The 2017 Dodge Durango GT is the Bad Boy of Family Hauling Crossovers (Review)

The 2017 Dodge Durango GT AWD is handsome, fast, practical and comfortable. There was a time when Dodge trucks were best suited for farm or commercial work, but those days are long gone.

My test Durango  GT AWD (all-wheel drive) drove much like a big car. Its electric power steering was firm but quick and the ride was generally supple. However, some road bumps still let you know that you were in a truck. Handling was secure, even on curvy road sections, and it was easy to maneuver this SUV, which comes complete with dual exhaust outlets in keeping with its sporty image.

The brakes inspired confidence, and the rotary shifter on the console was easy to use without mistaking one gear for another.

Sunlight occasionally washed out gauge readings, but the nicely designed interior was quiet and surrounded occupants with fairly high-grade materials. There were plenty of storage areas.

The 2017 Durango GT AWD not only provides the extra security of all-wheel drive but also has ample creature comforts. They include comfortable leather-trimmed power front seats, air conditioning with 3-zone automatic temperature control, push button start, easily used 8.4-inch-inch touchscreen display, rear backup camera, heated front and rear seats, along with a heated steering wheel, and a 60/40 split-and-tumble second-row seat.

Options include a power sunroof and hatch, premium audio system, rear DVD entertainment center, rear seat video system, blind spot and cross-path detection and power tilt/telescopic wheel. You can even get a full-size spare tire if one of the Durango GT’s big 20-inch tires goes flat.

Those who plan on using the third seat a lot should consider the optional second-row fold and tumble captain’s chairs. They make it much easier to reach the third-row seat because they have a path between them.

However, there is little cargo room with the third-row seat in its normal, upright position. And getting in and out calls for extra effort.The narrow running boards are virtually useless for helping you enter or leave unless you have a ballerina’s foot size. On the flip side, occupants sit high.

My test 2017 Durango GT AWD came with a 295-horsepower V-6, which provided plenty  of fast passing on highways. Fiat Chrysler says a 5.7-liter 360-horsepower V-8 also is offered, but it’s not really needed unless you’re often carry full loads and still want to go real fast.

Durango prices are in the ball park, starting at start at $29,995 and ending at $45,090.  My test Dodge Durango GT AWD with a V-6 listed at $40,095, but its many options bumped the price to $48,765, including a $1,095 destination charge.

Estimated Durango GT fuel economy with the V-6 and AWD is 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 on highways, which I found were fairly accurate numbers. Only regular-grade gas is needed. I expected less economy because the Durango is quite heavy.

An efficient eight-speed automatic transmission helps out here in terms of both fuel economy and performance.

Dodge says the estimated cruising range with the V6 is 600 miles and 500 miles with the V-8.

The Durango GT would be a good cruiser for long family summer vacation drives, while providing versatility once a destination was reached.

Price: $40,095