Duke’s Drive is all about my experiences with driving new vehicles. It truly is a privilege to be able to drive a brand new vehicle for a week and share my thoughts with you. It is a responsibility that I don’t take lightly, or for granted. I know the pains of wanting to test-drive a vehicle you’re interested in buying, and it’s not an enjoyable experience. These are the stories of my experiences.
The Durango has always held an interesting position in the Dodge lineup. Offering the capacity of a family hauler but with much more dynamic style, it’s a model range that can go from mild to wild based on specification. When I drove the 2015 Durango AWD, I was largely impressed with the combination of decent power, great looks, well-appointed interior and plentiful room. Does that same recipe result in an equally appealing dish in 2016? I borrowed this 2016 Durango Limited from Dodge for a week to find out.
First up, I’m happy to admit I was off about one thing in my 2015 review: the Durango isn’t headed for the graveyard. There were some serious rumors that the ’15 would be the last model year, but happily, that never came to fruition. Instead, it lives on through 2016, including a few particularly striking special editions. One of those, the Brass Monkey Appearance Package, came equipped on my tester. This is one of those cases where pictures really don’t do a vehicle justice. This is a remarkably good looking setup, featuring 20-inch bronze aluminum wheels, black badging, grille and headlights, along with body-colored fascias, antenna, sill and wheel lip moldings. Matched with velvet red pearl coat paint, this might be my new favorite spec for the Durango.
Brass Monkey (seriously, how great is that name?) aside, there are a few other key differences that separate ’15 and ’16 models years. To start with, models equipped with the 3.6L V6 (like my tester) now feature engine start-stop. I’ll be honest, it’s something I could do without. However, to balance any annoyance out, there’s now a standard Sport Mode. Essentially, it recalibrates the shift pattern, pedal calibration and steering for a more dynamic, aggressive experience. Overall, it does a really solid job of working to get the most possible out of the Durango’s powertrain and suspension, while still being comfortable enough to use practically whenever you feel like a little more oomph.
Like the last time around, the interior is where the Durango absolutely cleans up. My family is a big fan, and it’s not hard to see why. The leather seats are phenomenally comfortable, Beats audio system absolutely rocks, and the DVD/Blu-ray entertainment system was a very welcome option (nice player location in the center console between the front seats, too). No, I’m not overly wild about the rotary shifter. But, that point aside, I’d no-questions-asked take this Durango cross country and back again. It’s that well-equipped, spacious and comfortable. No doubt in my mind that this cruiser is meant to absolutely devour miles.
Right out of the box, this is a seriously good looking SUV. With the aftermarket’s help, I’d focused on three main areas: making it lower, louder and meaner. Specifically, start with some quality lowering springs or coilovers to lose the wheel gap and emphasize the fender flares. Second, find a quality exhaust system to give a slightly louder, more purposeful voice. Finally, definitely adding some deep window tint all the way around to contribute to the sport-luxury feel (depending of course on your local legislation).
Given all of the appointments that this Durango brings to the table, it’s almost surprising it sits only $10k above base price. All in, my tester came out to a total of $49,560. Sure, that’s a little steep for a generic family hauler, but the 2016 Durango is anything but generic. In an automotive segment that doesn’t always ooze style, the Durango still remains a head-turner, especially when ordered with such a color scheme. Not only am I more pleased with the ’16 than I was the ’15 (which I already liked quite a lot), I’m also left wondering if Dodge could take this successful platform even further. Durango SRT, anyone?