Are People Comparing the 2023 Dodge Durango to SUVs in the Wrong Segment?
The Dodge Durango is a stalwart of the SUV segment dating back to a time in which there was a Clinton in the White House and moviegoers had a simultaneous choice between Armageddon and Deep Impact for movies featuring an asteroid potentially ending all human life on Earth. But 25 years into its production, is the 2023 Dodge Durango now being classified in the wrong automotive segment as the SUV class is more competitive than ever?
Dodge and automotive publications disagree on the 2023 Durango’s size class
Pop over Dodge’s website — which expounds a sense that you must have testosterone pouring from your pores to even be considered worthy of driving one its beastly machines — and you’ll find the automaker lists the Dodge Durango as a full-size SUV.
This stands in contrast to a bevy of automotive publications that list the Durango as a midsize offering, including U.S. News & World Report, Car and Driver, and Motor Trend, all of which either list the Durango as midsized or directly compare/rank it to midsize models.
Though the classification of an SUV, or any model of car for that matter, could be considered mostly irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, it can have legitimate implications for how consumers and experts view the model in question.
Midsize or full-size SUV? The 2023 Dodge Durango dilemma
The Durango does straddle a line between the mid- and full-size SUV classes. The Durango is notably smaller than the full-sized Ford Expedition—it’s about 10 inches shorter, about eight inches narrower, and offers less passenger space in all three rows.
However, the Dodge is also significantly larger than the three-row, midsize Kia Sorento, which offers 102 less horsepower, five cubic feet less cargo space behind the rear seats, and is a full 11 inches shorter overall than the Durango.
Then again, the Durango nearly mirrors the spec sheet of the Kia Telluride, the venerable three-row SUV that Kia and leading automotive publications list as a midsized offering.
The Durango and Telluride offer nearly identical power, ground clearance, and front passenger space. They are closely aligned in overall size, cargo capacity, and, at least in their base forms, price.
Does a vehicle’s size class matter?
It’s not hard to fault Dodge too much for marketing the 2023 Durango as a full-size SUV. After all, whether it’s viewed as a midsize or full-size SUV has genuine consequences.
The midsize SUV segment, even those with three rows, is awash with options. And when compared against its rivals, the Durango doesn’t stack up well. Criticsr faults the Durango for its lackluster fuel efficiency, Edmunds says it lacks refinement, and few reviews speak highly of the standard model’s driving dynamics. But downsides like a thirsty engine and mediocre handling are expected in the full-size SUV class. These faults can also be said of the Expedition or Chevrolet Tahoe.
It also stands to reason Dodge’s marketing of the Durango as a full-size offering can be attributed to how buyers view the model. Not all car buyers are privy to the long list of options within the flooded midsize SUV market or the less-crowded but nonetheless model-filled full-size SUV segment.
Someone simply searching “best midsize SUVs” is likely to find the Durango far down the list, but if the Dodge is tallied in the full-size category, the availability of options is far shorter, and it would stand out more.
Not all consumers may be willing to go down in size for the Dodge. Still, if the automaker can get its SUV compared directly against models like the Expedition, it has several appealing factors, like its looks, available power and, particularly, its price. The Durango starts at just over $40,000 MSRP while the Expedition, Nissan Armada, Toyota Sequoia and other full-size models command over $50,000 in their base trims.
So yes, size does matter—as does classification. But it appears Dodge’s attempts to place the Durango in the full-size category is more about marketing than its actual size and capabilities.