There are certain traits that are typically associated with SUVs. Rugged, spacious, and well-equipped are a few that immediately come to mind. They should because many SUVs are often filled with families and their gear. If winter vacation means renting a cabin up in Colorado, the rig needs to be able to get over unpaved roads. If the kids in the second row don’t have enough space or something to watch during a cross-country drive, parents are sure to hear loud complaints about their troubles.
Those same adjectives can be applied to the Dodge Durango lineup, which offers all-wheel drive, up to three rows of seating, and several infotainment, convenience, and safety features. The 2017 Durango R/T that Dodge loaned us brought another word to mind: attitude. Our Hemi-V8-powered test vehicle had it – 5.7 liters of it. We didn’t mind. In fact, we enjoyed it.
2017 Dodge Durango R/T Exterior
Like most attitudes, the Durango R/T’s started at its mouth. The optional Brass Monkey Appearance Package added a gloss black crosshairs grille which, along with the Bruiser Grey Clear-Coat paint, made the Durango R/T look like a vehicle that was not to be messed with. The package’s 20-inch wheels made us think of brass knuckles. Att. I. Tude. The dual exhaust tips in the back completed the hardcore image. Once we fired up the Hemi, those pipes sounded even cooler than they looked. We tried to look cool, too, but we were smiling too much to convince any of the drivers around us that we were.
2017 Dodge Durango R/T Interior
Just like an outlaw biker, the cabin of our Durango R/T test vehicle wore black leather. The dark hides covering the seats were tattooed with red embroidered R/T logos and accent stitching. Shiny metallic trim around the air vents, front cup holders, and center screen brought the gleaming chrome exhaust pipes of beefy motorcycles to mind.
Standard equipment included heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, an 8.4-inch touchscreen display with navigation and the user-friendly Uconnect infotainment system, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a Beats premium audio setup. Hooking a phone up to the Durango through Bluetooth was a cinch; connecting it to the Durango’s Wi-Fi was a hassle-free process.
Our review rig was fitted with a variety of options. The Technology Group added adaptive cruise control and several safety features. Instead of a bench seat, the second row had reclining captain chairs which could fold and tumble forward to make getting in the third row quick and easy. The backs of the front head rests were equipped with flat screens that displayed whatever we chose to play on the Blu-ray/DVD entertainment system (and listen to through the wireless headphones).
Legroom and headroom in the middle row was abundant, but things were a little tighter in the back. Unless the second-row captain chairs were bolt upright, legroom in the rear came up a little short for all 5’10” of yours truly. I also couldn’t sit up completely straight or lean my head back in the third row because it would scrape the border of the head liner. Shorter people and especially kids would be perfectly comfortable back there, though.
When it comes to carrying things instead of people, the Durango R/T provides 17.2 cubic feet of space behind the third row. It offers 47.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity when the third row is folded down and 84.5 cubic feet when the back two rows of seats are out of the way.
2017 Dodge Durango R/T Performance
The Durango R/T had the bite to back up its bark. Its 5.7-liter Hemi V8 generated 360 horsepower and 390 lbft of torque. The deeper we buried the right pedal, the more alive the vehicle around it became. We pushed the gas and the Durango pulled – hard. The throaty roar coming out of the rear pipes was music we never got tired of hearing, but became even louder and transformed into a sonic addiction when we pressed the Sport Mode button. That also caused the throttle response to sharpen. Shifts from the eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic were quick no matter which mode we were in.
One of our favorite things to do in the Durango R/T was engage sport mode, put the gearbox into first gear using one of the perfectly sized paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, and drop the hammer. The Durango R/T launched forward. With every rapid upshift, the exhaust fired out a loud and raspy BRAP!
The EPA states the Durango R/T can cover 14 city, 22 highway, and 17 combined miles with every gallon of gas.** In case it wasn’t obvious by now, we didn’t get that kind of fuel economy. Flooring it in sport mode was just too hard to resist. The fun we had was totally worth 15 mpg.
If we had wanted to tow with the Durango R/T, we would’ve been able to pull 7,400 pounds behind it. Dodge gave our particular Durango the optional Trailer Tow Group IV, which included a Class IV receiver hitch and a wiring harness. We could’ve used the Durango to take a boat out to Lake Austin, but we chose to stay out of the sun and light up the rear tires instead.
2017 Dodge Durango R/T Safety
In addition to front/driver knee/side-curtain/front seat-mounted side airbags, a backup camera, and a rear parking assistance system with stopping capability, our Durango R/T had the optional Technology Group. That protected us with Advanced Brake Assist, Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection, Full Speed Forward Collision Warning Plus, and Lane Departure Warning Plus.
2017 Dodge Durango R/T Overall
Prices for the 2017 Dodge Durango R/T start at $42,095.* The rear-wheel-drive specimen we spent a week driving had an as-tested price of $51,560. If you want a family hauler with attitude and want to get it at an AutoNation Dodge dealership, you have an attitude, too. The right one.
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2017 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.