First Look: 2011 Dodge Durango

Customers have the option between Chrysler's 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and the larger 5.7-liter V-8 to power their Durango. (Interestingly, Dodge press materials continue to use the Hemi name to describe its V-8, while it recently said it would discontinue the use due to the conception of poor fuel economy.) While Dodge is still mum on output, we suspect similar power figures to the Grand Cherokee: 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque from the V-6, and 360 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque from the V-8. While the V-6 is rumored to be the fuel economy champ, the larger Hemi features software capable of shutting down half the cylinders during light-load applications, allowing for less consumption. The Durango's V-6 will be able to tow 6200 pounds, where the more powerful V-8 can handle 7400 pounds. Rear-wheel drive comes as standard equipment, and the sole transmission choice is a five-speed automatic; all-wheel drive is optional with either engine. Unsurprisingly, there's no mention of a hybrid version, as Dodge's last attempt at a Durango hybrid wasn't a huge success.

Similar to the Grand Cherokee, the Durango will be loaded with the latest safety equipment and technology. Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning are all optional safety equipment. Active head restraints and side curtain airbags for all three rows come as standard equipment. The vehicle pictured is in Citadel trim, which is rumored to sit atop the base Express and midlevel Crew trim levels.

Pricing has yet to be announced, but we expect a two-wheel-drive Express to retail just south of $29,000, including destination. A top-of-the-line, all-wheel-drive Citadel, similar to the one shown here, will likely go for around $44,000. By comparison, a base-level, two-wheel drive Grand Cherokee Laredo starts at $30,995, while the top-end all-wheel Overland retails for $42,690.

The all-new Durango is set to make its first public appearance Labor Day weekend at the Virginia Beach half-marathon as the pace vehicle, accompanied by Dodge CEO Ralph Gilles. Dodge says we can expect to see the new Durango in dealer showrooms sometime in the last quarter of the year, sometime around Thanksgiving.

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Interesting that Dodge moved the Durango to a unibody platform but retained rear-wheel drive, towing capacity, and a V8, while Ford turned the Explorer into a car with a high ground clearance, weak towing capacity, and no V8. The Durango also looks like a real SUV (and much better than either of its previous versions). Looks like Ford has made a huge mistake.
Very, very good looking vehicle. If it lives up to its potential, Dodge will have a winner on its hands and hopefully so. I eagerly await an opportunity to test drive both v6 and v8.

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