2009 Dodge Durango

Dodge Durango is an SUV that looks tough but rides smoothly. It handles like a truck, but at the same time is quiet, roomy, and comfortable. It's larger than midsize SUVs, such as the Ford Explorer, and has the room and feel of a full-size SUV, such as the Expedition and Tahoe. Durango offers seating for five, seven or eight, depending on the model; for example, optional second-row bucket seats provide seven-passenger capacity on a three-row model. A new hybrid gas-electric powertrain joins the lineup for 2009, allowing a 40-percent improvement in fuel economy in heavy traffic and 25 percent fuel economy boost overall. The Hybrid utilizes the Hemi V8 and two electric motors. A V6 is standard, but two V8s are available and both are superb. Drivers who want or need more can opt for the 5.7-liter Hemi, which gains 30 horsepower for 2009. Also new for 2009 is the available rear DVD entertainment system gains Sirius Backseat TV. Dodge's MyGIG hard-drive radio is now called UConnect GPS in the Durango and its hard-drive grows from 20 to 30 gigabytes. The base SXT model has also been replaced by an SE model and last year's Adventurer model is gone.

2009 Dodge Durango Lineup and Options

The 2009 Dodge Durango is offered in four models: SE, SLT, Limited, and Hybrid. The Hybrid is offered only with all-wheel drive. The others are available with two-wheel drive (2WD) or all-wheel drive (abbreviated AWD or 4WD). Standard features for SE models include cloth upholstery; air conditioning; front bucket seats; 40/20/40 folding second-row seat; tilt steering wheel; cruise control; power windows, exterior mirrors, and door locks; remote keyless entry; four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo; roof rails; fog lights; and P245/70R17 on-/off-road tires on steel wheels. The SE Technology Group includes Sirius satellite radio and remote engine starting. A Popular Equipment Group includes a two-passenger, folding third-row bench seat; rear heating and air conditioning; gray running boards; heavy-duty alternator and battery; and P265/60R18 on/off-road tires on 18-inch alloy wheels. Also offered is a Towing Package with a Class IV trailer hitch, four- and seven-pin wiring harness, and a heavy-duty alternator and battery.

SLT models upgrade with stain-resistant seat fabric; leather-wrapped steering wheel; eight-way power driver's seat; reclining second-row seats; two-passenger third-row folding bench seat; six-disc CD changer; Sirius satellite radio; 115-volt outlet; security alarm; automatic headlights; electronic vehicle information center; and P265/60R18 on-/off-road tires on alloy wheels. SLT Technology Group includes rear obstacle detection, rearview camera, UConnect Phone wireless cell phone link, upgraded audio with MYGIG Multimedia System, power liftgate, remote engine starting, and a three-passenger 60/40 split-folding third-row bench seat. A Leather Interior Group adds leather first- and second-row seats, heated front seats, laminated front and rear door glass, power adjustable pedals, and running boards. Also offered are a sunroof and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with Sirius Backseat TV. Limited models are plush, with leather upholstery; automatic climate control; heated front seats; four-way power passenger seat; power-adjustable pedals; heated power mirrors; memory for the driver's seat, mirrors, radio, climate control and pedals; auto-dimming rearview and driver's side mirrors; three-passenger third-row 60/40 split folding seat; Alpine eight-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo; rear park assist; rearview camera; Chrysler's UConnect Phone wireless cell phone link; power liftgate; and P265/50R20 on/off-road tires on chrome alloy wheels.

Options for the Limited in addition to those of the lower models include heated second-row bucket seats and UConnect GPS hard-drive radio with navigation system. Limited Hybrid also adds a universal garage door opener and UConnect GPS. The Hybrid uses the 5.7-liter V8 mated to an electrically continuously variable transmission (EVCT) with two electric motors. The Hybrid does not have low-range gearing.

