Among mid-size three-row crossovers, there’s only one muscle-ute: the 2021 Dodge Durango. While many of its rivals start with a four-cylinder and offer a V-6 as an option, the Durango starts with the V-6 and lets buyers upgrade to a burly Hemi V-8 engine. The family can all pile in thanks to the optional third row of seats, and those upfront get treated to comfortable chairs and an intuitive infotainment system. The Durango is perhaps the best choice in its class for towing tasks, especially when equipped with the V-8. Other SUVs may offer more panache, more high-tech driver-assistance features, or comfier rides, but when it comes to machismo, the Durango stands alone.
What’s New for 2021?
Dodge has freshened the Durango’s look for 2021 with new headlamps, an updated grille, a revised rear spoiler, and a tweaked front bumper, but changes are more noticeable inside. Changes to the dashboard create a more driver-oriented layout, with the infotainment display and lower controls angled slightly to the left. Speaking of infotainment, the Durango can now be had with a new optional 10.1-inch infotainment system running an updated version of the Uconnect interface; the larger display is also bundled with a wireless smartphone charging pad; the new system will be optional on the GT and standard on the Citadel and R/T. A new Tow N Go package is available on the top-spec R/T trim. It bumps maximum towing capacity to 8700 pounds and adds a dedicated towing mode as well as unique 20-inch wheels and flared fenders because, why not?
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Durango’s optional 360-hp V-8 provides a significant boost in towing capacity (up to 8700 pounds), while the 295-hp V-6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission are a more efficient pairing. The Durango’s fuel economy doesn’t beat that of its four-cylinder rivals, of course, but the trade-off for the more entertaining V-8 and its burly towing capacity might be worth it for some buyers. We tested both the V-6 and V-8 engines with the standard eight-speed automatic and optional all-wheel drive. The Durango with the V-6 managed a 7.4-second zero-to-60-mph run; the V-8 did it in 6.2 seconds. The Dodge’s suspension walks the fine line between sport and comfort, but the steering feel and braking performance remind you that you’re driving an SUV. Although it’s not overtly sporty, the Durango’s rear-wheel-drive platform lends an athletic feel to the Durango, and its muscle-car persona shines through in everyday use. It still manages to deliver a comfortable ride, making it a family-friendly SUV that’s both fun to drive and easy to live with.