Riding high on a flurry of new product…finally, Dodge has introduced the new-for-2011 Durango sport utility.
Based on the platform that the new Jeep Grand Cherokee rides on, the new Durango promises a more car-like driving experience with high-end accoutrements to please discerning buyers.
“Dodge Durango appeals to customers who need the versatility of a crossover and capability of an SUV, but want the refinement and characteristics of a premium performance vehicle,” said Ralph Gilles, President and CEO, Dodge Brand and Senior Vice President, Design — Chrysler Group LLC. “Durango owners love to drive and relish the feelings it evokes, but also want a vehicle that stands out from the crowd and expresses their individuality.”
One look at the 2011 Durango will tell you that it’s all-new. It sports the Dodge Crosshair grill found on all new Dodges and a more rounded, stylized front end than the last model.
The front end flows into the body more organically, more naturally, with more organic, flowing bodywork from front to rear. Gone are the hard edges and sharp creases of the last generation.
The rear end looks a lot like the new Grand Cherokee, with tail lights that flow into a center chrome section,
A new suspension featuring a short/long arm front and multilink rear, along with aggressive shock and spring rates, should deliver an on-road driving experience rivaling the best SUVs out there.
The V6 features dual overhead cams (with variable valve timing), aluminum construction and flex fuel ability. According to Dodge, you should be able to travel over 500 highway miles on one tank of gas! Power and torque figures are 290 and 260, respectively, with mileage figures at 16 miles per gallon city (in both rear- and all-wheel-drive) and 23 highway with RWD and 22 highway with AWD.
The HEMI V8 comes with 360 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque. It features a fuel saver mode that deactivates some cylinders while at cruising speed. Mileage figures for the HEMI are 14/20 for rear-wheel drive and 13/20 for all-wheel-drive. Of course, if you tow anything you can expect lower mileage figures, especially considering you can tow up to 7400 pounds!!
To put the power to the pavement, as it were, there are two five-speed automatic transmissions and two available full-time all-wheel-drive systems, one for V6s and one for V8s. As an added bonus, V8 Durangos with AWD get a low-range transfer case for light off-road fun.
We like the two-tone scheme and updated look. It’s about time Chrysler put some cash into how their interiors look, feel and function.
Taking a cue from the RAM line of trucks, pricing on the Durango has six different starting points: (from lowest to highest) Express, Heat, Crew, R/T, CrewLux and Citadel.
Following along, you can get a RWD Express for $29,195, add $2000 for AWD, all the way up to $43,795 for a AWD Citadel, not including any goodies like $295 for that really awesome red or $1895 for a HEMI!
In all, we dig the new Durango’s looks and like how it has matured. Only time will tell if everyone else agrees, by voting with their checkbook.
Today’s Retro Review features the car that began Buick’s resurgence:
2005 Buick LaCrosse
Not So Long Ago
In A Buick in The Driveway…
by James E. Bryson
In the last ten years or so, change has been constantly reforming the world around us. In the auto industry, change has been the judge, jury and executioner in all sorts of ways, including the demise of Plymouth and one of the oldest brands, Oldsmobile.
And, according to more than a few industry pundits and analysts, either Buick or Pontiac will get the ax in the next five years. Too bad for us because we got a chance to drive Buick’s all-new LaCrosse, the car replacing the Century and Regal.
Debuting this year, the LaCrosse is an attractive car with great potential but never capitalizes on getting the younger crowd’s attention…even with the help of Tiger and his resurging golf game.
We drove the “performance-oriented” CXS and weren’t totally put off by the ride and handling. But the powerful, new-for-05 3.6-liter VVT V6 made a lasting impression on us. With 240 horsepower and 225 lb.-ft. of torque, we found getting onto the freeway a breeze and getting a head start on the surrounding traffic not so bad, if not stellar…nothing a little more low-end torque couldn’t clear up.
We were able to get around 22.5 miles per gallon out of the LaCrosse, with quite a bit of spirited driving and a lot of freeway driving. At first we thought this was quite poor for a sedan like this, but after looking at the EPA estimates of 19 city and 27 highway, we decided the mileage wasn’t too bad…but not on par with other cars, Buick especially, where we got much better mileage with an older vehicle with a bigger engine (’87 Buick LeSabre with a Series I 3.8-liter V6 to be exact. Which we drove to the ground but it still delivered 28 mpg.).
Trying to get through a hilly countryside is another matter. With front-wheel-drive making understeer the soup du jour, driving fast around any corner was more chore than playtime but we had some fun shooting ourselves out of long sweepers with the available horsepower the new engine had on tap.
At a certain point, of which we’re not sure when this actually happened, we started thinking to ourselves: WWTD? (What Would Tiger Do?) And the definitive answer we came up with was: Who knows?! Maybe turn up the Barry Manilow blaring out of the XM station, or size up the road like it’s a monster par five on the Masters. In any case, we just couldn’t fathom the connection between Buick and Tiger…it’s sort of a May-December thing that is beyond words at this point. But we digress…
Inside, the LaCrosse is more European or Japanese, with an uncluttered dash and center stack with attractive wood-grain trim throughout. There was also a really nice two-tone theme with the rest of the cabin: dark gray on top of a lighter gray that looked awesome…especially at the Buick’s price point.
The greatest single feature of the LaCrosse, and other GM vehicles with this feature is the remote starter. It was totally functional, without and bad habits, and even turned on the heat or air, depending on the cabin temperature. It is a perfect execution on a useful feature.
One quirk with the switchgear is the headlight switch. For a few years now, GM has made automatic lighting available on most models, seemingly above $20,000. So why does GM insist on putting light switches on these vehicles? Is it for those times when it’s dark enough to want to use the lights but not dark enough for the system to switch the lights on fully? (Daytime running lights have been a standard issue on all GM vehicles for about 10 years now.) It’s like the old adage about 7-Eleven: Why are there locks on a store that is open 24/7, 365?
The seats, of course, were top notch. That is one area we have come to expect from Buick: great seats to sit in. we found them to be comfy and well worth the price of admission, if not totally in synch with the “sporting” character of the CXS.
We were able to add a little more sport into the LaCrosse by adding 5 p.s.i. to all four tires. The ride was a little floaty before and the tires looked like they might go flat any second. After the addition, the ride firmed up a bit and our travels became more enjoyable, and we might have even boosted fuel economy by a tad. (We wouldn’t recommend doing this unless you’re certain that the additional pressure wouldn’t go over the maximum pressure rating on the tires.)
Outside, the styling of the LaCrosse fits somewhere between some sort of new Lexus, a bigger, more rounded Kia Optima and a resurrected Riviera…with four doors.
We actually like how the LaCrosse looks. It’s a definite evolution from the Regal/Century twins that really brings Buick’s mid-size sedan into this century.
The bottom line on the LaCrosse is an as-tested price of $32,160. Our car was equipped with the Gold Convenience package that included a leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio and climate controls, a Homelink transmitter, heated outside mirrors, six-way power passenger seat, rear park assist, and rear reading lamps for $1,150; chrome-plated 17-inch wheels for $650; Stabilitrak, GMs stability control program, for $495; Head side airbags for $395; XM for $325; and the remote starter for $150.
With a base price of $28-large, the standard equipment list in no small thing. Couple that with the options of our test car and you have a great value in an American sedan. Too bad the foreign competition is about five years ahead of the General in terms of styling and handling. Still, we think the golf crowd and Americans bent on getting an American-made vehicle will love the LaCrosse and we can’t blame them for wanting a solid car with a great quality rep and good looks.
Thanks for reading!