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Old 04-16-2016, 07:28 PM   #1
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Dodge Durango - first impressions

After three seasons towing with our Honda Odyssey, it was time for a new vehicle. The Honda went to a new home, and we started researching our next vehicle.

We ended up settling on the Dodge Durango. Six to seven seats (we've got six), 4WD, based on the same platform the Mercedes GL class and the Jeep GC are using, fully independent suspension and an 8 gear transmission, we were confident this would be a great family vehicle.

After checking in with Andy from CanAm, he highly recommended both the six and the eight cylinder versions, we started looking. Soon after, we found an excellent deal on a R/T model with the HEMI engine, a lease buyout of a 2014 model.

Last Friday, I drove up to London to have the factory hitch strengthened, a brake controller installed and to pick up our trailer from winter storage. The way back to our storage facility was about 200 km (120 miles) in sunny, slightly windy conditions.

To those familiar with the area, I avoided the 401 and 403 and took rural Highway 2 instead to put the rig through its paces on winding roads and rolling hills.

The Durango handles the trailer with power and authority. It is slightly less communicative than the Honda had been and has access to considerably more torque, nice on hills and traffic lights. While cruising at 55mph, the big 8 cylinder engine was ticking along at 2000 rpm, in 6th gear - out of eight available. The Honda would also cruise at 2200 rpm, in fifth gear - out of six available. Fuel efficiency was somewhat worse than the Honda would deliver, but by a surprisingly small margin.

With the Hensley Hitch and the fresh water tank full, the rig handled beautifully, up and down hills, across railway crossings. The only time I took it very slowly was down a very steep slope with a tight turn at the bottom - nasty at the best of times and not somewhere you want to get caught cold with a trailer.

Conclusion? I very much enjoyed the rig. The extra power is nice, over my old vehicle, but the stability is about the same. If you're looking at a GL, a Jeep or a Durango, I recommend them.





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Old 04-16-2016, 11:13 PM   #2
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Andreasduess,

I agree the Durango is a great tow vehicle, especially with the 5.7 Hemi. We don't tow anything near your 34', but it certainly has the power to do so and a great transmission with the 8 speed and paddle shifters.

Bill
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Old 04-17-2016, 08:01 PM   #3
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Dodge Durango - first impressions

Congrats on new vehicle. No surprises to read what you've posted.

Is the upper speed limit as low as I am guessing from your post? Or, just the smaller roads?

It's a surprise to me, still, that in western Texas --even on a road with no shoulders -- that one may be allowed 75-mph.

Of course, one can see oncoming traffic 7-15 miles ahead. Farther in some counties. "Curvature of the earth" is what crosses ones mind.
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Old 04-17-2016, 08:22 PM   #4
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Been towing a 25' with my Durango for two years and a 20' before that. Very happy with it.
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Old 04-17-2016, 08:31 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by slowmover View Post
Congrats on new vehicle. No surprises to read what you've posted.

Is the upper speed limit as low as I am guessing from your post? Or, just the smaller roads?
The speed limit on most rural roads is 80km/h, about 50 in miles. It's generally safe to push that to about 60, but anything faster and the constabulary doesn't like it much. It's also Mennonite country, and there's no need to frighten the, frequent, horses so I tend to keep to the speed limit.

On the main highways, the speed limit is 100km/h, with most people pushing that to about 120km/h.
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Old 04-18-2016, 06:12 AM   #6
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new tow vehicle

Andreas

I just finished sending you a message when I found your thread and photos about the Durango. Congratulations, and I hope you have many years of exploring with the new tow setup.

As I mentioned in my private message to you, I have the Mercedes GL350 up for sale, and am now towing with a GMC Savana 3500 with a diesel engine. My first impression is that the van will handle the trailer well, but I KNOW I will miss the AWD.

All the best.
Neil
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Old 04-18-2016, 07:06 AM   #7
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Andreas

I just finished sending you a message when I found your thread and photos about the Durango. Congratulations, and I hope you have many years of exploring with the new tow setup.

As I mentioned in my private message to you, I have the Mercedes GL350 up for sale, and am now towing with a GMC Savana 3500 with a diesel engine. My first impression is that the van will handle the trailer well, but I KNOW I will miss the AWD.

All the best.
Neil
Hey Neil

Sorry to hear that the Merc didn't work out. We actually, briefly, looked at vans as well, but they don't fit our garage, or even the alleyway leading to our garage. I'd be interested to learn how it performs, I know the MaliMish crew loved theirs.

I'll pm you our camping plans for the summer, maybe we'll bump into each other. We're planning on being out a fair bit, but we also just bought this beauty, s/v Fearless, on Saturday, so there's a bit of competition for time now.

