How Safe Is the Dodge Durango?

The Dodge Durango hasn’t been redesigned since it adopted its eight-speed automatic transmission in 2014. Nothing much has changed in the five trims except that the R/T has either a chrome HEMI front fender badge or a matte black badge depending on how it’s equipped. The Durango also has a premium interior group and 20-inch gloss black wheel design if you get the Blacktop package.

Even without across-the-board updates, the Durango remains one of Fiat Chrysler’s top sellers for consumers wanting good looks and performance. But the standard safety package may leave consumers wanting.

Not yet rated by the IIHS

The independent, nonprofit educational Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests each new vehicle for safety by administering six different safety tests: moderate overlap front, driver-side small overlap front, roof strength, head restraints/seats, and passenger-side small overlap front and side tests.

The IIHS hasn’t tested the 2020 Dodge Durango, relying instead on its ratings for the 2011 and 2015 models and on the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Durango is derived from the Cherokee, and the main difference between them is that the Durango has a longer body length to accommodate its three rows of seats.

Despite not testing the 2020 Durango trims, the prior overall safety ratings are good, but “marginal” ratings in the driver-side small overlap front and headlight tests keep it from becoming a top pick this year.

The NHTSA’s safety ratings

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration differs from the IIHS not only in its rating system but also in what safety aspects of the vehicle it tests for. The IIHS tests for roof strength while the NHTSA tests for rollover safety.

Only two of the three 2020 Dodge Durango SUVs on the market have been rated: the four-wheel and the rear-wheel-drive models. The Durango has received a four-star overall safety rating since 2017, but its 4WD rollover rating remains a consistent three stars despite its well-hyped Electronic Stability Control and Electric Roll Mitigation. The Durango’s 2WD rollover rating ranks with four stars. Side crash tests consistently rated five stars.

The Dodge Durango’s standard safety features

The Dodge Durango’s base safety features haven’t changed in nearly a decade. There’s still no comprehensive standard safety package, but there are plenty of options to ramp up the safety factor for 2020.

The Durango has adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go automatic vehicle monitoring, but it still has a slow steering response. It has a blind spot monitoring system and various brake assists to help you better stop in rain or when you’re in panic mode and brake suddenly. It also has front-to-rear electronic brake force distribution, which means that your braking distance is regulated no matter what load you’re carrying.

Engine problems while driving were a chief complaint for prior trims. The many 1999, 2004, and 2005 engine issues have since been resolved. During the 2019 model year, the NHTSA received just seven consumer complaints and 39 Technical Service Bulletins, mostly for engine and powertrain issues.

The Dodge Durango – a performance classic

2016 Dodge Durango is on display at the 108th Annual Chicago Auto Show
The Dodge Durango | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Never Buy a Dodge Durango From This Model Year

The Dodge Durango is a midsize SUV that drives like a large SUV, and you get the mileage to prove it. Since not much has changed since 2011, you’ll find that the 2020 Durango trims still seat five to seven passengers, have the best towing capacity of the midsize SUVs on the market today, and have an optional V8 engine that will haul the most adventuresome family toys.

The Durango’s standard V6 engine returns a respectable 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, but you’ll sacrifice mileage for power if you opt for the V8, returning 14 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. Still, if a good-looking performance SUV is what you crave, the 2020 Dodge Durango is a solid midsize SUV consistently selling about 75,000 units each year.

It’s not Fiat Chrysler’s best-seller, but it’s more than respectable – and it looks like some platform changes might be on the horizon for the 2021 Durango that may be a game-changer.