Did you know that the current generation Dodge Durango has been around since 2011? A decade! That’s ancient in automotive years. But for 2021, Dodge has given the Durango a few updates to keep it relevant until the next generation arrives in a few years time.
Engine – The 2021 Dodge Durango Citadel comes standard with a 3.6L V6 engine. But for $3,295 CAD, you can option it with a 5.7L Hemi V8, as this demo vehicle has equipped. This Hemi V8 engine produces 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque (268 kW & 529 Nm). It’ll get the Durango going to 100 km/h in just under 6.5 seconds. A pretty impressive time considering that the Durago with the V8 engine & AWD tips the scales at 2,409 kg (5,313 lbs). However, this particular trim of the Durango is not meant for outright speed like its SRT & Hellcat brothers. This is meant for luxury & comfort. The engine exudes that type of personality because you get the feeling that it doesn’t really want to rev. It’s happy to just stay below 1,500 rpms when cruising and occasionally rev past 2,500 rpms when overtaking another vehicle on a highway.
With the V8 engine and AWD, the 2021 Durango can tow up to 7,200 lbs. Opt for the RWD version, United States only, and it’ll tow an additional 200 lbs. But for maximum towing, you have to go for the SRT Durango, SRT Hellcat, or R/T w/ Tow package which can tow up to 8,700 lbs.
On the other end of the spectrum, this V8 engine is not the most fuel efficient V8 out there. It does have a Multi-Displacement System (MDS) which shuts off half of the cylinder to save fuel but even so, it’s still a very heavy SUV. Officially it is rated for 10.9 L/100km (21.6 MPG) on a highway and 16.7 L/100km (14.1 MPG) in a city. During my time with the Dodge Durango, I managed to average 14.7 L/100km (16 MPG) but I did drive quite a bit on highways while I had the SUV.
Transmission – The V8 Hemi engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Just like the engine itself, the transmission is tuned for a more comfortable driving experience. Gear changes are buttery smooth but not that quick by current standards. BMW’s 8-speed or GM’s 10-speed automatics are faster at shifting gears. But for daily commutes or long road trips, which is what the Citadel is meant for, the transmission is a perfect match for the 5.7 Hemi V8.
Braking – Stepping on the brake pedal reminds you that this is a heavy SUV. It’s not that they don’t stop the Durango, because the brakes do, it’s just that the brake pedal has quite a bit of travel and it doesn’t feel as immediate as other braking systems. Again, it’s just the characteristic of this particular Durango trim. It prioritizes comfort over sportiness. For a stronger braking system, take a look at the SRT or Hellcat trims.
One thing to note, forward collision alert & automatic emergency braking are not standard features and have to be equipped with the Technology package.
Handling – Just like the braking performance, the handling dynamics are geared towards the comfort side of the spectrum. Steering response is quick and direct but it’s devoid of any feel. It’s also quite heavily assisted at slower speeds but that makes it easy to maneuver the big SUV around tight parking lots. It firms up on highways, however, so that you don’t have to continuously correct it for little deviations. Drive more enthusiastically around corners and understeer will show its ugly face.
Ride Comfort – The 2021 Dodge Durango Citadel is a super comfortable cruiser. It absorbs bumps like a sponge absorbs water. Apart from taking it off-roading, the Durango Citadel can drive over the roughest city streets without disturbing your morning coffee. The seats further add to the comfort with their large cushions for your bum.
Interior Space – The interior of the Dodge Durango is spacious but there are a few oddities. Passenger volume in the front seats is plentiful even if you’re as tall as myself at 6’4”. The second row seats have a bit less legroom than the Durango’s competitor, the Ford Explorer. Sitting behind my driving positions, my knees dug a bit into the back of the front seat. Unfortunately, the 2nd row captain’s chairs (full bench available on lower trims) do not slide on rails but they do recline. The 3rd row is usually only reserved for little kids but in the Durango, adults can comfortably sit there, and for long periods of time. 6’4” of me has just enough legroom and headroom. Getting into those back seats is also easy. Just pull the lever that’s on the side of the 2nd row and then tug on the red strap behind the seat to tilt it forward.
In the trunk, the Dodge Durango Citadel trades some of its cargo capacity for that passenger space. It has 1,226 L (43.3 cu-ft) with the 3rd row folded and 2,410 L (85.1 cu-ft) with the 2nd row folded. Overall, it’s a bit less than the cargo capacity of the Ford Explorer.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – The Durango Citadel shines in this category. Although it has a big V8 engine, it is supremely quiet. It’s only when the rpm needle edges closer to the 4,000 mark does the engine’s noise begin to intrude into the cabin. Wind and road noise are also very well subdued when driving on highways.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – The 2021 Dodge Durango Citadel starts at $55,469 CAD ($48,420 USD w/ RWD) with the V6 engine. Standard features on the Citadel trim include leather upholstery, heated 1st & 2nd row seats, heated steering wheel, wireless phone charging, wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, power liftgate, power sunroof (no panoramic option though), 20-inch wheels, and LED headlights to name a few. A pretty feature rich SUV. But as I stated earlier, advanced driver & safety aids such as automatic emergency braking or blind spot sensors are not standard but rather optional.
The biggest change to the 2021 Durango is the new Uconnect 5 infotainment system with the 10.1-inch touchscreen. The screen itself is beautiful to look at. High resolution and responsive to the touch. It’s such a good resolution that it makes the standard backup camera look like as though you’re watching a CRT TV. The infotainment itself is predictably faster than the last iteration of Uconnect and the menu system is a bit more intuitive to navigate.
Interior Design – The interior only sees a change to the center of the dashboard and a bit to the center console. The dash had to be changed to accommodate the new touchscreen. Thankfully, Dodge left the physical controls for the climate control system and did not try to incorporate them into the screen. The other minor change is to the center console for the wireless charging pad & USB ports. The majority of the materials are of good and premium feeling quality so long as you don’t touch things below your waistline. However, everything that you would normally touch or see is either leather or soft plastic.
Exterior Design – The exterior also sees a few tweaks for the 2021 model year. The daytime running lights have a new and sleeker design. The front is overall more aggressive in its design. The rear doesn’t see any changes to the design.
Warranty – The 2021 Dodge Durango is protected by a 3 year / 60,000 km new vehicle warranty and a 5 year / 100,000 km powertrain warranty. Anti-corrosion warranty is also 5 years but 160,000 km, whichever comes first. For more Canadian warranty information, click here. For USA warranty, click here.
So should you consider this relatively “ancient” Dodge Durango Citadel? Well the Dodge Durango is one of the last mid-size 3-row SUVs with a V8 engine on the market right now. The Ford Explorer did away with the V8 and it cannot tow as much as the Durango. While the Durango is almost as old as the Nissan 370Z, it still is one of the most comfortable mid-size SUVs out there. As well, with the addition of the new infotainment system, it manages to remain relevant among its younger competitors.
Thank you to Dodge Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Dodge.ca