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2018 Dodge Durango R/T V-8 Long-Term Arrival

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 12/12/2017 Motor Trend Staff
2018-Dodge-Durango-interior-rear-view-of-front.jpg

Let's try this again.

Last year, William Walker welcomed a Granite Gray 2017 Durango GT to our long-term fleet, only to have it stolen two months after its arrival—lock, stock, key fob, and 25 large worth of photo gear in the back—from a Los Angeles area restaurant's valet lot. It's probably been hauling Russian mobsters around Kamchatka since shortly thereafter because it was never recovered. For a hot minute we considered quietly replacing it with a doppelganger and carrying on, but the '18 models were just being announced, and we couldn't resist upgrading to an R/T model with the cool new SRT nose. And because Dodges are less rare and exotic in the brand's hometown (and hence hopefully less of an attractive nuisance than they apparently are in L.A. ), the replacement vehicle has been entrusted to our Detroit office for safekeeping.

Upgrading from a GT V-6 to an R/T V-8 adds $5,900. Figure the engine is worth $3,995 of that (that's the option cost on Citadel trim levels), with the extra two grand buying the aforementioned angry SRT bodywork (vented hood, blackout grille, sport front fascia), a lowered sport suspension with load-leveling, fancier lighting, rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors, Radar Red Nappa sport leather seating (with eight-way power in front), and the big-screen infotainment setup. Our snowbelt geography demanded another ($2,600) "Durango 4" upgrade. An MP 3023 transfer case delivers on-demand variable torque-split all-wheel drive with low-range gearing and a neutral setting (take note flat-tow RVers!). To this already high level of standard equipment we only added a tech package (adaptive cruise with collision and blind-spot and lane departure warnings for $2,495), the trailering group ($995), murdered-out black wheels and mirrors ($695), and a cargo package of roof rails, cross bars, and a cargo cover ($395). At $51,970 out the door, it's $9,195 spiffier than our 2017 GT.

a car parked in front of a building© Motor Trend Staff

Having put our order in just as 2018-model production started, our White Knuckle beauty was built on August 17 and delivered to us on September 22. As any good new owner should, we consulted the owners' manual break-in requirements, which were pretty simple: "Drive moderately during the first 300 miles," and "while cruising, brief full-throttle acceleration within the limits of local traffic laws contributes to a good break-in." Can do! Two trips to my lakeside cabin-restoration project had our Durango fully ready for action. On those treks we made abundant use of the 47.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the middle row of seats to haul tools and supplies, but the 43-inch-wide rear deck will preclude us from using it for drywall or paneling delivery.

a car parked on the side of a building© Motor Trend Staff

So far we are still grooving on our truck's bad boy looks, the Hemi's ready rumble, and the sport suspension's ride/handling trade-off (reasonably supple on the bumps, respectably flat in the curves). To date, our Hemi Durango 4's fuel economy is trailing that of our 3.6-liter rear-drive GT noticeably. After a month of service and about 1,800 miles of driving, we're averaging 15.0 mpg. The GT managed 18.9 mpg over about 7,100 miles of driving. It's tempting to hope our R/T's fuel economy will improve as the engine continues to break in, but the 20 percent drop almost exactly mirrors the 19 percent difference in EPA combined ratings, so we're not holding our breath.

Our Durango's dance card is already filled with scheduled trips to antebellum Vicksburg, Mississippi, northern Canada, and numerous tailgate outings with the TEN party trailer in tow. We'll report on all its surprises, delights, and any potential foibles. In the meantime, if you're traveling in some sketchy foreign country and spot a nice Granite Gray Durango GT, send us a snapshot.

a car parked on the side of a road© Motor Trend Staff
2018 Dodge Durango 4 R/T
BASE PRICE $47,390
PRICE AS TESTED $51,970
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 5.7L/360-hp/390-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 5,426 lb (51/49%)
WHEELBASE 119.8 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 201.2 x 75.8 x 69.8 in
0-60 MPH 6.7 sec (est)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 14/22/17 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 241/153 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.16 lb/mile
TOTAL MILEAGE 1,678 mi
AVERAGE FUEL ECON 15.0 mpg

2018 Dodge Durango front three quarter in motion 06 1© Motor Trend Staff 2018 Dodge Durango front three quarter in motion 06 1
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