2011 Dodge Durango R/T Hemi RWD / AWD – Short Take Road Test

Update: This test initially featured only the R/T AWD, but we have since tested a rear-drive R/T and added the results to the story below.

Through its first two generations, the Dodge Durangowas sort of an enthusiast secret, a quietly competent and unusually fun-to-drive SUV. After shepherding a last-gen truck for 40,000 miles, we concluded, “Does it get better than this? Maybe. But not much.” Sales of the Durango certainly didn’t get any better. After moving 137,148 of the trucks in 2004, Dodge watched Durango sales nose-dive to barely half that two years later and a mere 21,420 in 2008, after which point the Durango disappeared.

Now it’s back. If you studied only the critical dimensions, which are nearly dead on with the old truck’s, you’d be forgiven for thinking Dodge spent the interim working on a face lift. But you’d be wrong. For starters, there’s the small matter of the absentee frame. The formerly body-on-frame Durango now rides on a unibody platform it shares with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the same platform Mercedes-Benz will employ under its next ML and GL.

Durango Tango

Whereas its Jeep cousin perpetuates that brand’s dirt fetish, the Durango pursues sport in a different discipline. The two trucks’ suspension layouts are the same, but the Dodge is longer than the Jeep by a full 10 inches, with an extra five between its axles. Additionally, the Durango’s shock and spring rates are stiffer, and it has larger anti-roll bars. The R/T further stiffens the shocks and springs and lowers the ride height by 0.8 inch. Like the Heat and Citadel trims, the R/T includes 20-inch wheels.

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