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2011 Dodge Durango Citadel Review & Test Drive

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

‘JOINING THE FULL SIZE CROWD’ 

The 2011 Dodge Durango sport utility vehicle is all new this year and this three-row sport utility joins the full-size segment with high levels of style, performance, comfort, luxury, auto high-technology and safety.

The all-new Durango is spacious enough to carry up to seven people and performance-tuned to thrill anyone who truly loves to drive.  Dodge designers and engineers have done their homework and have come up with a winner that hits on every cylinder.

From its sleek exterior design to its modern, spacious interior, and intelligent, fuel-efficient and powerful powertrain options, the 2011 Dodge Durango is all-new from the inside out, and the changes are more than skin deep.

The Durango’s unibody structure is more than 25% stiffer than before and the end result is a vehicle with crossover versatility, SUV capability and performance in a different league than its competitors.

Dodge Durango will appeal to customers who need the versatility of a crossover and capability of a SUV, but want the refinement and characteristics of a premium performance sedan.  Most Durango customers lead busy lives and they need a spacious and flexible vehicle that can haul three rows of passengers and their gear, but powerful and agile enough to keep it fun to drive. Durango is the perfect blend of functional versatility and luxury at an outstanding value. Durango is the only vehicle in the segment that will meet their needs.  I tested the ‘top-of-the-line’ Citadel model equipped with the new 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 engine and I was very much impressed with the new styling, power, performance, cargo carrying versatility, comfort, luxury touches and safety systems.

The new Durango 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.  Benchmarked against premium performance SUV’s in the market, Durango delivers modernized refinement with electronics, suspension and structural characteristics that are usually found on much higher priced SUVs.

The unibody structure is built with a selection of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steels that improve driving dynamics by integrating the suspension with the body-reducing flex when compared with the previous body-on-frame design.  In fact 52% of the new Durango’s structure is made from these advanced steels.  More than 5,500 welds and more than 4,100mm of arc welding contribute to torsional stiffness levels greater than the Mercedes-Benz GL SUV.

The all-new short/long arm front suspension and isolated multi-link rear suspension features isolated front and rear cradles for improved on-road handling and less noise, vibration and harshness for added comfort during the ride.

The Durango also delivers on the pavement with aggressive shock and coil spring rates and large sway bars to handle body roll in hard cornering maneuvers.  Available electro-hydraulic performance steering, along with standard electronic stability control also contribute to maintain tire grip and vehicle stability.

A robust structure, impressive braking and unexpected stability contribute to the Durango’s best-in-class trailer tow capability-on models with the Pentastar 3.6 liter V6 the Durango can tow up to 6,200lbs.-when coupled with the 5.7 liter Hemi V8 the Durango can tow up to 7,400lbs.

A drag coefficient of 0.35 enables an aerodynamic improvement of more than 14% compared to last year’s model and contributes to a quiet interior and improved fuel efficiency.

Inside the comfortable and luxurious cabin are up to 28 different seating configurations, with as much as 85cu.ft. of cargo and storage areas, leaving plenty of legroom for passengers and gear.  With second-and-third-row seats folded flat, the Durango can fit

a six-foot couch with room for a coffee table, or for do-it-yourselfers, enough 10ft. 2X4s to build a tree house.  Creating versatile and usable cargo space is important to the segment.

Visibility over the third row was critical.  Engineering and design worked together to develop a simple solution.  With the third row is empty, a single motion actuator can drop the headrests with the push of a button to increase rearview visibility.

Every path that leads to the interior is sealed in one or more ways and joints are made as tight as possible by using sealer between panels, which expands during the paint process.  Laminated glass comes standard, and Durango features a double wall separating the engine compartment and the vehicle cabin to limit the amount of under hood engine noise.  You can carry on a conversation up front or with all three rows with little outside interference.  It is what you would expect in a luxury SUV.

The all-new Durango is available with two powertrains that provide rear-wheel-drive performance and fuel efficiency.  Engines are the standard, all-new 3.6 liter, flex-fuel Pentastar V6 and 5.7 liter Hemi V8.  Both engines feature variable valve timing.

