With a rich performance legacy stemming from vehicles like the Charger and Challenger, Dodge’s prowess for high-performance has never been in question. When the topic switches from four-door sedans to the award-winning 2012 Durango SUV, the philosophy remains the same: Design, engineer and build vehicles worth driving, and the drivers and awards will follow.
The 2012 Durango (starting MSRP $28,995) is the latest example of a commitment to superior performance, and it’s quickly assembling a trophy case full of awards to prove it. In fact, the newest Durango recently took home top honors from the staff at MotorWeek who named the three-row SUV “Driver’s Choice, Best Large Utility” at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show. Evaluating the Durango through the discerning eyes of the consumer, and taking into account everything from value and reliability to performance and innovation, MotorWeek judged the Durango to be the finest in its class.
It’s a distinction that will come as no surprise to Durango drivers who have experienced the uncompromising, class-leading performance firsthand. Beneath its commanding, sculpted frame, the new Durango gets a standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, named one of Ward’s “Ten Best Engines” in 2011. The V6 makes 290 hp, a number unsurpassed by any V6 in the segment (including those in the Honda Pilot and Chevy Traverse), and achieves an EPA-estimated 23 highway mpg and a best in class 550 miles on a single tank of gas.
Upgrade to the available 5.7-liter HEMI V8 and you’ll find more segment bests including best-in-class horsepower and torque (360 and 390, respectively) and best-in-class All-Wheel Drive V8 fuel efficiency (up to 20 highway mpg). The advanced HEMI in the Durango even gets Fuel Saver Technology, which automatically switches from eight cylinders to four to conserve fuel while cruising.
Properly equipped, the Durango V6 not only provides exceptional quickness, it delivers class-leading brute strength. V6 models tow up to 6,200 pounds, which is nearly a half-ton more than the Ford Explorer. The optional HEMI boosts that number even further, allowing the Durango to haul an impressive 7,400 pounds, and Trailer Sway Control is available to make taking advantage of all that capability easier.
The Durango features an almost perfect 50:50 weight distribution, ensuring exceptional balance and impressively nimble handling. Rack-and-pinion electro-hydraulic power steering and an aggressive suspension setup––with big sway bars and sporty shock and spring rates––deliver smooth, precise steering and little body roll around tight turns. V8 models get the available active All-Wheel Drive system along with a two-speed transfer case for superior traction on tough and slippery terrain while Electronic Stability Control helps keep the Durango on its proper, intended line. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes get the backing of Brake Assist, Rain Brake Support (slight pressure to the calipers to dry wet pads) and Ready-Alert Braking (a system that senses a possible panic stop and applies slight, anticipatory brake pressure should you lift your foot off the accelerator too quickly).
There’s more to delivering a vehicle worth driving than horsepower and handling alone. A sport utility vehicle worth its wheels needs to be versatile, spacious, comfortable and safe. Fortunately, the 2012 Durango is all of the above, and it’s also an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) “Top Safety Pick” to boot, but it’s the exceptional, class-leading performance specs that make the new Durango an award winner, and a winner with drivers.