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2012 Dodge Durango R/T AWD Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Dodge, Featured, SUV, Test Drives

‘RIDING THE CREST OF TODAY’S MODERN SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES’

Full-size sport utility vehicles continue selling well even though fuel prices are hovering in the $3.50+ range because of their size, people, cargo and towing capability; functionality, and safety plus today’s technological and infotainment wonders .  One of the best of the bunch is the all-new 2012 Dodge Durango R/T Hemi all-wheel drive model that is ‘head’s and shoulders’ better than any other of the Big Three SUVs.  That is because the Durango R/T has a dual personality-it has all the versatility of what you want in a sport utility plus it offers aggressive styling and high-performance driving dynamics not found on any other domestic full-size sport utility vehicle.

The styling is sleek and aggressive with a front fascia highlighted with a unique grille featuring a body color surround with black crosshairs and black texture.  The Xenon HID headlamp cluster is blacked-out for a more aggressive look.  Even more aggressive is the splitter and airdam down below with the ends showing round foglamps.  From the side you’ll see the flared fenders of the lowered chassis filled with body color moldings, a raked windshield, big, pull-out door handles, power-remote, heated/self-dimming sideview mirrors, a flat roof and full perimeter lower bodykit that enhances stability by lowering the center of gravity.  The wheelwells are stuffed with aggressive 8X20 inch, twin-prong, 5-spoke cast aluminum wheels wrapped with Continental Cross Contact 265/50R20 inch high-performance tires offering great traction.  At the rear are big, wraparound lamp clusters, a spoiler up top, a step bumper and down below are dual, 3 inch wide, polished stainless steel exhaust tips nicely cut into the lower rear bumper.  No other SUV comes close to the aggressive styling of the Durango R/T.  I even received comments from other motorists when parking-“I love that truck”, and Great looking ride”.

Powering this stunning SUV is a 5.7 liter Hemi V8 engine that pumps out 360 hp at 5,150 rpm and a robust 390 lb.ft. of torque at 4,250 rpm.  The 5.7 liter Hemi engine features VVT for a flat torque curve.  It is build using an iron block with aluminum heads that feature hemispherical combustion chambers and 8 deactiviating and 8 conventional hydraulic lifters to bump up fuel economy to 13mpg/city and 20mpg/highway.  Under light throttle four of the cylinders are deactivated but reactivate as soon as the throttle is pushed hard.  The system is seamless, you never know when it is happening.

Enhancing fuel economy even more is the standard six-speed 65RFE automatic transmission featuring Autostick sequential shifting when you want to take the revs up to redline and get into the high-performance aspect of the Durango R/T.

The full-time AWD system works with a two-speed electronically controlled transfer case and a twist of the large knob located in front of the center console switches to AWD and AWD Low for light off-road recreation and to ease maneuvers while towing, such as pulling a boat out of the water from a high degree launch or backing up with a trailer attached.  Torque to the front wheels is activated when slip is detected by the electronic wheel sensors.  You also get all of the power down in the rear with the standard limited slip differential.

The 2012 Dodge Durango R/T delivers excitement and refinement with world-class suspension and performance.  It’s a driver’s SUV that delivers impressive on-road performance and capability with the flexibility of a three-row SUV-amazing!

The sport-tuned fully independent suspension features a short/long arm setup in front and an isolated multi-link setup in the rear with front and rear cradles for improved on-road handling and comfort.  The R/T delivers on the pavement with aggressive rates for the twin-tube gas-charged shocks with coil over springs.  Upper and lower control arms and a thick sway bar to handle body roll in hard turning maneuvers finish off the front setup.  The rear also features twin-tube load-leveling gas-charged shocks, aluminum lower control arms, independent upper links, camber & tension plus separate toe link, and a thick sway bar to further enhance road holding ability in steep curves.

