Review: 2005 Dodge Durango

The Manufacturer

Those drawn to the Durango likely know what they're getting themselves into: SUVs of this sort are heavy, bulky, and, even in their most basic form, thirsty. Of all Durangos, the Hemi-powered version is the true charmer, with a bounding, fun-to-drive demeanor that almost makes you forget how often you're stopping at the pump. Proof that power has its price, a Hemi-powered, 4WD Durango will return a mere 13 mpg around town and 18 mpg on the highway--and only with a judicious right foot. Buyers without serious trailering requirements or off-road ambitions, especially those for whom the Durango's array of clever interior features and user-friendliness hold the greatest attraction, may be better served by Dodge's even-more-spacious (and far more easygoing) Caravan or Grand Caravan minivan, or by the upscale Chrysler Town & Country minivan. In choosing the right Durango configuration for you, look to the IntelliChoice Ownership Cost Value Ratings, as there are variances among trims and powertrains.

Merging impressive hauling and towing numbers with a high degree of user-friendliness, the Dodge Durango hits the sweet spot between mid- and full-size SUVs.

What's Hot

  • Optional 335-horsepower Hemi V-8
  • Smart, minivan-inspired creature comforts
  • Big-rig look radiates character and attitude

    What's Not

  • Overworked base V-6 is best avoided
  • Fuel economy, particularly with the Hemi V-8
  • Big-rig look is a bit antisocial for some

    Still fresh from its debut for model year 2004, the Durango rolls on with no substantial alterations. A new-for-2005 Adventurer model includes a host of outdoorsy fitments, unique aluminum wheels, a rubber cargo liner, tubular side steps, and a standard Thule rack with a choice of six connection systems.

    Depending on trim level, Durango buyers can opt for such creature comforts as two-tone leather seating surfaces, power-adjustable pedals, Sirius satellite radio, and the innovative UConnect hands-free communication system, which features wireless integration with Bluetooth-enabled cell phones. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system with a seven-inch fold-down display is also available, and one particularly worthwhile option on the Limited model is the excellent DVD-based GPS navigation system, which uses a tiny but easy-to-read, full-color display on the radio faceplate. Traction control and three-row side-curtain airbags are available on all Durangos, as are light- and heavy-duty tow packages and a skidplate package for off-roade

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