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2021 Dodge Durango R/T Review: Expected Price, Release Date, MPG Figures and Performance

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John Bedrow

Automotive Journalist

July 15, 2020 at 03:10 PM

Dodge described the Durango as an SUV "for muscle car people with families." The Dodge Durango is a big burly SUV that looks, sounds and feels assertive. The Durango is back for 2021 with its beefy looks with class-leading towing numbers, enviable acceleration, and ample room for up to seven passengers. For 2021, Dodge is updating the line with an even more aggressive exterior design, a revised interior, and more tech features. It is also getting a new high-performance trim, the SRT Hellcat. It faces competition from the likes of Mercedes GLE 450 and the Ford Explorer ST. The 2021 model is even angrier than its predecessors and cannot wait to unleash its fury

One of the more desirable SUVs on the streets, the Durango has received some much-needed updates to come back strong in the muscle SUV. Thankfully, it is one of the few cars that has not yet gone down the drain of downsizing and hybridization. Till this time, Durango used to be the everyday runabout SUV which it is not, as proved by the size of the engines that run beneath the hood. Dodge has listened to these woes of the people hence they are here to make some changes to the almost boring exteriors and even to the interiors.

The 2021 Durango will be part of the third generation which is continuing since 2011. The car will now get some refreshed looks, as well as some changes to the interior. Talking specifically about the R/T trim, there is a new Tow N Go package which boosts up the toe rating in the R/T trim and now makes it the most desirable trim to be owned as it hits a sweet spot in the trim lineup.

What’s New?

  • Changes on the exterior 
  • Changes on the interior 
  • Updated infotainment 
  • Increased connectivity features

What to expect in the engine department of the 2021 Dodge Durango?

There are no changes under the hood of the 2021 Durango R/T, which means it runs the same behemoth Hemi 5.7L V8 which is a lot more tasteful than the base and strained V6. Not only does the engine have more power, but it also sounds quite sporty with 360 ponies and a net torque output of 390 lb.-ft which gives a tow rating of 7,400 lbs. But it does not end here, for 2021, Dodge revealed a new Tow N Go package for the R/T trim which takes the tow rating up to 8,700 pounds which is equal to the monstrous Hellcat’s ratings.

The behemoth 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic which is quick and decisive with its shifts. This powertrain offers both impressive towing capacity as well as the option of all-wheel drive. There are also drive modes now which are added to the Durango, which is namely Track, Sport, Snow, and Tow. In the standard form, the R/T comes in a rear-wheel-drive layout while its competitors come with all-wheel drive as default. 

Model

2021 Dodge Durango R/T* (Expected)

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 

2020 Ford Explorer ST

Base MSRP

$45,000 (exp.)

$68,150

$54,935

Engine

5.7-liter supercharged HEMI V8

3.0-liter twin-turbo V6

3.5-liter turbocharged V6

Transmission

8-Speed Automatic

9-Speed Automatic

10-Speed Automatic

Power (hp @ rpm)

360 @ 6,000

362 @ 5500

400 @ 5,250

Torque (lb.-ft @ rpm)

390 @ 4,300

369 @ 1600

415 @ 1,500

0-60 (seconds)

6.7 

5.9 

5.5 

Quarter Mile (seconds)

15.0

N/A

N/A

The Durango R/T and the Mercedes GLE 450 have similar power numbers, but it is the Explorer ST surprisingly with the best figures and hence the quickest. We do not have the actual acceleration figures for the 2021 model. The acceleration figures mentioned are for the 2020 model. The acceleration figures are expected to change with all the upgrades.

Ride and Handling

Ride quality is greatly improved than before because of the upgrades done to the suspension. The SUV might be a bit stiffer in an uncomfortable way for those who are used to sitting in luxury-oriented SUVs. But make no mistake, the Durango R/T is still easy to live with and is a great family-friendly car that is fun to drive. That is because the suspension lands it right between sportiness and comfort.

So, on one hand, it is as athletic as an SUV can be, but it is also a capable everyday SUV. The steering is quite precise and the weight on it is nicely done. One of the characteristics is that it's nimble hence the ease of using it every day. It steers undoubtedly like an SUV, there is no getting around that but still, it is worth noting that it is like a small SUV in your hands.

2021 Dodge Durango: Fuel Economy

The Hemi V8 engine might be entertaining but it has a dismal fuel economy, which should not come as a surprise for an 8-cylinder engine this big in displacement. However, one fact which is appreciable here that there is no difference in fuel economy between the rear-wheel drive and the all-wheel-drive, but the SUV only runs on mid-grade gasoline.

