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09 Jan 12 Leaps forward in engineering make latest Durango the best yet


The front seats in all models are firm and supportive, just like the essentially identical set in the Grand Cherokee. Citadels come wrapped in slippery Napa leather and are both heated and cooled.

The second-row seating is roomy and offers a traditional power outlet for laptops and the like. Citadels feature rear seat warmers, a very welcome feature. Row 3 is really for kids, but the splitfolding seats are actually reasonably comfortable for smaller adults. Unlike some rivals, the Durango’s rear seats are manually-folding, an inconvenience I didn’t really find inconvenient. Just one lever and a pull strap move the seats into place in less time than most power units take.

Materials throughout the interior are class-leading – which makes them a colossal leap ahead of any previous Durango. Soft-touch materials and chrome trims abound, with nothing feeling cheap aside from maybe some of the trim around the gear lever. A dark finish faux wood completes the look much better than one would have expected it to.

Performance:

Yes, this Citadel has a HEMI; 5.7 litres of V8 power, best-in-class at 360 horsepower, 390 foot-pounds of torque and variable valve timing. It switches automatically from eight cylinders to four during cruising, for greater fuel efficiency (16.6L/100 km in the city and 10.0L/100 km on the open highway, not bad for an AWD seven-passenger SUV).

The Durango puts this power rating to good use when towing, rated at 7,400 pounds, another class-leading stat. The six-speed transmission is another component shared with the Mercedes ML and it shifts smoothly under load.

The engineers have included a standard trailer sway control plus several additional safety features such as blind spot monitoring, rear cross path detection (to warn of traffic in parking lots), adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning.

Driving/utility:

The 2012 Durango is definitely the best one yet with big leaps forward in engineering thanks to Daimler. The handling for the full-sized SUV is firm and settled, the Citadel was positively unflappable over any broken pavement I could find in Montreal or the surrounding countryside. The hydraulic rack-andpinion power steering (not the electric setup found on its rivals) made the Durango mildly entertaining on curvy roads. Body lean was minimal, especially given the size of the vehicle, and grip from the optional all-wheel-drive was tenacious.

With the third row seats folded flat, there’s tons of cargo space. The DVD player will keep the kids happy, especially with the UConnect Web feature keeping everybody online.

The exterior styling is an odd mix, a little too sedate for me, but in the case of the Citadel, with too much chrome in the grille. I would choose to load up the R/T version with options to equal the Citadel’s features.

Article source: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/todays-paper/Leaps+forward+engineering+make+latest+Durango+best/5965446/story.html

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