Generally, destiny has a humorous method of toying with the best-laid plans. Mere days after I completed a stint behind the wheel of the 2017 Dodge Durango R/T, presently the quickest three-row SUV within the FCA line-up, the automaker proclaimed that subsequent 12 months it can produce an SRT model of the identical hauler – with 115 further horsepower and a ton of additional torque, too.

With a sweep of the leg, the SRT announcement knocked my whole focus for this evaluation on its hindquarters, leaving me scrambling to discover a unique approach from which to judge the Durango R/T. My coronary heart went out to the massive sport-utility car, because the state of affairs felt just like the equal of the faculty valedictorian discovering out his twin brother had simply been elected President of america of America, instantly after commencement.

As a lot as being newly-designated the quantity two son would possibly depart a mark, it’s nonetheless a reasonably first rate place to occupy in an organization’s SUV pecking order. The 2017 Dodge Durango R/T additionally occurs to be one of many extra distinctive seven-passenger fashions presently in the marketplace by way of energy, driving dynamics, and functionality, making it an intriguing possibility for households keen to paint outdoors the traces.

What units the Durango other than its large, brawny brethren? For starters, it doesn’t share the identical truck-based underpinnings which can be de rigueur on the reasonably priced three-row sport-utility market, buying and selling a body-on-frame design for smoother-driving unibody development. You’d should go pretty excessive up the posh ladder to search out one other mannequin that mixes a unibody platform with the V8 powered supplied by the R/T, and spend a substantial sum of cash within the course of.

The Dodge Durango manages this by leveraging its large secret: it’s truly an extended-wheelbase model of the extraordinarily fashionable Jeep Grand Cherokee, with further room carved out for cargo and a fold-flat set of seats on the very rear of the truck. Though it’s tough to catch on to the Durango’s roots when viewing the car from the surface, the cabin sports activities quite a few callbacks to the Jeep, particularly on the dashboard and gauge cluster.

There’s no actual practicality penalty to pay, both, when evaluating the Dodge to rivals just like the Ford Expedition, the Nissan Armada, the Chevrolet Tahoe, and the GMC Yukon (all of which it out-sells, except for the Tahoe). Towing capability is listed at 7,200 lbs proper out of the field, which is greater than double the typical trailer weight being hauled on American roads, and aggressive with every of the above-listed vehicles (till you add their excessive/max towing packages to the equation). Whole cargo area is nice, too, with its 84.5 cubes falling inside 10 cubic toes of the bigger choices supplied by Ford et al, and I used to be in a position to load in an eight-foot metal-and-wood e book case after folding down the second and third rows with no points.

How noticeable is the Dodge Durango R/T’s platform benefit in day by day driving? Regardless of a prodigious curb weight and a stiffer suspension system than different Durango fashions, the R/T manages to stay composed over the sort of tough pavement extra prone to upset the apple automotive in a truck-based SUV. It’s remarkably straightforward to pilot regardless of its measurement, and feels extra comfy in a car parking zone than I might have anticipated. The R/T’s steering has been quickened as in comparison with different Durango fashions, however alas right here I didn’t discover a lot of a distinction whereas commuting.

Dealing with is nearer to that of the Grand Cherokee than a sedan-based bigger crossover just like the Chevrolet Traverse or the Toyota Highlander, however in fact neither of these car-derived choices present the towing capability made doable partly by the Durango R/T’s 5.7-liter Hemi V8. Rated at 360 horsepower, and able to producing 390 lb-ft of torque, the unit pairs with an eight-speed automated transmission and out there all-wheel drive (with low-range gearing additionally within the playing cards). Count on 60-mph to reach from a standing begin in just some ticks previous six seconds, whereas the gas gauge drains equally quickly (17-mpg mixed is optimistic for the R/T). You’ll get higher MPG from the entry-level V6 supplied by the SUV, however not almost as a lot authority when passing or towing.

That the Durango SRT will eclipse the Durango R/T in each essential efficiency measure, what with its bonkers horsepower, adaptive suspension, and programmable drive modes, shouldn’t be unsure. Whether or not the vast majority of present Durango clients will really feel the necessity to improve is one other matter fully. The R/T is a slick-looking sport-utility car that gives an extended checklist of consolation options, respectable energy, and a $42,000 beginning price ticket. It’s received the muscle truck persona down pat with out resorting to over-the-top scoops or fender flares, and that’s a successful mixture for drivers who’d actually quite be piloting a Challenger however want the additional row of seating.