If the premise of a sporty-looking SUV that doesn’t drink crude oil by the barrelful sounds appealing, you may enjoy the latest product offering from the Chrysler Group. The 2011 Dodge Durango Heat, unveiled this morning at the Chicago Auto Show, promises just that.
From afar, you might mistake the Heat for the new Durango R/T, which was also rolled out at the Chicago venue. For the most part, the two are virtually identical — both receive a unique front fascia with fog lamps and an aggressive chin spoiler, unique side sills, body-colored grille surround, xenon HID headlamps, performance-tuned suspension calibration, and unique 20-inch satin-finish aluminum wheels.
The difference, however, is only noticable once you pop the hood. While the R/T is fitted with the 360-horsepower, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, the Heat falls two cylinders short. Instead, it’s fitted with Chrysler’s new 295-horsepower, 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6. Although the six-banger may not excite true power junkies, it will appease owners when it comes time to top off the 24.6-gallon tank. The EPA rates rear-wheel-drive Durango V-6 models at 16/23 mpg (city/highway), while all-wheel-drive models attain a 16/22 mpg rating. In contrast, V-8 models are rated at 14/20 mpg and 13/20 mpg, respectively.
Opting for the Heat will also save buyers in the showroom. Chrysler says pricing for the Heat — which slots in between the base and midlevel Crew trims — will start at $31,145 (including $850 in destination charges) for a two-wheel-drive model; adding all-wheel-drive bumps that figure to $33,145 The Durango R/T, on the other hand, is priced at $36,315, or $38,715 for an all-wheel-drive model.
Like the R/T, the 2011 Durango Heat is expected to roll into Dodge dealerships across North America later this spring.