Dodge Durango 2009 Detail Specification Video Reviews

From $28,130
Powerful V8 engines, generous towing and cargo capacities, simple interior controls, hybrid model’s fuel economy and power.

Poor gas mileage of regular models, cramped second-row legroom, rough ride, numb steering, subpar interior quality, hybrid sticker shock.

The big news for the 2009 Dodge Durango is the addition of a hybrid model that combines V8 power with V6-like fuel efficiency. For the regular Durango line, the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 makes more power for 2009 with no fuel-economy penalty, thanks to cylinder deactivation. Sirius Backseat TV is now included with the rear-seat entertainment system. The Adventurer trim level has been discontinued, while the SXT trim level is renamed SE.

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Truck-based chassis. Fifteen mpg combined fuel economy. Less passenger space than a big crossover. With all of that going against it, the 2009 Dodge Durango is looking like a dinosaur in the final moments before that comet smacked into Yucatan. A new “two-mode” hybrid model is a last-minute attempt to adapt to a changing climate, but it seems unlikely to sway many people interested in purchasing an SUV.

The current-generation Durango debuted five years ago, and it follows the traditional SUV playbook with a body-on-frame design (rather than the increasingly more common carlike unit-body design of crossover SUVs) and rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. This rugged construction lends itself better to towing and off-roading. Among midsize and full-size SUVs, the Durango is a “Goldilocks” choice: bigger than choices like a Ford Explorer or Nissan Pathfinder, but smaller than something like a Chevrolet Tahoe. It’s also one of the most powerful choices you’ll find. Its optional Hemi 5.7-liter V8 engine cranks out an impressive 376 horsepower. As expected, fuel economy is pretty dismal, though this big V8 features cylinder deactivation technology, helping return fuel economy no worse than the Durango’s smaller V6 and V8 power plants.

For the best fuel economy, there is the new-for-2009 Dodge Durango HEV hybrid. Utilizing so-called “two-mode” hybrid technology co-developed by General Motors, BMW and the company formerly known as Daimler-Chrysler, this powertrain features a detuned version of the Hemi, plus a pair of potent electric motors and a trick transmission with variable gear ratios, which maximizes the efficiency of both power sources. The result is combined fuel economy of about 20 mpg, a 5-mpg increase over a regular 5.7-liter V8-equipped Durango. Unfortunately, all that hybrid hardware jacks the Durango’s price up by approximately $5,000 over the similarly equipped non-hybrid Limited trim level. Even after federal tax credits, it could take years to recoup the cost purely through fuel savings.

The Dodge Durango is really only a viable choice for those who need loads of family space and the ability to tow heavy objects. And if that’s the case, the bigger Chevy Tahoe is a better pick anyway. Meanwhile, newer crossover vehicles like the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Flex and Mazda CX-9 offer more passenger-friendly accommodations, the same or more cargo capacity and good fuel economy. The Durango Hybrid matches them in the last regard but is considerably more expensive. Overall, we think most SUV shoppers will find something better suited to their needs than a 2009 Durango.