She's a 1967 Jenson Marine California 30 in close to mint condition. I'll have her brought to her new home on the Toronto Islands for late April, early May. Year one, with the kids still being very young, she'll be more of a weekend cottage than anything else, but next year I am hoping to take her cruising.

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Old 04-18-2016, 08:29 AM   #8
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new boat

Andreas

You are going to be a busy fellow. Were it not for the weekend traffic, I'd suggest keeping her near where I live on Georgian Bay, then you have access to some of the best fresh water cruising/sailing to be had. Add the North Channel to your list of future destinations.

But truly, to get more use out of your new sail boat, Lake Ontario is the place to sail.

What a summer your family has ahead of it!

Neil
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Old 04-18-2016, 12:53 PM   #9
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I was thinking of a late model Durango to tow a 23FB or a 25 (neither TV or trailer purchased yet, but looking). I had some concern over hitch weight, until I saw that Andreaduess is pulling a 34!

So the topography around Toronto is only a little more variable than the surface of a pool table. Does anyone have any experience towing a 6000 - 7000 lb trailer around the Rockies or similar mountainous terrain with a hemi-equipped Durango? My local AS dealer warns me that I'll be disappointed in the performance at local elevations and grades.

Thanks in advance to the Forum!
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Old 04-18-2016, 01:13 PM   #10
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Airhead,

It is hard for me to understand why you would be disappointed with an newer Durango with the 5.7L hemi and 8 speed transmission. You might be disappointed with V6, however. We have been from So Cal to Albuquerque, SW Utah and Farmington NM with the Durango and our 1954 Liner (about 6000 lbs) without issues. You can't climb a 12,000 ft pass at 70 MPH, but then probably shouldn't (my opinion only).

Bill

Quote:
Originally Posted by Airhead59 View Post
I was thinking of a late model Durango to tow a 23FB or a 25 (neither TV or trailer purchased yet, but looking). I had some concern over hitch weight, until I saw that Andreaduess is pulling a 34!

So the topography around Toronto is only a little more variable than the surface of a pool table. Does anyone have any experience towing a 6000 - 7000 lb trailer around the Rockies or similar mountainous terrain with a hemi-equipped Durango? My local AS dealer warns me that I'll be disappointed in the performance at local elevations and grades.

Thanks in advance to the Forum!
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Old 04-18-2016, 02:57 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airhead59 View Post
I was thinking of a late model Durango to tow a 23FB or a 25 (neither TV or trailer purchased yet, but looking). I had some concern over hitch weight, until I saw that Andreaduess is pulling a 34!

So the topography around Toronto is only a little more variable than the surface of a pool table. Does anyone have any experience towing a 6000 - 7000 lb trailer around the Rockies or similar mountainous terrain with a hemi-equipped Durango? My local AS dealer warns me that I'll be disappointed in the performance at local elevations and grades.

Thanks in advance to the Forum!
Keep in mind that my 1984 34' is the lightest model ever built, weighing in at a svelte 6250# empty, 7500# ready to camp. The tongue weight is around 10%, with WD in place our vehicle carries just over 500#.

The Hemi engine had zero issues accelerating up the, admittedly modest in size, hills that I encountered - I actually drove faster up these than I normally would, to get an idea of what the Durango is capable of.
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Old 04-18-2016, 03:15 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andreasduess View Post
-- snip --- She's a 1967 Jenson Marine California 30 in close to mint condition. -- snip -- with the kids still being very young, she'll be more of a weekend cottage than anything else, but next year I am hoping to take her cruising.
Boats make nice smiles, just like Airstreams. Don't spend too many nights as a cottage. Sailing is a great way to grow up with a fine sense of responsibility. Cal makes great boats. They keep going and going. As the kids get older, they may find tipping a bit stressful. Suggest you tell them about the troll named Keel that keeps the boat from turning over. Keel is a good crew mate, but he grabs toys that fall in the water, so you have to keep them in the boat.

Good luck with your new toys. Travel safe. Pat
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Old 04-18-2016, 03:17 PM   #13
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Nice outfit. Can't comment on the vehicle but we had the engine in our Ram 1500 with 6-spd trans, excellent power, nice torque range, and reasonably easy on gas when towing and very good solo.

We were test driving a new Durango Hemi the same day we bought our new Ram. It's what we had in mind, but they wouldn't deal on them at all because they are selling well and apparently the supply is limited. They had over 200 Rams for sale with more on the way with great incentives, discounts, zero interest rate, and great trade-in allowance. We bought the Ram, very happy with it as well.
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Old 04-18-2016, 03:25 PM   #14
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Does anyone have any experience towing a 6000 - 7000 lb trailer around the Rockies or similar mountainous terrain with a hemi-equipped Durango?
Yup. Did it last year and doing it again this year. NY to Oregon, Idaho, Montanna, Wyoming.
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