Long story short, my Freightliner toasted a transmission, and has been at the dealer. I’m losing a ton of money sitting, so I complained. My company decided to rent me a car. Not wanting to leave my beloved DSM sitting at a rental car company, I raised concern. My company is quite good, so Enterprise rental car picked me up. I expected a crappy Kia or something along those lines.

Except, they picked me up in a brand new Durango RT. Upon taking delivery, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. I had to drive eighty miles to pick up my rental truck, except it wasn’t ready tonight, and I pick it up tomorrow. So, I did exactly what anyone in my position would do, fueled it up on the company credit card and decided to start joy riding around Maumee Ohio since I’m stuck in a hotel.

Initial Impressions

The exterior isn’t bad actually, wearing black metallic paint and some shiny wheels, it’s actually fairly handsome. I’ll get some shots tomorrow in the daylight, but fit and finish is pretty good upon my initial quality inspection.

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The interior has already exceeded my expectations, the leather seats are heated, vented and quite comfortable. The steering wheel is of course leather and heated. The one knock I have right now is that the radio buttons are on the rear of the steering wheel behind the shift paddles, so when manually shifting it, you sometimes accidentally change stations. A minor annoyance for sure.

I love the uConnect system, and always have. In my personal opinion, it’s one of the best infotainment systems out there, it’s massively easy to use. The audio system has some balls behind it, it is equipped with BEATS audio and I enjoy jamming out some SXM Octane with it.

It took me a second to figure out how to disable the engine start stop feature, it was driving me absolutely insane in traffic. Once I figured out a simple button disabled it (found on the center stack) I felt quite stupid. This was the single biggest annoyance until I disabled it.

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Steering is adjustable through the infotainment system, you can select between “Normal” “Sport” and “Comfort” all of the settings make a noticeable difference. I found that “Sport” was ideal for the feel that I prefer. I’ll dive more into this later.

The cup holders are very large, and also cooled. I mention this because I think every vehicle should have this feature. My sugar free Red Bull stayed chilled the entire ride! Nice touch FCA!

Driving Impressions

The sport mode changes throttle mapping, ride quality and shift harshness, it’s very noticeable. In sport mode, I found some very immediate quirks. This vehicle is equipped with an eight speed automatic, and at 60 miles per hour, it won’t even get into eighth gear, it wants to hold seventh to maintain the power curve. With sport mode disabled it will hold eighth gear, this was worth noting to me.

Ride quality is very good in normal mode, it’s actually very comfortable and doesn’t crash around needlessly. However, in sport mode, it rides about half as harsh as my DSM on coilovers, this isn’t a complaint, rather something I’m bringing up. I prefer a firm ride, and I was very surprised about how firm it becomes. For a vehicle weighing 4995 pounds, body roll is very well managed and it feels pretty confident with high speed lane changes.

Steering is really good in sport mode, it’s not artificially heavy, and feedback is decent. This isn’t a sports car by any stretch, but it’s certainly better than my mother’s fully loaded Z71 Silverado.

Braking is also very good, driving in a large city, you’ll quickly discover that the Durango RT can cease motion very quickly, better than virtually any other large SUV I’ve driven.

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Not so good is rearward visibility, the rear view mirror is basically pointless. However, the side mirrors do a very good job of giving you the big picture, and I drive semi for a living, therefore rear visibility isn’t something I personally count on. However, it’s just terrible on this vehicle. The backup camera is exceptional, the lines change with steering input and even an idiot can parallel park this tank.

What surprised me the most so far is driving comfort. Road noise is highly isolated, there’s no real wind noise nor is there any notable road noise. At a stop light, the Durango is extremely nice and quiet, Dodge has really stepped up in this department!

Push the throttle down and you get a little bit of engine noise, you can tell the HEMI wants to carry a conversation, but mass market appeal has forced it to whisper, a shame really.

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My favorite thing so far is the eight speed automatic, I find it to be extremely good. The paddle shifters feel very good in your hands, although they’re not mounted to the steering column and they rotate while turning. Regardless, under acceleration the eight speed shifts very quickly, and will NOT shift to the next gear in manual mode. You can actually redline the engine, it won’t override you in any way.

In automatic mode, the transmission is very smooth and executes seamless up and downshifts. I feel like Dodge really needed to get this right, and in my opinion, they nailed it. The 5.7 feels very torquey with the eight speed, in the older automatic vehicles I always felt that the base HEMI lacked passing power, and that’s not the case anymore.

Daily Driving

I’ve got a heavy foot, yet I averaged 22.3 MPG in my driving, quite good for a seven passenger SUV with a V8. The BEATS audio is super nice to use, and I’ve been finding excuses to drive around aimlessly to get a feel for the Durango.

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Interior comfort is something I’ll mention again, it’s extremely good! There’s a ton of storage space, the rear cargo area is massive, the glove compartment is massive, there’s little storage cubbies virtually everywhere, there’s no reason you would ever run out of storage in this thing.

The smart key works very easily too, just run your finger over the door handle and it unlocks and even adjusts the seat to your position automatically. Obviously it’s equipped with a push button start switch, so there’s no reason to even remove the key from your pocket.

My favorite feature is the uConnect app. Honestly, it’s the shit. You can remotely locate the vehicle, which I already found handy. I parked in a large parking lot and forgot where I’d parked, no problem. I simply opened my app, remotely had the headlights flashing, and found it immediately. Also, I even remotely started the Durango all without even knowing where it was. That’s pretty cool!

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I’m going to make it clear, this is a rental. I’m not paid by Dodge to write this, and in fairness, I didn’t think I’d like this vehicle. However, in one day of driving, I’ve changed my mind.

Cool Factor

We are all car enthusiasts, that’s why we’re here. The Durango may not be a “cool” vehicle by any means, but it has some tools to aid it in this fight.

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For one, disable traction control, kick on sport mode, put your left foot on the brake and your right foot on the gas, it’ll stall up to about 4,000 RPM and it’ll launch hard enough to kick an iPhone 7 out of a vent mount. That’s pretty cool!

The tail lights and headlights look really cool, I’ve always been a sucker for the LED tails on these things, and the headlights are absolutely killer. The auto dimming brights are a really nice feature, and I’m going to miss it. Being able to fold in the mirrors through uConnect and being able to configure the auto dip mirrors with a few button clicks is also really nice.

Final Conclusions

More or less I’m super bored in a hotel, so just throwing this together without any real thought to be honest. I will say this though, I just learned that Dodge offers an SRT version of the Durango, and it runs 12.9 in the quarter mile, that’s very appealing. It’s comfortable to drive, reasonably fuel efficient, and offers a biblical amount of space. If you have kids, need a larger vehicle that can get off the pavement, or want something that feels substantial, don’t be quick to dismiss the Durango RT.

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I plan to drive the Durango SRT, I’ve refrained from buying a new vehicle for some time. After today, that may change.

Matthew is a bored truck driver that makes impulse decisions, and has the quirkiest taste in cars. If you think I’m an idiot, you wouldn’t be wrong. However, I’m as unbiased as they come, and you should definitely take my advice with a grain of salt. Thanks for reading!