The Durango GT AWD is a unique value proposition in today’s SUV-filled market.
When winter is in full swing here in Canada, SUVs are the go-to choice when deciding how to get to the office or cottage through the continuous onslaught of ice storms and blizzards. We were given the pleasure of riding out one of those ice storms from the cavernous confines of a 2019 Dodge Durango GT AWD, a compelling player in the current sport-utility segment.
One level up from the base model SXT, the GT trim level adds a bunch of standard features such as body-coloured exterior trim, leather faced and suede covered seats, heated seats for the first and second rows, a heated steering wheel, power liftgate, remote starter, LED daytime running and fog lamps, seat memory, and an alarm system. All of this comes at a starting price of $50,145.
Living somewhere in the mid-level of trims available on the Durango, the interior of the GT is geared more towards utility and simplicity than luxury, as can be noted by the lack of larger engine options, a sunroof or upgraded sound system. Opting for the second row captains chairs with the center console makes a very big difference, however that elevates this Durango to a very family-friendly vehicle for those that are wishing to avoid a minivan. If you are worried that this will prevent you from using the Durango for trips to Home Depot, don’t be. The center console has a nifty trick where it can fold forward like the seats to still give one big flat surface.
If you’ve been cross shopping the Durango with its sibling, the Jeep Grand Cherokee (reviewed here), then yes, the Durango has significantly more cargo room thanks to a longer wheelbase that allows for that third row of seats. With all seats up, cargo space out back is a decent 487L, or about 20% more than a small crossover can hold. Folding the third row down bumps up that cargo room up to 1,351L, and popping the second row captain’s chairs and center console flat brings this to 2,393L. This really came in handy while moving a bunch of larger furniture.
Of the three engine options available in the Durango platform, the GT trim is limited to the 3.6L V6 Pentastar engine that is found throughout most of the Fiat-Chrysler product lines, and it performs well in this chassis. Rated for 295 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque, there is plenty of power to get up and go, or haul the maximum rated 2,812kg (6,200lbs). Hopping up to other trim levels will unlock higher tow ratings and the brawny HEMI V8s (reviewed here) that make the Durango roar.
Connecting the Pentastar to the standard all-wheel-drive system is an eight-speed automatic transmission that clicks through the gears with ease, making the 2,262kg (4,987lb) Durango pretty easy to drive in the city. On V6 models, the AWD system does not get the selectable low-range gear that comes with the HEMI V8, but most people buying the Durango GT won’t care, or dare to go anywhere that would need it.
Not surprisingly, the 3.6L V6 engine significantly outperforms the Hemi engines in the fuel economy arena, coming in with a rating of 12.7L/100km in the city, 9.6L/100km on the highway and a combined rating of 11.3L/100km, which is about middle of the pack in this size class. The fuel tank will hold 93L of regular fuel, which can net just over 900km of highway driving in one go.
Our Durango GT test vehicle was painted in Granite Crystal Metallic ($245) and was equipped with the Technology Group (lane departure/forward collision tech, brake assist, adaptive cruise and rain sensing wipers – $950), Blind-Spot/Rear Cross-Path Detection ($500), Blacktop Package (20” high gloss black wheels, gloss black badging and exterior mirrors – $1,995), a Trailer Tow Group (Class IV hitch, cooling package, full size spare tire and load-levelling suspension – $825).
Other features include the Safety/Security & Convenience Group (HID headlights, cargo cover, powered tilt steering column and auto high-beams – $1,000), Second row Captains chairs ($600) and a second row center console ($250), the muscular Performance Hood ($995) and the 8.4” Uconnect System with Navigation ($995). This all comes together into an as-tested price of $58,500.
Speaking of this size class, that’s a funny thing to nail down. Cross-shopping the Durango should consist of other 3-row SUVs like the Toyota Highlander (reviewed here), the Chevrolet Traverse and its sibling the GMC Acadia, as well as the Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot. While similar in size to some of those, they are all in the 4,000-5,000lb. range for towing capacity, while the Durango has capabilities in the 6200-8,700lb range. These numbers make a huge difference to people that need to haul and are otherwise looking at full sized SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe (reviewed here) and the Ford Expedition.
The 2019 Dodge Durango GT AWD is a unique value proposition in today’s SUV-filled market. It offers genuinely smooth driving characteristics, seating for six or seven people and massive towing capabilities compared to the competition. As with all of the Dodge products, extra points go to the Durango for the fantastic 8.4” Uconnect screen that stomps the competition. While not loaded up with the premium features that higher trim levels get, the GT is still fantastic to drive around town or on the highway, has room for the whole family and is pretty versatile, while coming in at a price that is easy to stomach for what you’re getting.