For years now, the NHTSA has been smashing Durangos into a wall with the same result: four stars overall, with all-wheel-drive models receiving only a three-star rollover rating. The IIHS has found similar nits to pick, giving the Durango only a “Marginal” score for both the driver’s side small front overlap and headlights.

While active safety technology like automatic emergency braking, active lane control, lane-departure warnings, and adaptive cruise control are available, they cost an extra $2,600 on any Durango model. Usually when vehicles get this far along in their lifespan, the manufacturers see fit to include more standard equipment. We wish the product planners at Dodge would read that memo.

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2020 Dodge Durango

Features

The 2020 Dodge Durango misses out on key safety features, but is otherwise well-equipped.

For a $30,000-plus family SUV, the 2020 Dodge Durango misses out on standard safety gear, but has good infotainment. Other competitors provide better value and better warranties.

We give the 2020 Durango a 6 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The base SXT model comes with the V-6 engine and rear-wheel drive, as well as automatic headlights, 18-inch wheels, three-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, two USB ports, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and keyless ignition. We recommend stepping up one trim level to the GT, which gets rear parking assist, 20-inch wheels, LED fog lamps, power mirrors, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, a third-row bench seat, and more optional appearance and equipment packages.

The sporty R/T comes standard with the 5.7-liter V-8 and sport suspension, as well as remote start, rain-sensing wipers, a memory system for seat position and radio presets, power front seats, heated front and rear seats, and combination leather and suede upholstery. The R/T also gets an excellent 8.4-inch infotainment system with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and Alpine premium audio with 9 speakers.

The Citadel trim throws nearly every luxury option in the book at the Durango, with leather upholstery, chrome trim, second row captain’s chairs, 20-inch polished wheels, and more.

Finally, the top-dog SRT features a 475-horsepower V-8, performance upgrades to the cooling system, suspension, and more, special nappa leather bucket seats with suede trim, and basically every piece of equipment from the R/T model. At over $63,000 to start, it’s priced like a luxury SUV, but it’s up to you to decide whether that hilarious V-8 power is worth it or not.

The Durango’s warranty is average at 3 years/36,000 miles, or 5 years/50,000 miles for powertrain coverage.

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2020 Dodge Durango

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Dodge Durango’s old-school powertrains return worse-than-average fuel economy.

A big SUV with old-school powertrains is not likely to be a fuel economy star, as is the case with the 2020 Dodge Durango. Accordingly, we give it a 4 out of 10 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The base Durango with the 3.6-liter V-6 and rear-wheel drive is the most efficient model, managing 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 21 combined. Interestingly, all-wheel drive barely represents a penalty, dropping city and highway figures by 1 mpg each but managing 21 mpg overall as well.

The 5.7-liter V-8 comes with a price, bringing fuel economy down to 14/22/17 mpg for both rear- and all-wheel drive, but adding $800 to the total average fuel cost because mid-grade gasoline is required. The SRT model requires premium fuel and gets only 13/19/15 mpg. That’s the price you pay for big V-8 fun.

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5.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 2
Features 6
Fuel Economy 4
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