The Dodge Durango has added sharp new color options, a Sport driving mode and connectivity upgrades for 2016.
Buyers can get the 2016 Durango in a new blazing Red Pearl paint and with seats covered in red fabric or Radar Red Nappa leather. The splashy appearance is not available in mainstream SUVs such as the Toyota Highlander, where the interior colors are limited to gray or black and the exterior paint is more burgundy than red.
New wheels and wheel finishes and a Brass Monkey Appearance Package accentuate the 2016 Durango's eye-catching look, while a new Sport driving mode lets drivers adjust acceleration, steering response and transmission shifting for a sportier driving experience.
A new, Do Not Disturb feature sends all phone calls to voicemail and suppresses texts. By dragging and dropping icons, drivers also can customize a list of their most-used touchscreen commands on the newly enlarged display screen atop the dashboard.
The sizable Durango with three rows of seats remains a recommended buy of Consumer Reports, where reliability is projected to be a bit above average. The federal government reports that the 2016 Durango earned an overall four-out-of-five-stars safety rating. Both rear- and all-wheel drive Durangos received five stars in occupant protection in side crash testing and four stars in a frontal crash test.
The starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including delivery charge, of $31,490 for a base, rear-wheel drive, 2016 Durango SXT with a 295-horsepower V6 engine is competitive for an SUV its size. The lowest starting retail price, including destination charge, for a 2016 Durango SXT with all-wheel drive is $34,090.
Those prices compare with $32,995 for a two-wheel drive, 2016 Highlander LE with a 270-horsepower V6 engine and $34,415 for a 2016 Highlander LE with all-wheel drive.
The Durango remains powerful as well as boldly styled.
Unlike the Highlander and many other SUVs, the Durango doesn't offer a four-cylinder engine or turbocharging.
In fact, the 295-horsepower, 3.6-liter, double overhead cam Pentastar V6 that's standard in most Durangos is more powerful than the V6s in many SUVs, including the 280-horsepower, 2016 Honda Pilot and the 281-horsepower, 2016 Chevrolet Traverse.
The Durango V6 produces peak torque of 290 foot-pounds at 4,000 rpm and compares with the Pilot V6's 262 foot-pounds at 4,700 rpm and up to 270 foot-pounds at 3,400 rpm from the Traverse V6.
Better yet for drivers who enjoy power, the 2016 Durango also continues to offer the 5.7-liter, Hemi V8, which generates 360 horsepower and 390 foot-pounds of torque at 4,250 rpm.
This engine is available only in the upper trim levels of the Durango — the Citadel and R/T that start at more than $42,000.
In the test-driven Durango R/T AWD, the V-8 provided strong acceleration and quickness to the 5,300-pound SUV. It passed cars on the highway easily and moved efficiently around double-parked cars in the city. Because it comes standard with a sport suspension and sits a bit closer to the pavement than other Durangos, occupants' body motions were tamped down.
The interior was quieter than expected, too, especially considering its 20-inch tires. Third-row passengers could speak normally and be heard by the driver while cruising, but while accelerating, the deep, strong sounds of the V8 came through.
Passengers could feel vibrations and some road bumps, but they weren't harsh.
The SUV has worse fuel economy than many competitors, though an automatic engine stop-start system was added to the V6 Durangos for 2016. The test-driven model averaged 18 mpg while traveling mostly at highway speeds.
The federal government rates the 2016 Durango with a V8 at 14 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on highways.
With a 24.6-gallon tank for regular gasoline, the travel range for the test-driven Durango on a single tank was 442 miles.
The Durango can be fitted with six or seven seats. With a good amount of seat track travel in the first two rows, most everyone can be accommodated.
The rearview camera is invaluable on the Durango as views out the back are minimal. But this camera is not offered on the base model.
With the V8, the Durango can tow a considerable 7,400 pounds.