I tested the Durango Citadel with the new 3.6 liter V6 that is all-aluminum and features a DOHC with 24-valves and is very quiet and smooth running no matter how much pressure you put down on the throttle.  The engine develops 290hp at 6,400rpm and 260lb.ft. of torque at 4,800rpm and achieves an excellent 16mpg/city and 23mpg/highway with rear-wheel drive, as mine did, enabling the vehicle to travel more than 500 miles on a tank of gas.

The new 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 is teamed up with Chrysler’s smooth and quiet shifting W5A580 five-speed adaptive electronically controlled automatic transmission that features ‘AutoStick’ enabling you to choose which gear you want to be in during certain speeds or situations, or when you want to drive on more challenging roads.  You can hold the gears all the way up redline.

The bold new looks are inline with the new Dodge Charger’s design with a new, smaller, chromed center grille with Dodge’s signature cross-hair center.  New HID headlight clusters are fitted to the sides of the grille.  Just below the bumper is another centered air intake with round foglamps fitted to the ends to help light up the road during fog or raining weather.  A tasteful chrome strip is placed at the bottom of the lower air intake to match the chrome surround of the grille.  Just below that is a full-length black strip that enhances front downforce.  The new hood is raised slightly and features a center scallop to help better manage airflow up and over the steeply raked windshield A-pillars, over the flat roof and low profile aluminum roof rails, until it meets the rear spoiler that is fitted to the end of the roof to help with rear downforce and stability.  The side profile features a powerful shape, accented by muscular fender arches, stuffed with 20X8in. all-season tires and wrapped around big, chromed, cast aluminum 5-spoke wheels, and curves that flow back in through the doors, resembling the iconic shape of a ‘coke-bottle’.

The greenhouse of the car blends seamlessly into the body, completing the ‘double-diamond’ shape.  You’ll also notice new, aerodynamic styled sideview mirror housings and chrome pull-out handles.  Another tasteful chrome strip runs the length of the two doors adding another luxury touch to the exterior.  Black full-perimeter side extensions below give the car a lower center of gravity increasing its menacing stance and overall road holding stability.  The look at the rear shows new wraparound LED lamp clusters, a center chrome strip with the Dodge brand embossed a step-up bumper and a single, round exhaust outlet.  The bottom of the black bumper features a diffuser to better manage airflow emanating from underneath the vehicle.  The new look is bold, brash and luxurious, in that order.

The Durango’s all-new interior is all functional and luxurious.  It was a real surprise when I got behind the new smaller, leather-wrapped/heated/power tilt/telescoping steering wheel that felt perfect in my hands.  Everywhere you touch, from the steering wheel all the way back to the soft third row armrest, Durango passengers will feel materials that are refined with the most attention to detail, like the new chrome bezels around all of the front air-vents, center stack and shift gate.  The all-new instrument panel features a beautifully crafted monotone or two-tone appearance with dark upper and lighter lower color and premium soft-touch materials for all price classes.  Panel construction also features tighter gaps and almost 50% few intersections of parts for higher fit and finish levels.

The Citadel’s front bucket seats are so comfortable and supportive and fully power-adjustable with power lumbar and each features heating and cooling.

The instrument cluster is easy to see and understand with a large speedometer and tachometer with small gauges for fuel and engine coolant temperature.  In the center is a trip computer with readouts of outside temperature, Eco drive indicator, compass heading, etc.  Wood trim pieces on the instrument panel and doors give the interior another luxury touch.  There is plenty of storage under the ergonomic center stack.  The center console features dual cupholders and a dual-tiered storage bin with padded armrest for more comfortable driving.  All buttons, switches and dials are within easy reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime driving.  Second-row outboard seats are also heated and have movable backs for the perfect fit for those passengers.  An armrest with dual cupholders pulls-down for more comfort.  The bench seat is split 60-40 for the current drive-off situation.

