Dodge Gives Hybrid Durango SUV A Second Try

A hybrid version of Dodge’s Durango SUV is coming in 2020. Considered the “muscle car” of SUVs, the Durango has seen solid 65,000 a year sales for years. Coming into its tenth year of production in its current form, the Durango was in need of something new to keep pace with the previous year’s numbers.

In the three-row SUV segment, only the Toyota Highlander and Acura MDX offer hybrid systems. The Lincoln Aviator and Mitsubishi Outlander offer plug-in versions. Now Dodge can market it to either end of the market. Both those looking for a high-performance SUV or families looking for a more economical three-row SUV.

Durango hybrid can expand on the Pentastar V6s combined 21 mpg

2020 Dodge Durango SRT
2020 Dodge Durango

Currently, the Durango’s fuel efficiency numbers are 26 mpg Highway and 18 mpg City with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. The combined mileage is 21 mpg. The hybrid will be able to expand those numbers significantly.

The hybrid system to be used in the Durango will be a variation of the eTorque system from the Ram 1500 and Wrangler according to Automotive News. It is not a full hybrid system but one that gives some additional boost at startup. It avoids costly motors and battery packs of full hybrid units.

What is eTorque and how will it affect the Durango?

“Combined with the stop/start system eTorque can increase fuel economy which is always the biggest drawback to vehicles of this size,” says Sam Fiorani with AutoForecast Solutions. The eTorque system eliminates the traditional alternator that charges a vehicle’s electrical system. Instead, it uses a 48-volt battery-powered, belt-driven motor generator to aid performance, efficiency, payload and towing. 

“Allowing a big three-row utility vehicle to be more fuel-efficient is an advantage and differentiator in this segment,” he says. “Family haulers by definition guzzle gas. If you can find a way to make it drink just a little bit fewer buyers will notice.”

The Durango was available for a very short time as a hybrid in 2009. The Chrysler bankruptcy and subsequent closing of the Delaware assembly plant stopped Durango hybrid assembly. 

This will be Durango’s best sales year.

2020 Dodge Durango SRT
2020 Dodge Durango SRT

This year has seen record Durango sales. It is the best year it has had since 2005. Before the merger with the PSA Group Dodge’s plan was for a refreshed Durango in 2023. That would mean the current version will have seen 12 years of production-a long time for any model . Especially in the hot SUV segment, Dodge has been fortunate to keep sales even for the last few years. 

At the opposite end of the hybrid SUV segment is the Durango SRT with a 6.4-liter Hemi V8. It produces 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. This easily tows 8,700 lbs when combined with the Trailer-Tow Group IV system. With that, you get a trailer hitch, trailer brake controller, and pin connectors. 

With the Pentastar V6 towing capacity drops to 6,200 lbs. 

2020 Dodge Durango Burnout
2020 Dodge Durango | Dodge