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There are few things able to make auto critics giddy with excitement like witnessing the complete turnaround of a popular vehicle that has been down on its luck. Things have not gone well for Dodge Durango when it comes to reliability for quite some time. The 2020 Dodge Durango represents a significant improvement in this SUV model.

Dodge was successful in combining design features, family-friendly amenities that add to a new fun-to-drive experience. Reviewers can finally report with some confidence that the 2020 Dodge Durango is finally a good SUV.

Durango has a reputation for mediocrity

A green 2020 Dodge Durango on display at an auto show
The 2020 Dodge Durango | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Though it is painful to take a look at past short-coming, highlighting Durango’s reputation for mediocrity only enhances how far this model has come. It is no secret that the 2004 model was scraping the bottom of the barrel among Dodge Durango offerings, but nearly every model year leading up to 2020 has had its share of crippling drawbacks.

Past pain points for Dodge Durango are numerous. There is only time to list a few of its most notable pain points. In 2004, an issue with engine knocking and an occasional blowing rod became a major concern that continued to plague the Durango as well as issues with the remote entry key-fob causing ignition issues.

Dodge did not adequately address previous engine issues such as rough idle and stalling that continued to cause problems from 2007 to 2011. Transmission sticking, suspension issues, and climate control system odors appeared in 2008 models, continuing through 2011 with customers still reporting them along with ignition and electrical issues along with the transmission getting stuck in park.

59 recalls of Dodge Durango were issued in 2011. 97 recalls in 2015 set the record for Dodge Durango with owners reporting waterproofing issues in the lighting system, leading to electrical system shorts, faulty TIPM, and a significant problem with stalling while driving.

The 2020 Dodge Durango reverses the trend

After struggling to compete among midsize SUVs, the 2020 Durango received an 8.1 from U.S. News. Among its positive features are the availability of a more powerful V8, roomier and more comfortable seating, user-friendly infotainment system, and an above average reliability rating.

Upgraded performance is a highlight of the Durango changes. It appears that the 2020 Durango puts engine problems in the past with their standard 3.6-liter V6 engine, which is capable of producing 293 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.

Two V8 options, a 5.7-liter (360 hp, 390 lb-ft) and a 6.4-liter (475 hp, 470 lb-ft) provide buyers with a little extra power that was lacking in past models. Though fuel economy remains a little below average for its class, the 2020 model has an improved suspension system capable of providing a more comfortable ride on and off-road.

Improved safety features make Durango more family-friendly. Since midsize SUVs typically serve as family vehicles, safety feature upgrades are a priority for buyers in this class. The Durango received a superior rating by IIHS for frontal crash prevention and 5-stars from NHTSA on its side crash ratings.

Overall crash and rollover ratings improved to either a Good or 4-star rating on the 2020 model as well. Dodge also upgraded their list of standard safety features, providing improved passenger protection as well as driver-assist packages.

2020 Durango delivers value at a great price. Durango’s seating for seven, which has been a distinguishing feature among midsize SUVs, provides a little extra room for larger families or soccer moms. The availability of either a 5.7-liter or 6.4-liter V8 Hemi also adds value and sets the 2020 Durango apart among its competitors, making its $44,395 the best bargain available among SUVs in its class.

There is still room for improvement with the 2020 Durango

Though the 2020 Durango represents some significant turnarounds to the model there is still some room for improvement in a few areas in order to move up to the top spot in its class.

For example, poor fuel economy and sluggish handling downgrade its performance while marginal ratings for its headlights and small overlap driver frontal crash indicate that additional attention to safety is necessary.

The 2020 Dodge Durango is a good SUV

Though the 2020 Dodge Durango has not achieved the top spot among its competitors, its improvements have brought it a lot closer to the top than it has been for several years.

Performance and safety improvements demonstrate that a significant turnaround has occurred, allowing us to report that the Dodge Durango is finally a good SUV. We can hope the trend continues, bringing the once-popular Durango back to the top of the midsize SUV list.


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