For 2012, Dodge Durango adds a new 6-speed automatic transmission to go with the Hemi V8. 2012 Durango trim levels have been simplified and the number of Durango variants reduced. The 2012 Durango is available with second-row captain's chairs. This SUV will work best for those with varied needs: plenty of seats, good cargo capacity and great hauling flexibility, class-leading towing capacity or dual-range all-wheel drive. The standard setup is rear-wheel drive, yielding even weight distribution, a compliant bump-soaking ride, quiet cruising and good response to driver commands. The 2012 Dodge Durango is available in four trim levels, with either a V6 or V8 engine. All Durangos come standard with seating for seven and an automatic transmission, and all are available with all-wheel drive. The standard 3.6-liter V6 brings 290 horsepower and 260 lb. ft. of torque, and it is paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission. The V-8 engine brings 360 horsepower and 390 lb. ft. of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. All Durango models seat seven adults comfortably in a cabin that looks better than before
The Dodge Durango offers a fine mix of passenger-friendly transportation and truck-style ability to work. It starts with rear-wheel drive, in a class increasingly dominated by vehicles built on a front-drive foundation, yet it has a fully independent rear suspension and it's built with a one-piece unibody/frame, rather than a truck-style ladder frame. The Durango is easy to drive, with a comfortable ride empty or loaded, and it's quiet inside. If you think you need front-wheel drive for traction, think again. Most front-drive vehicles carry more weight over the front wheels, where it helps traction. The Durango carries as much weight on the back wheels as the front, and just winter tires and the standard traction control will take it farther than most owners plan to go. Durango's excellent balance and rear-wheel drive also mean the four tires do more equal work. Front tires aren't overwhelmed pulling lots of weight while doing the steering, and rear tires do more than hold the tailgate off the ground. This is one reason the Durango steers crisply and needs less U-turn space than its rivals.
The Durango's interior blends a lot of the space, flexibility and family friendly features of a minivan with seating that's less upright and design that's a bit more anti-utilitarian. Trim varies by model, no surprise, and the fit and finish is generally good. Above your waistline materials are soft-touch or heavily textured, while those closer to the floor are harder plastics that are scratch-resistant and easy to clean. R/T models come with black, pseudo-suede upholstery broken up by red stitching. The SXT and Crew come with cloth that negates temperature extremes, with a lighter headliner to brighten the cabin. The Citadel comes standard with black or tan leather. Outward visibility is good. The windshield pillar is slimmed mid-way to aid front quarter vision, and the door pillars will be behind most drivers. The third-row headrests don't block the view because there is a dash switch that drops them at the touch of a button. The optional rearview camera comes in handy when Durango is fully loaded with passengers. The front wipe/wash coverage is very good, the rear is good, and the headlights provide good illumination. HID headlights are available on some models, low-beam only. The front buckets are on the soft side: very comfortable and not confining for short hauls, reasonably supportive to handle more miles at a time. Engine revs and road speed are shown in two very large gauges, trimmed with a blue LED ring that almost looks like neon, and inset with smaller fuel and coolant-temperature gauges. The Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC) sits between, displaying everything from fuel economy or oil temperature to how long the lights stay on when you park, operated via left thumb-switches on the steering wheel. All controls, the door handles, door pockets and the cupholders are illuminated with that icy-blue. The gauges are back-lit in off-white. Most controls are straightforward, and we're fond of the simplicity in the switch layout. The gear selector is a model of efficiency, with no buttons to press and a simple push left from the Drive position to downshift, right to upshift. Temperature controls are split into three zones, or can be matched with the touch of one button.
It wouldn't be a Dodge without a big cross-hair grille, and the Durango doesn't disappoint. Its grille is broad and tall enough to deliver presence, especially given its forward slant in a class where most front ends slope rearward for aerodynamic reasons. Yet with its chrome flourishes and finer detailing, the Durango's nose is more elegant than the macho, blunt-snouted designs that preceded it. Several exterior features are intended to improve durability. The wheel-well openings and lower edges all around the perimeter are dark plastic to avoid scuffing and rock chips. The rear bumper has a top cover to avoid paint damage should you rest a heavy package or stand there to reach the roof. The low-profile roof rails have swivel-out crossbars built in so wind noise is reduced when there's no cargo up there. There is a small attachment loop at each rail end.
Durango SXT is powered by a 290-hp 3.6-liter V6 with a 5-speed automatic. It comes well equipped, with cloth upholstery, three-zone temperature control, cruise control, a compliment of power features, six-speaker audio with single CD, Sirius satellite radio and Uconnect hands-free phone operation, a fold-flat front passenger seat, 50/50-split folding third-row seats, 60/40-split fold/tumble second-row seats, and 18-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires. All-wheel drive is optional.
Durango Crew and Crew AWD come with the V6, upgraded Alpine audio with a 6.5-inch touch-screen media center, power driver and front passenger seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, rearview camera, Keyless Enter-N-Go proximity key, and power liftgate. Crew models can also be equipped with the 360-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V8, which features cylinder de-activation technology and comes with a 6-speed automatic.
Durango R/T and R/T AWD are the sportiest Durangos, powered by the Hemi V8 with a lowered suspension, bigger brakes, 20-inch wheels, body-color trim and suede-like, red-stitched upholstery. The R/T comes standard with the Alpine audio and remote start.
Durango Citadel and Citadel AWD are the top of the line. They come standard with the V6, but also with nearly all available luxury features, including Nappa perforated leather seating, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, sunroof, the best audio with on-board hard drive, HID headlamps, blind spot warning, rear cross-path detection, adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning, R/T brakes and the 20-inch wheels. Citadel models are also available with the V8.
Options include a couple of packages for the lower-trim Durangos. The Popular Equipment Group for SXT adds the audio upgrade with 40GB hard drive, leather-wrapped steering wheel, auto-dimming inside mirror, rear park sensors and a rearview camera. The Leather Group for Crew and R/T adds leather seats with two-position memory in front, heated front and second-row seats, and a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system is available. Stand-alone options for all Durangos includes a towing package, with Class IV hitch, full-size spare tire, upgraded cooling and load-leveling rear shocks, skid plates, a roof rack, engine block heater and the sunroof.
The Dodge Durango can carry six or seven people comfortably and rack up the vacation miles in quiet, comfortable solitude interrupted only by the half-kilowatt Alpine stereo. It can tow more than just about anything in its class, but it's full of the conveniences you never thought of before and now can't do without. The optional V8 is genuine fun, and its addictive sound is frosting on cake. By class benchmarks the Durango has a refined ride and solidly finished cabin. Fore more on the 2012 Dodge Durango, click here.
Some of the information for this review was obtained through newcartestdrive.com
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