Lunacy Within Reason: The 2017 Dodge Durango R/T

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Dodge Durango R/T
The 2017 Dodge Durango R/T.
Let us, for a moment, say that you, like I, read our Publisher and Executive Editor's review of the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT last month and thought "That's a fun vehicle", but blanched a bit at the 485 horsepower, the EPA fuel economy estimate of 13 city/19 highway and the as-tested price of $78,355.  Suppose you like the idea, but would like to dial some of that down a notch or two, still resulting in a faster and sportier than average SUV without quite the same penalty at the payment book and the pump?

Let me introduce you to the 2017 Dodge Durango R/T.

Side view of 2017 Dodge Durango R/T
2017 Dodge Durango R/T.
The Durango is a long-wheelbase version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the R/T is the top-of-the-line performance model.  While Dodge is perfectly capable of some insanely powered automobiles---the Charger Daytona 392 and Challenger R/T 392 that Michael drove at the Western Automotive Journalists' Media Days last month are good examples, to say nothing of 707-horsepower Hellcats and 840-horsepower Demons---Dodge draws the line on horsepower for the 2017 Durango with the R/T and its 360-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi--though it looks like a 6.4-liter Hemi SRT version will be on the menu for 2018.

Combined with an eight-speed automatic transmission, the 2017 Dodge Durango R/T is still able to get from zero to 60 in the six-second range, and fuel economy improves somewhat over its Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT cousin to 14 city/22 highway.  Best of all, the base price is a significantly more reasonable $42,095. Base for the Jeep is $66,795.  You also get a smoother ride, partly because the SRT suspension bits are not involved and partly because of the longer wheelbase.

Interior view of 2017 Dodge Durango
2017 Dodge Durango R/T interior.
The interior is comfortable and, in what may be a surprise if you have not been in a Dodge in the past decade, well-finished with high-quality materials.  Fiat Chrysler has done wonders in that respect since taking control.

The $42,095 base price includes a lot of standard equipment, including a rotary shifter and paddle shifters, selectable steering modes, electric power steering, auto-dimming rearview mirror, a backup camera, rear parking assist with stop, anti-lock four-wheel heavy duty disc brakes, remote start, keyless go, a sport suspension, trailer sway damping, a 3.09 rear axle ratio, a security alarm, rain-sensing wipers, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel wrapped in perforated leather, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, power four-way lumbar adjustment for the driver and front passenger, memory for the radio, driver's seat and mirrors, three-zone automatic climate control, navigation, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Travel Link and Traffic, 20-inch low-gloss granite crystal wheels, LED daytime running lamps, low beam HID headlamps, projector fog lamps, automatic headlamp leveling system, a power liftgate and dual rear exhaust with bright tips.

Again, that is all standard, and for $42,095, buying one stock would constitute the SUV bargain of the year, to say nothing of the performance SUV bargain of the year.

Our tester, however, had options:

  • Technology Group (Adaptive cruise control with stop, advanced brake assist, blind spot and cross path detection, full speed forward collision warning, lane departure warning) $2,295.
  • Rear DVD Entertainment Center (Blue-Ray compatible dual-screen video) $1,995.
  • Second-row fold & tumble captain's chairs and a second-row mini-console with cupholders. $995.
  • Power sunroof. $1,195.
Add $1,095 destination charge and the as-tested price still sneaks in under $50,000 at $49,670.  And that is still a bargain in this size class, even apart from the performance capabilities. Consider the $55,000-plus V6 Ford Explorer that Michael tested last fall.

For most of us, the 2017 Dodge Durango is all the performance one could want from an SUV, and the value equation makes it very hard to beat.