Considering the miserable weather that has afflicted millions of motorists across much of the country this winter, now might not be the most opportune time to be discussing the merits of the rear-wheel-drive 2014 Dodge Durango.
But, for those of you whose lives have not been plagued by the relentless winter storms, let’s take a look at what I learned about one mid-level, fair-weather Durango during a week-long visit to Scottsdale, AZ, where, admittedly, the weather was sunny and the roads level and smooth.
First, let”s deal with the nitty-gritty.
Officially, this billet silver, metallic clear coat, mid-size SUV is known as the 2014 Dodge Durango Rallye RWD, with Rallye signifying an optional appearance group that includes 20-inch wheel and tires, a monochromatic exterior treatment, dual exhausts, second-row fold-and-tumble captain’s chairs and an assortment of electronic convenience accessories that included Bluetooth hands-free cell-phone access, trip computer and more.
Power is supplied by a smooth and unobtrusive V-6 engine that generates 295 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It is teamed with a seamless 8-speed automatic transmission that can be manually shifted with steering-wheel-mounted paddles.
An extra cost V-8 engine is available, but it really is not necessary for anyone who wants a Durango primarily for the type of chores normally associated with a growing family.
Now, let’s consider a few reasons why a buyer might actually prefer a rear-wheel-drive, V-6 powered SUV and even make a case for this vehicle in areas where infrequent snow creates occasional problems.
First of all, at $34,480 with options, this corporate cousin to the Jeep Grand Cherokee is significantly less expensive than most of the other models in the Durango stable.
For a comparison, check out the report by CarBuzzard boss John Matras on the $47,280, all-wheel-drive, 2014 Dodge Durango Citadel and the report by Buzzard contributor BJ Killeen on the $46,495, rear-wheel-drive, 2014 Dodge Durango R/T powered by a 360-horsepower Hemi V-8.
But price is not the only cost-saving feature. The rear-wheel-drive SUV will return an EPA-estimated 18 miles per gallon of regular fuel around town and 25 mpg on the highway. That compares with 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway for the Citadel and a lowly 14 mpg city/23 mpg highway for the V-8-powered R/T.
For the record, I averaged 19 mpg around town and a surprisingly frugal 28 mpg on the highway. Of course, most of my travels were with only me in the vehicle.
Buyers interested in towing a boat or trailer should note that the V-6 engine is strong enough to tow up to 6,200 pounds. That’s 1,200 pounds less than the V-8 engine can pull along.