I can't remember the last time I drove a Durango, which is understandable since it just returned from a lengthy hiatus. Television commercials explain the Durango's absence by saying that it's been getting its handling honed at the Nuerburgring, but nothing about the driving experience made me entertain any fantasies that I was on the famed German road course. That doesn't mean it handles badly, but in the end, this is a big, three-row crossover that is more about utility than driving excitement.
To test that utility, I used the Durango as an airport shuttle when I picked up my mother and her husband upon their return from a two-week Italian vacation. The back seat of the Durango was equally accommodating for both my five-foot-tall mother and her six-foot-plus husband, and rear-seat climate controls were a boon for their comfort on what turned out to be an unseasonably cold early spring evening. There's plenty of room in the back for storing luggage, but in the dark of the parking garage, we couldn't easily figure out how to lower the third-row seatbacks.
The interior isn't overly luxurious but seems well thought out ergonomically. The soft-touch plastic on the dash is pretty nice, although the door panels are covered with a slightly downmarket-feeling hard plastic. The center console is serviceable, but not much more. The climate controls are simple to use and, although I would have liked to see the modern uConnect media center, the older media system installed in this Durango is at least easy to use.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor