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2011 Dodge Durango



Review by Sheryll Alexander

Costa Mesa-based NADAguides recently named the 2011 Dodge Durango as November Car of the Month. We agree. After our family road tested this family-friendly SUV for a week, we proclaimed the seven-seat Dodge Durango is definitely a smart new car buy for overall value.

First off, let’s get to the price. The 2011 Dodge Durgano has a base MSRP of $29,195. That sounds like a pretty good value, but our road test Durango Citadel RWD topped out at a whopping $45,645 (including $850 destination charge).

Although expensive, the fully-loaded Citadel model has no options and comes with loads of standard luxury features (see interior and infotainment sections below), excellent design, rather good fuel efficiency (18 mpg city, 23 mpg hwy!) and top safety marks.

Completely overhauled inside and out for 2011, the “new” Dodge Durango surprised us as an awesome family-minded SUV. We also loved showing up to restaurant valet stations and hotel porte cochères in our gorgeous Durango. Who knew American design could be so brash and yet so subtle at the same time?

Exterior: Outside, the 2011 Dodge Durango has a good balance of American beef and European style. Sure, the chromed-out grille, front bumper and bulging hood is super masculine, but it works. The sleek side lines and bold, yet minimalist booty hatch work well too.

Interior: Inside, the 2011 Dodge Durango is an oasis of calm, comfort and spacious luxury. The interior design is also nice balance of American and European tastes with good-looking materials and quality construction. The driver’s cockpit is exceptionally comfortable with plush seats, a feel-good steering wheel, a cool instrument panel, a minimalist dash and a handsome central console. Just a few of the luxury features that come standard on the Durango Citadel are heated front and second row seats, eight-way power driver seat with memory, eight-way passenger seat, third row 50/50-folding seats, dual zone and rear automatic temperature control, perforated and heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with infotainment controls, power tilt-and-telescoping steering column,

Infotainment: Chrysler wowed us with the Durango’s integrated infotainment system. In fact, the software system and graphics are very similar to GM’s infotainment systems, which we love for their simplicity, elegance and ergonomics. Called “Uconnect,” this system comes as standard equipment on the 2011 Dodge Durango Citadel and features a crisp 6.5-inch touch screen, CD, DVD, MP3, HDD, Sirius satellite radio, voice recognition Garmin navigation and Bluetooth wireless for phone capabilities.

Performance: The Durango Citadel’s 3.6-liter V6 with five-speed automatic transmission tows up to 6,200 lbs. and roars like a powerful V8. It drives like one too. Perhaps performance doesn’t feel as powerful up hills and mountains, but 2011 Durango V6 definitely has quick acceleration, spot-on braking, responsive steering, fun-to-drive handling and a tight suspension. (A V8 Hemi powertrain is also available and tows up to 7,200 lbs.)

Safety: The 2011 Dodge Durango was awarded a hard-to-get Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Plus, the Durango comes loaded with advanced safety features such as side air bags in all rows, electronic stability control (ESC), rear back-up camera, rear park assist system, keyless entry, blind spot and rear cross path detection, adaptive speed control with forward collision warning, hill start assist, trailer sway damping and remote start.

And remember, the new Dodge Durango is built in Michigan, so your Chrysler purchase is putting Americans to work. Do you really need a new Rover when a Dodge Durango will do the job and then some in a stylish American wrapper?

Okay, so you need one more reason to consider Durango over another Rover, right? How about “no cost maintenance plus” as well as a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty.

Sheryll Alexander is a lifestyles writer, automotive journalist and professional road test reviewer based in Costa Mesa, California. Follow her! @sheryllalexande

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