Further enhancing the handling prowess of the Durango AWD R/T is power-assisted rack & pinion steering featuring an electro-hydraulic performance gear to guide you safely when challenging curving roads and when driving at high speeds on the open road.  It gives back razor sharp response to your inputs with excellent feel for the road.  When looking for parking at slow speeds the steering is much more light to ease your way into a parking space.  Standard electronic stability control and traction control also contribute to maintaining tire grip and vehicle stability during severe maneuvers. I was truly impressed with how well this 5,331 lbs. unibody SUV handled at all times, more like a full-size premium luxury sport sedan.

Slowing down the all-new Durango AWD Hemi R/T down from speed are large, high-performance power-assisted steel disc brakes.  The front 13.8 inch discs are vented and clamped with dual-piston calipers, with 13 inch, also vented, discs clamped with large, single-piston calipers in the rear.  Standard ABS helps keep you in control of your direction during severe braking maneuvers.  Now that is great no-fade braking power.

The interior is spacious, well designed comfortable and innovative.  Three rows of seats hold up to seven people and the interior is functional, flexible and premium with all soft-touch materials with chrome fitted around the air vents, center stack, center console, stick shifter and interior door handles.  High quality faux wood trim is found on the doors, instrument panel and dashboard all adding up to a luxurious touch.  The 8-way powered driver seat and 4-way powered front passenger bucket seats are very comfortable and feature deep side bolstering to keep you snug during spirited driving times.  Durango features more than 30 storage areas, 28 seating configurations and a rear cargo area of nearly 85 cu.ft. that fits a six-ft. couch with room for a coffee table or a 10 ft. ladder with the front passenger seat folded flat.  Now try to find a full-size performance SUV that can do that!

Standard features in my AWD R/T Durango not mentioned above included heated front and second-row seats with air vents behind the center console and in the headliner, pull-down second-row armrest with dual cupholders, front dual cupholders, remote start, keyless Go, trailer sway damping, cruise-control, remote-opening fuel filler door, variable intermittent wipers/washers front and rear with front/rear defoggers, three-zone automatic climate control, trip computer, power windows with front express up/down, steering wheel mounted audio/Bluetooth hands free telephone controls, 430-watt AM-FM-CD-DVD-MP3-HDD Alpine sound system with 9-speakers, Uconnect voice command with navigation system, SIRIUS satellite radio, power tilt/telescope leather wrapped steering wheel, grab handles above all passenger doors, steering wheel/seats/outside mirrors memory for two drivers, driver-seat easy-exit system, map pockets behind the front seatbacks, second/third row lights, power sunroof, power liftgate, leather seating for all three-rows, dual map lamps, dual lighted vanity mirrors, thick cut-pile carpeting with front/second/third row floor mats and rear cargo mat.

Standard safety equipment includes front/rear crumple zones, steel beams in each door, 3-point safety belts for all passengers including front pretensioners/load limiters, front and side impact airbags, full side curtain airbags and the LATCH system for child seats.

The all-new 2012 Dodge Durango Hemi AWD R/T is a very unique SUV.  Any true driving enthusiast would be happy behind the wheel driving and taking care of business for himself, his partner and his children be it around town chores or weekend or longer vacations.

COPYRIGHT: 2012: HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: Base Durango R/T $35,795.00 /As-Tested Durango R/T AWD $41,580.00 including destination
  • Wheelbase: 119.8 in.
  • Total length: 199.8 in.
  • Total width: 75.8 in.
  • Total height: 70.9 in.
  • Track: f/r-63.9/64.1 in.
  • Approach angle: 16.3
  • Departure angle: 21.4
  • Fuel tank: 24.6 gallons
  • Headroom: f/m/r-39.9/39.8/37.8 in.
  • Legroom: f/m/r-40.3/38.6/31.5 in.
  • Cargo volume: behind 3rd. row-17.2/behind 2nd. row-47.7/behind front row-84.5 cu.ft.
  • Turning circle: 37.1 ft.
  • Curb weight: 5,331 lbs.
  • Towing: 7,400 lbs.
  • EPA mileage: 13mpg/city, 20mpg/highway

 

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