Review: 2013 Dodge Durango R/T – The Only Manly Crossover Left?

2013 dodge durango r/t v8 hemi snow off-road
2013 Dodge Durango R/T playing in snowy Rocky Mountains

The three row crossover segment is one the hottest on the market right now.  These large people movers are flying off dealer lots across the nation. The 2013 Dodge Durango R/T adds a unique and macho entry into this fiercely competitive segment.  The Durango just had its best sales month (March 2013) in eight years.  Is this 2013 R/T model just the ticket to continue the sales growth for the Durango?  Lets dive into the details and find out.

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price HP / Lb-Ft
2013 Dodge Durango R/T $38,595 $45,165 360/390
EPA Rating MPG As Tested MPG
Rating: BUY IT! 13/20 Combined 15 Combined 16

First Impressions

The 2013 Dodge Durango R/T has a masculine overall appearance.  You don’t have to step up too high to get in, and once you are inside you can tell that the interior is spacious and well executed.  The steering wheel is nice and thick and the R/T embroidered seats are supportive and comfortable.  This model packs the mighty HEMI V8, so the sound emanating from the round dual exhausts is pure American glory.


The blacked out grill and low front valance make this Durango R/T a menacing and aggressive machine.  Its profile is much softer and has a wagon-like elongated appearance.  The rear end finishes off nicely with a tall and strong look, but the tail-light design is not my favorite.  (I am much more excited about the updated 2014 Durango taillights.)  The 20-inch rims on this tester are an added bonus, but could use an even bolder design.

2013 dodge durango r/t hemi v8 interior seats

There is more good news on the inside where the masculine theme continues.  The main gauges are outlined with bright red rings, there is the beefy steering wheel, and materials feel and look good.  My test car came with second row heated captain chairs and middle console for a six person overall configuration.  This setup has a premium feel and is great for carrying adults.  However, if you have to transport little ones, you should go for the second row bench for added space and flexibility.  The second row captain chairs do not slide back-n-forth, but there is still plenty of room in the third row.  Adults under 6-foot will find adequate leg and head room in the way back.  By the way, the third row have power folding head rests controlled by the driver (a la Volvo) for better rearward visibility.


This is where the Durango R/T separates itself from the pack.  It is the only mainstream three-row crossover with available V8 power.  Does it make it a dinosaur or give it a competitive advantage?  For one, it uses the glorious 5.7 liter HEMI V8 with MDS and VVT.  And I am thankful that Dodge is keeping this motor in place and even continuing it for 2014 model year and hopefully beyond.  MDS stands for Multiple Displacement System and allows this HEMI to run in V4 mode when cruising under light load.  The transition between V4 and V8 modes is imperceptible to the driver – the way it should be.   The HEMI is backed up by a 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, and it’s a good transmission unless you are trying to clock a quick 0-60 MPH run as Nathan found out (see video below).  The prodigious 390 lb-ft of torque get you out of the hole quickly and 360 horses get you to about 50 MPH in a hurry.  However, a large spacing between 2nd and 3rd gears in this tester throws the engine down to about 3,500 rpm and slows down the progress.  You will still win most stop light races against V6 crossovers, just be mindful of the little hesitation between 50-60 MPH.

The Durango is setup to out-tow any competitor (at 7,200 lbs) and will also effortlessly cruise down the interstate at 75 MPH, while turning right around 2,000 rpm.  I did not get to test the towing prowess of this beast, but I do not have any doubts about Dodge’s claims.


A round of applause to the engineers responsible for tuning the suspension and steering systems on the R/T!  What an excellent job!  This Durango is tuned for sporty performance and it has huge anti-roll bars to prove it.  The ride is on the firm side, but it strikes a great balance between sport and comfort.  I was trying to come up with a comparison for the great and responsive steering feel and predictable cornering performance, and one SUV kept coming to mind – the 2013 BMW X5 M package.  Both have well weighted thick steering wheels and very similar suspension and handling dynamics.  The X5 is able to stay flatter through high speed corners, but otherwise this Durango R/T goes toe to toe with it.  I don’t know of any better compliment for this Durango.


AWD/4WD Starting Retail Price City/Hwy MPG HP / Lb-Ft Towing Lbs Cargo Cu-Ft, Ground Clear. In
2013 Dodge Durango R/T $38,745 13/20 360/390 7,200 84.5, 8.1
2013 Chevrolet Traverse 1LT $35,725 16/23 281/266 5,200 116, 7.2
2013 Ford Explorer Sport $40,780 16/22 365/350 5,000 80.7, 7.6
2013 GMC Acadia SLT1 $41,780 16/23 288/270 5,200 116.1, 7.6
2013 Honda Pilot EX-L $36,620 17/24 250/253 4,500 87, 8
2013 Hyundai SantaFe GLS $30,100 18/24 290/252 5,000 80, ?
2013 Mazda CX-9 Touring $33,820 16/22 273/270 3,500 100.7, 8
2013 Nissan Pathfinder SL $36,450 19/25 260/240 5,000 79.8, 6.5
2013 Toyota Highlander SE $35,860 17/22 270/248 5,000 95.4, 8

The only competitor that can challenge the Durango R/T on power and performance is the 2013 Ford Explorer Sport.  If you feed premium fuel to the Explorer Sport, then it will eek out the R/T with 365 turbocharged horsepower.  However, it still cannot match the major twist of the HEMI.  None of the competitors can even come close to Durango’s tow rating.  If you have a 22 foot ski boat and trailer (approaching 6,000 lbs together), then Durango R/T is your only choice among these.  Yes, you will pay a penalty at the pump, but it just comes with the territory.
On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2013 Dodge Durango R/T a Buy It!

If this V8 powered people mover has an achilles hill, then it is its hunger for fuel.  I was able to average 16 MPG after a week of mixed driving on my standard driving loops, and this is acceptable for a large and heavy vehicle.  However, when it comes down to it – the 2013 Dodge Durango R/T put a smile on my face every time I got in it.  Perhaps, it was the comfortable interior, the brisk acceleration, the song of the HEMI, or all of the above!  Durango R/T is arguably the only manly three-row crossover on the market and it wins my vote.  I am happy to give it a Buy It!

Take a look at this Durango R/T go where it was never intended – a rough and rocky off-road trail!

Andre Smirnov
Andre Smirnov

Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, software engineer, writer, and reporter. He has been writing and reporting at TFLcar since 2011. When not working or spending time with the family – you can find him tinkering in the garage or scouring the internet and other media for various automotive, mechanical, and computer related information.