Outside, the styling of the new Durango also owes nothing to its predecessor, and is better off for it. Instead, the exterior carries a hint of the Charger with its leaning-forward nose and connected taillights. Thick pillars -- as common in today's cars as thick waists are on today's drivers -- hinder visibility somewhat, but this top-spec Citadel model has a back-up camera, a blind-spot warning system, and rear cross-path detection to help cope. (The latter two items are exclusive to the top two trim levels, while a backup camera is available on all Durangos.)
Six is enough
My test example was equipped with the V-6 engine and rear-wheel drive, the most economical powertrain. The EPA says to expect 16/23 mpg from that combo. On a dead-flat 80-mile highway cruise up I-75, taken at about 75 mph, low and behold, I got an indicated 23 mpg. With a similar return trip and lots of suburban slogging in between, my average over five days was 20 mpg -- not bad at all for such a big boy. It might have done even better if Chrysler offered an automatic transmission that had more than five forward speeds. As it is, the V-6, with 290 hp and 260 pound-feet of torque, has muscle enough to move the Durango's considerable heft, but it doesn't exactly sound inspiring doing so. The low rumble of Chrysler's Hemi would be a vast improvement, but it's probably not worth the considerable fuel economy penalty -- the V-8 quaffs regular at a rate of 14/20 mpg (RWD) or 13/20 mpg (4WD).
There were precious few curves or bumps on my path, so I won't pretend to pronounce on the Durango's ride and handling. I will say, however, that I was impressed with the steering, which is perfectly weighted and was happy to discover that maneuverability isn't too horrible for such a big machine.
A player in the big leagues
With its available V-8 and big-truck look, this modern-day family wagon has a bit more testosterone than most three-row crossovers. Looked at against a different competitive set, it makes a somewhat more reasonable alternative to truly obese old-school SUVs like the Ford Expedition, Nissan Armada, Toyota Sequoia, and Chevy Tahoe/Suburban, with only the Suburban and the Expedition L offering meaningful additional capability.
We didn't feel too sad when the old Durango went away, but as it turns out, this new Durango was worth resurrecting after all.