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In today’s uncertain economic times, used cars can be affordable alternatives to new vehicles. But finding a dependable pre-owned model can be challenging. Take, for instance, the Durango. Several model years of Dodge’s midsize SUV cost less than $15,000. But which used Dodge Durango years are the most reliable in that price range? Below are two.

(Note: Regardless of a used car’s reliability score, always obtain a vehicle history report and have a trusted mechanic perform an inspection to uncover potential problems before purchasing. Also, prices may vary depending on trim level, mileage, overall condition, and location.)

Used 2012 Dodge Durango models are going for less than $10,000

2012 Dodge Durango Citadel: Reliable used Dodge Durango model years
2012 Dodge Durango Citadel AWD | Christopher Evans/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

The oldest of the three most reliable Durango years under $15,000 is the 2012 model. It earned a solid overall score of 80 out of 100 from J.D. Power. That includes a 77 in quality and reliability, an 85 in driving experience, and an 81 in resale value. The market research firm says people are paying $8,330 to $12,377 for used 2012 Durango models. However, finding a higher trim is preferable because those models have substantially better amenities.

The 2012 Durango is a seven-seat SUV with a 290-hp 3.6-liter V6 or a 360-hp 5.7-liter V8 Hemi. Rear-wheel drive is standard, although some models have all-wheel drive. Expect 85 cubic feet of maximum cargo space, Bluetooth, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and some trims with towing and convenience packages that add further features.

As for drawbacks, 2012 Durango owners have cited some common problems. notes that drivers have experienced TIPM system issues, many resulting in this model year’s 10 recalls. Other common complaints involve the engine, cooling system, fuel system, and transmission. If you’re considering a used 2012 Durango, look at the vehicle history to determine if the previous owner had the SUV adequately serviced and the recalls addressed.

The 2015 Dodge Durango has a better reliability score but a higher price

J.D. Power also gave the 2015 Durango an above-average overall score of 79. It earned a 79 in reliability, 82 in driving experience, and 76 in resale value. You’ll also need to look a little harder to find a 2015 Durango under $15,000. J.D. Power notes that people are paying between $13,766 and $23,302.

Dodge equipped the 2015 Durango with the same powertrain options as the 2012 model. But unlike earlier model years, the 2015 boasts an eight-speed automatic transmission, improving driveability. It also has good build quality, and the interior feels upscale relative to rivals. In addition, it has many standard tech features, such as three-zone climate control, a six-speaker sound system, and Bluetooth. Optional features include a rear seat entertainment system, AWD, and several advanced safety systems.

As for criticisms, CarComplaints users note issues with the 2015 model’s lights, engines, transmission, and electrical systems. However, there are hundreds fewer owner complaints about the 2015 Dodge Durango than the 2012 model.

The 2016 model has a below-average reliability score but might be worth considering

On paper, the 2016 Dodge Durango isn’t much different from the 2015 model. However, it earned a much higher driving experience score of 91 from J.D. Power, boosting its overall rating to 85. The market research firm hasn’t assigned a quality and reliability score to this model year, but U.S. News shows a below-average reliability rating of 2.5 out of 5.

The higher driving experience rating might be partly thanks to the 2016 model’s stop-start feature, which shuts the engine down when the vehicle idles to conserve fuel. Dodge also offered a Sport mode, which enhances driving performance.

Despite these changes, the Durango offers the same engine options as the 2015 model. The engine stop-start feature only comes with the 3.6-liter V6, though the V8 uses cylinder deactivation technology to help its fuel efficiency. The 2016 version also includes several features, like Bluetooth, a 7.0-inch instrument cluster, an 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen, and voice-activated controls. However, neither Android Auto nor Apple CarPlay came in this Durango model year.

As for owner-reported problems, CarComplaints doesn’t log many. The most — seven — involve issues with the exterior lights, specifically water intrusion shorting out the taillights. Though that’s a safety concern, it’s a less costly repair than many others that used car owners must contend with. And given the small number of complaints, it might not be one you would deal with if you got a 2016 Durango.

However, the 2016 model is a bit more expensive, ranging from $14,877 to $23,893.


3 of the Worst Dodge Durango Model Years, According to CarComplaints