2011 Dodge Durango AWD CrewLux

Matt Tierney

Early reports of the Durango's revival for 2011 primarily focused on the fact that the new model shares its WK2 architecture and a number of components with the also-new-for-2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. So, then, why opt for the Dodge instead of Jeep's latest and greatest? I can think of three reasons.

Space. The Durango's wheelbase is five inches longer than that of the Grand Cherokee, and the Dodge is nearly ten inches longer than its Jeep sibling. Why? To make room for third row of seating, which is likely a key shopping point for larger families or those regularly assigned to carpool duty. Of course, it also means more cargo space -- fold that third-row bench, and the Durango offers an extra 12.6 cubic feet of storage.

Grace. Styling is subjective, but the Durango looks far more carlike than the Grand Cherokee. Designers not only gave the Dodge a lowered stance and extended side sills, but also a front clip that incorporates cues from the 2011 Charger. Technically, the Grand Cherokee SRT8 may be the true muscle SUV, but the Durango is the one that actually looks the part.

Pace. No, I don't suspect a Durango is any quicker through the quarter mile than a Grand Cherokee. It is, however, a little more fun to drive quickly than its Jeep sibling. The lower center of gravity, coupled with different suspension tuning, allows the big, 4900-pound Dodge to drive in a very car-like fashion. R/T models promise an even sportier feel, but the standard suspension tuning, as found on this CrewMax, is surprisingly good, and doesn't crash over broken tarmac.

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor

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