Model

2021 Dodge Durango R/T* (Expected)

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 

2020 Ford Explorer ST

MPG (city)

14

19

18

MPG (highway)

22

24

24

MPG (combined)

17

21

20

Fuel Tank Capacity(gallons)

24.6

22.5

21.8

Range(city/highway in miles)

344/541

428 / 540

392 / 523

Amongst its rivals, the Mercedes Benz GLE 450 has the most impressive fuel economy. It also has the most range thanks to its big fuel tank. Thanks to the biggest fuel tank and the cylinder deactivation capability the Durango has one of the best highway ranges. The official 2021 gas mileage figures have not been released so we have taken the 2020 models figures to give you an idea of what you can expect. 

What to expect from the Durango R/T’s interior?

There are significant changes with the interiors of the Durango, which is much needed as the console always felt dated. The quality of materials may not be the grade of materials you find on luxury SUVs, but they are really well-executed here. there is a thick leather wrap along with some metal accents on the steering wheel. Paddle shifters provided behind the steering wheel have a satisfying click to it and the central console feels a lot roomier than ever before.

The ergonomics are top-notch, though the second and third-row space might not be the greatest. The Durango in essence is a 7-seater, but the recommended number of people in the cabin is 4, to be honest. The front row is really comfortable for long jaunts, they are big in size and offer plenty of adjustabilities. Move a row back and though you can seat three abreast, it can only seat two comfortably as in the front row. The third row can seat adults, but they would feel comfortable for short distances only.

Model

2021 Dodge Durango R/T* (Expected)

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 

2020 Ford Explorer ST

Passenger Capacity

7

5

6

Front(Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in.)

39.9/58.5/40.3

40.4/59.3/40.3

40.8/61.8/43.0

Second(Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in.)

39.8/57.7/38.6

39.6/58.4/40.9

40.5/61.9/39.0

Cargo Capacity (cubic feet)

17.2

N/A

18.2

The Explorer ST has marginally more space than the GLE. The Durango trails slightly behind its rivals when it comes to interior space but it is only by a small margin. Don’t let these numbers fool you about the cargo space, the Durango has a row extra so if you fold it down, you get 47.7 cu.ft. and if you fold down the second row then it gets 84.5 cu.ft. which not only is the highest among the competition but also becomes almost a minivan.

Does it come loaded with tech inside?

The tech changes by far are the most substantial. There is a new instrument panel and a new infotainment screen. The 10.1-inch touchscreen is equipped with the Uconnect infotainment 5 system which has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa as standard. Wireless charging is included and there are plenty of buttons for climate control.

The cockpit is redesigned, and the gauges are canted towards the driver and they can view the red and white on a black background comfortably. Checking the infotainment screen would also not be an issue while driving due to its large size.

Will there be any changes to the exterior of the Durango R/T?

There are plenty of changes on the exterior of the Durango which perhaps are the most notable change in this update. The styling cues and fashion advice of the car seem to be taken from the Challenger Widebody which then went to the SRT which has eventually come to the R/T. 

Highlights include LED daytime running lamps, the newly sculpted hood, the grill which makes it look like the Challenger itself. There is a new rear spoiler which is nothing dramatic to look at, but it is a nice touch. One thing that stands out a little sore to the eyes is the placement of the front camera. It makes the perfectly good front bumper look weird.

Model

2021 Dodge Durango R/T* (Expected)

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450

2020 Ford Explorer ST

Curb Weight(lbs.)

5176

4991

4701

Length (in.)

201.2

194.3

199.3

Width (in.)

75.8

76.7

78.9

Height (in.)

71.9

70.7

70.2

Ground Clearance (in.)

N/A

N/A

8.3

Wheelbase (in.)

119.8

117.9

119.1

*2020 numbers used for reference

The Durango is the heaviest as well as the longest here which explains the impressive cargo capacity of this car. Dimensionally the 2021 model will only have a slight difference to its predecessor since most of the updates are visuals rather than to the platform.

Will the 2021 Dodge Durango R/T be worth it?

The 2021 Dodge Durango R/T is the perfect trim out of all of them if you need to get your hands on a Durango. Dodge has cleverly specked the R/T with the looks of the SRT and a Hemi V8. In addition, now with the Tow N Go package, it can haul as much cargo as the manic Hellcat. This SUV has it all, even comfort for the driver who wants to use it on the daily or carry his family around.

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