What I admire about the Dodge brand is it openly admits it doesn’t want to be — or intend to be — all things to all people. It’s a performance brand with performance aspirations. So when the 2021 Dodge Durango updates came out a couple weeks ago, it was natural we latched on to the Hellcat news.
It was big news.
But on a recent call with Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger cars for FCA – North America, he said the Hellcat news “overshadowed other good stuff” on Durango. Namely, the interior gets a huge upgrade, and with the appropriate packaging, Durango will have best-in-class towing in more trims.
So, let’s start with the interior.
Durango gets Challenger-inspired flare with a sporty driver-focused cockpit and an info screen that is ever-so-slightly pointed toward the driver’s seat.
The instrument cluster is new, the door panels have been upgraded, and Uconnect 5 (think wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto) is now available. Additionally, a 10.1-inch screen has been added as an available feature.
The heated/ventilated seat controls also get hard-button controls (rather than being available only in the touch screen), and all trims will get both USB-A and USB-C ports. Wireless charging will also be available.
On the sport side, the R/T and GT trims will also get a flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Though I haven’t seen the 2021 Dodge Durango in person yet, the photos show off a more upscale look with attractive accent stitching and trim pieces. The Hellcat version will even get a red ignition button and forged carbon fiber finish on the center stack and dash.
Kuniskis said the changes are so dramatic that if you were blindfolded and lead to the driver’s seat, you’d never know you were sitting in a three-row SUV.
But the new Tow N Go Package, which is available only on the R/T trim, is all about SUV capability.
At a base level, the Durango can tow 6,200 pounds – this is the same as the 2020 model. But previously, you only got an 8,700-pound tow rating with the 6.4-liter V-8 and all-wheel drive, so basically only the top-tier SRT model.
Now the Tow N Go Package brings that capability down to a lower trim (and, likely, a significantly lower price point). It’ll add the SRT treatment for wheels, tires, Brembo brakes, flares, sills, exhaust tips and valance. Plus, it’ll add track, sport, snow and tow drive modes.
So, in addition to the 8,700-pound tow rating, the R/T with the Tow N Go Package will get SRT’s aggressive styling, an increased top speed of 145 mph, re-tuned SRT-performance exhaust, a new electronic limited slip differential and SRT active damping suspension.
All that with the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8.
And as Kuniskis point out during the call: This is better towing capability than both 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban. The max towing rating on those vehicles is 8,400 pounds and 8,300 pounds, respectively.
So, yeah, the Hellcat is cool and all – and it’ll also get the 8,700-pound tow rating – but it’ll probably cost around $90K, too.
Assuming the 2021 Dodge Durango pricing doesn’t go completely crazy and the package price isn’t ungodly expensive, you’re probably looking at around $55K for an R/T with Tow N Go.
The bottom line:
Dodge knows its customers, and it doesn’t really give two hoots about anyone else.
So, better interiors with a sporty flare and more capability makes a lot of sense for the Durango set. Best-in-class towing with three of its models – including a mid-grade model – is pretty darn cool.
Well done, Dodge.
The non-Hellcat models will start arriving in dealers this fall, and we’ll see the Hellcat Durango in early 2021.