The all-new Durango drives like a large luxury sport sedan thanks to the all-new front and rear independent suspensions.  Up front is a S/L/A (short/long arm) independent setup with gas-charged twin-tube coil over shocks, upper & lower control arms, independent upper links (tension & camber), lower control A arms, stabilizer bar and an isolated suspension cradle.  The rear features a multi-link setup with coil springs, aluminum lower control arms, independent upper links (tension & camber), a separate toe link, gas-charged twin-tube shocks, an anti-roll bar and an isolated suspension cradle.  This fully independent suspension system is similar to the one found underpinning the all-new Dodge Charger.

Steering the new Durango is ‘spot-on’ with the precision and reliability of the proven power assisted hydraulic rack & pinion system.  Reaction to my steering inputs was quick and precise and on-center feel is perfect.

Slowing the big Durango Citadel down from speed are powerful 4-wheel steel disc brakes.  Up front are 13in. vented discs clamped with big dual-piston calipers while the rear features 13in. solid discs clamped with large, single-piston calipers.  To enhance braking control and power when braking on slick or wet pavement are standard ABS, electronic stability control and traction control systems that work in unison to give you more control over your braking direction.

Standard exterior and interior features not mentioned above in my loaded Durango Citadel model includes dual-zone climate control with rear A/C control, leather-wrapped door armrests, Nappa leather seats, 3-12-volt power outlets, 115-volt auxiliary power outlet, premium CD/DVD/MP3/HDD/AM/FM/NAV touchscreen 506 watt audio system with 9-speakers/subwoofer, Garmin navigation system, rain-sensing, variable-speed wipers/washer, rear wiper/washer, ParkView rear back-up camera, ParkSense rear park assist system, keyless Enter-N-GO with push buttons start/stop, blind spot and rear cross path detection, adaptive speed control/cruise control with forward collision warning, hill start assist, trailer sway damping, security alarm, remote start, power windows with front express up/down, power door locks, aluminum door guards, dual map lamps, dual lighted vanity mirrors, grab handles at each passenger door, self-dimming rearview mirror, power remote/heated/self-dimming sideview mirrors, power liftgate, power sunroof, two-person driver’s-side memory setting, deep tint sunscreen glass, second and third-row reading lamps, thick cut-pile carpeting and floor mats.

The all-new Durango offers the latest high-tech features to keep driver’s eyes on the road and passengers connected.  Drivers can communicate, navigate and select entertainment options with the advanced voice-recognition controls.  Passengers can stay entertained with the latest available features including SIRIUS satellite radio, SIRIUS backseat TV and Uconnect web.

Standard safety features include front/rear crush zones, steel beams in each door, 3-point safety belts for all seats with front pretensioners/load limiters, front active headrests, front airbags, front side-mounted impact airbags, side curtain airbags that extends protection to all three rows, and the LATCH system for child seats.

Just like that Dodge has transformed the all-new 2011 Durango into a great looking, performance driven, comfortable, luxurious and flexible full-size sport utility that you will enjoy driving and using everyday.  It has it all and joins the luxury performance full-size sport utility segment.  The only thing it isn’t is the price.  The base price for this loaded Citadel SUV is only $41,795.00.

COPYRIGHT:2011:HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: Base Durango $29,195 As-Tested $42,100
  • Engine:  3.6 liter Pentastar V6 290 horsepower @ 6400 rpm / 260 ft-lbs. @ 4800 rpm
  • Transmission: 5 speed automatic
  • Wheelbase: 119.8in.
  • Total length: 199.8in.
  • Total width: 75.8in.
  • Total height: 70.9in.
  • Track: f/r-63.9/64.1in.
  • Ground clearance: 8.1in.
  • Approach angle: 16.3-degrees
  • Departure angle: 21.4-degrees
  • Fuel tank: 24.6 gallons
  • Headroom: f/m/r-39.9/39.8/37.8in.
  • Legroom: f/m/r-40.3/38.6/31.5in.
  • Cargo volume: 17.2-behind 3rd row/47.7-behind 2nd row/84.5cu.ft. behind front seats
  • Turning circle: 37.1ft.
  • Curb weight: 4,905lbs.

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