Words: Robert Nichols
Photography: Robert Nichols
Published: May 9, 2017
I am often asked to explain the difference between an SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) and a CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle). The two terms are used all too often – and incorrectly I might add – to describe the same vehicle. For example you will find reviews and advertisements claiming the Dodge Durango is an SUV and then another calling it a CUV. Making matters worse are companies that flip-flop between the labels.
No doubt you are now wondering how the two types differ so my usual response is that a real SUV is a truck based vehicle with a 4X4 system (locking diffs/high and low ranges/skid plates etc). This design uses a body on frame setup that is strong and rigid enough to take the abuse of off-road driving and towing throughout its lifetime.
A CUV on the other hand are vehicles that use a unibody design (a design that originated with cars), to which some add AWD components and pose as SUVs. Put simply an SUV is made of two separate pieces, a frame and a body, while in a CUV the frame and body are one piece.
The original Dodge Durango was based on the Dakota pick-up truck and was a comfortable and sturdy SUV. I rented one for a camping trip to the northern shores of Lake Superior and could not have picked a more suitable vehicle. There was more than enough room for four people and all our gear. The truck based suspension was exactly what was needed to travel down some rugged trails and rutted back roads. The only negative was gluttonous fuel consumption. The trip cost me over $300; bear in mind the price of a litre of regular gasoline at the time was only $0.58. My father made the same trip in his diesel Jetta (minus the off-road excursion). His round trip cost $50, a fact which he reminded me of gloatingly.
As I poured over the specifications for the 2017 Durango Citadel I learned what was once an SUV had become a CUV. When Dodge decided to convert the Durango into a CUV they probably did so for numerous reasons, one of which is likely that unibody construction is lighter, and therefore more fuel efficient. Another reason for the transition is floor space.
By not having to remain atop of two frame rails, interiors can be vast without the vehicle having to be outrageously tall. Any argument as to whether the change to this platform is good or bad is really moot since very few if any of these vehicles will ever be used for jungle expeditions or hauling farm equipment. So why not make them more comfortable and easy to live with?
Despite what the outward appearance may suggest, the Durango is actually considered a mid-size CUV. While we are talking about looks, it is without question the manliest CUV you can buy. The LED rear lighting really adds to the appeal, while the front end design brings to mind its truck-based roots with a broad and brooding stance.
Helping our Citadel model standout was the $1,095 Platinum Appearance Pack that adds platinum-accented mirror caps, fog light bezel, grille surround, front fascia, badging, rear lower fascia, door handles, lower sill moulding, black headlight bezels and 20” satin carbon wheels.
Moving inside you find leather seating for six, with four heated captain’s chairs, two rear passenger entertainment screens ($2,150) and an 8.4” infotainment screen up front that lets you keep an eye on the trailer. The touch screen works well, never requiring repeated attempts to obey a command. The seats are broad and comfortable, even for (how do I phrase this politely?) North American sized people, and outward visibility is great.
The layout of switchgear is well thought out. Everything is where you would expect it to be, but things are starting to appear a touch dated. Perhaps it was the abundant use of black – a contrasting colour may liven things up a bit. Consider the new Mazda CX-9 interior that uses real wood and aluminum accents, not to mention the best plastics found in the biz. The Durango’s interior by comparison looks and feels several generations older. Hopefully Dodge is already working on a refreshed interior because the rest of the vehicle oozes with driver-focused charisma and deserves an equally alluring cabin.
When it comes time to carry more items than bodies, the Durango offers 2392.7 L of space with all the seats down and can tow up to 3,265 kg when properly spec’d. Seats fold away easily into the floor and leave a level bed. The powered tailgate opens to reveal a useful space even with the rear seats in use and the lift over height for most will not be an issue.
There are two engines available, both of which are capable and make the right noises. The base models get the 3.6L Pentastar V6 which is rated to return 12.8 L/100 km city and 9.5 L/100 km highway; but who are we kidding. If you buy a Dodge, you are likely a HEMI fan and yes, the Durango has one: a thumping great V8 with 5.7L of irreplaceable displacement pumping out 360hp and 390 lb-ft.
This V8 delivers more than enough get up and go all while rumbling just the right amount. I had hoped for a louder soundtrack but an aftermarket exhaust will solve this dilemma in short order, and may even free up an extra pony or two. The official fuel consumption figures are 16.6 L/100 km city and 10.7 L/100 km highway. Personally I saw an average of 13.8 during my week.
On the road you still sense the truck DNA in the Durango; it isn’t the smoothest ride but that’s okay. You don’t want it to be. You expect it to be a bit brutish and uncivilised once in a while, that’s why you chose it over a GMC Acadia or some soft and cuddly cute ute.
You opted for the HEMI because you are not some shrinking violet. No, you want to be heard, and burnouts are a weekly requirement among your peers. The handling is rewarding with a bit of lean showing up in fast corners to subtly suggest that you rein it in a bit. The addition of the Technology Package grants the driver access to adaptive cruise, blind spot alert, emergency braking, lane departure assist and forward and rear cross traffic alerts.
The Durango is the driver’s CUV: it can handle the job of hauling a family, and will (more importantly) satisfy the hooligan within. While some aspects of the interior may be starting to show their age, the Durango on a whole is a great vehicle. It delivers all of the utility the modern family requires. It is easy to live with and won’t make dad feel as if he’s had to give up all of his toys.
型号 Model: 2017 Dodge Durango Citadel
顏色 Paint Type: Luxury Brown Pearl
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $56,945
試車售價 Price as Tested: $68,280
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 3,043
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,110 / 2,172 / 1,801
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2,448
引擎 Engine: 5.7-litre HEMI V8 VVT
最大馬力 Horsepower: 360 hp @ 5,150 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 390 lb-ft @ 4,250 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 16.6 / 10.7 / 14.0