2009 Dodge Durango Handling and Engine

Ride quality is surprisingly good on the 2009 Dodge Durango, thanks to plenty of wheel travel built into Durango's suspension. Up front, torsion bars absorb impacts while providing tight control. Out back, Durango centers its live rear axle with a three-segment Watt link instead of a single-segment Panhard rod. Cornering and handling are good for a big SUV, but the Durango is far less nimble than a car or crossover SUV. In off-road driving, the Durango won't hit bottom even when driven aggressively over rough terrain. However, crawling over irregular terrain in 4 Low reveals the suspension is set up more for on-road handling than off-road flex. The 4.7-liter V8 engine produces 303 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. The 4.7-liter engine is generally competent and smooth, but it struggles to provide passing punch. With the 4.7-liter V8, the Durango can pull up to 6050 pounds. The 5.7-liter V8 Hemi is upgraded for 2009, gaining 30 horsepower to 365 and 20 pound-feet of torque to 390. The 2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid has a Traction Power Inversion Module that determines when the vehicle should operate in the first or second mode and also chooses gears. The first mode is mostly for around-town driving and can use battery power alone up to 25 mph. The second mode is meant for highway speeds and always uses engine power.

2009 Dodge Durango Interior

The Dodge Durango feels spacious inside. Large amounts of glass contribute to that feeling along with lots of cargo space. The Cabin is nicely designed, with convenient grab handles cleverly molded into the stubby rear leg of the second-row seat, which ease climbing back to the third row. A small bubble in the ceiling provides additional headroom for third-row passengers. A one-piece third-row bench is standard on SLT. On Limited and Hybrid models, the third row is split 60/40 for additional convenience. The second and third rows are notably easy to access because the rear doors open an exceptionally wide 84 degrees. The second-row seat easily flips forward with the touch of one hand, and the seatback flops flat just as easily. Second-row bucket seats are available to replace the standard 40/20/40 bench. A second-row floor console is part of the bucket-seat package. The front seats are comfortable, neither too soft nor too firm, and the four-spoke steering wheel is nice. Cargo capacity is quite impressive, making the Durango a great hauler. Behind the second row of seats is 68 cubic feet of cargo space, equal to the total for many SUVs. If the second row is down there's 102 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Instrumentation is handsome and easy to read and operate. It is simple and utilitarian. The UConnect GPS system comes with a 6.5-inch touch screen, a navigation system with real-time traffic, and a 30-gigabyte hard drive to hold music and picture files, plus navigation map information. The navigation system can be operated with voice commands, which can be used to input destination information when the vehicle is in motion. The optional rear DVD entertainment system now has Sirius Backseat TV.

2009 Dodge Durango Exterior

The Dodge Durango offers an imposing presence, with its big crosshair grille and shotgun headlights that have become a Dodge signature. The short front and rear overhangs, not typical of a full-size SUV, contribute to Durango's forceful expression. SLT models come with 18-inch aluminum wheels, and 18-inch chrome-clad aluminum wheels come standard on Limited; 20-inch chrome-clad wheels are optional. That short hood leads into a steeply raked windshield and sloping roof. The front fenders make the hood look as narrow as it is short. The windshield is aerodynamically efficient and offers good visibility. Despite its modern aerodynamics, the Durango takes styling cues from the 1946-68 Dodge Power Wagon, essentially a World War II T214 military truck with a longer wheelbase and a civilian-style, fully enclosed cab. The roofline on the Durango dips slightly at the rear, and the liftgate window curves in to meet it, which keeps Durango from looking entirely like a box. Afterburner tail lamps are another Dodge hallmark. The center high-mounted stop lamp is integrated smoothly into the rear roofline.

2009 Dodge Durango Safety

Safety features on all models include dual-stage front airbags and head-protecting side-curtain air bags that cover all three seating rows and have roll-over sensors. Side-impact airbags, however, are not available. ABS and electronic stability control with traction control come standard. A tire-pressure monitor comes standard on all models. Rear obstacle detection and a rearview camera are standard on the Limited and Hybrid.

The Dodge Durango is smooth and powerful SUV, and is versatile with the choice of aV6, two V8, or a hybrid engine. This large midsize SUV rides well, handles well for its size and weight, and has excellent engineering touches and details. It is an excellent choice if hauling and towing are needed. The 2009 Durango comes with a basic warranty of 36 months/36,000 miles.

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