Driving With Dan: 2012 Dodge Durango

The 2012 Dodge Durango is leaps and bounds over the previous years. It now considered a major player in the SUV segment. Dan Weise, Automotive writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch proves why.

Here's Dan's Outlook:

1.)     Durango took the 2010 model year off, regrouping to completely reinvent itself for the 2011 model year. We`re showing a 2012.

2.)     This second generation Durango jettisons the original`s body-on-frame truck platform and its solid-axle, truck-style rear suspension in favor of a unibody, car-like platform and a car-style fully independent suspension, all of which results in a smoother ride and better handling.

3.)     Durango shares its basic platform with both the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Mercedes-Benz M-Class. (Work on the new Durango began before the divorce of Chrysler and Daimler.)

4.)     Durango offers a lot of choices. It can be had with a 290-hp V-6 or a 360-hp V-8; with rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive; with a five-speed automatic in V-6 models or a new-for-2012 six-speed automatic for the V-8; and with six- or seven-passenger seating.

5.)     New for 2012 is a pair of bucket-seat captain`s chairs for the middle row, a $695 option. The standard middle seat is a three-passenger bench seat.

6.)     Durango offers plenty of interior room, including a two-person third row that actually can accommodate two adults.

7.)     Trim levels include SXT (V-6 only), Crew (V-6 or V-8), R/T (V-8 only) and Citadel (V-6 or V-8).

8.)     Despite its unibody construction, Durango when equipped with the V-8 can tow a whopping 7,400 pounds - easily best-in-class.

9.)     Only down side to this SUV is a fairly stingy 17 cu. ft. of cargo room with the third-row seat up.

10.)     With this total redesign, the Durango has gone from an also-ran to one of the best in the class of large crossover SUVs.

2012 Dodge Durango Vital Statistics

TYPE: Six- or seven-passenger large crossover

DRIVE FORMAT: Rear- or all-wheel drive

BASE PRICE: SXT: $29,845; Crew: $34,545; R/T: $36,645; Citadel: $41,845