2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid new car reviews

This is a pretty awkward location to put rear window wiper controls.

Better than: A hybrid Tahoe
But not as good as: A diesel
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 28.70

When it comes to the concept of hybrid SUVs, we at GRM headquarters tend to have mixed feelings. On one hand, it makes sense to improve the efficiency of these big, heavy vehicles, since they're using quite a bit of fuel in the first place. On the other hand, we've yet to test a hybrid SUV that can achieve anything north of 20 miles per gallon—even with no load but the driver.

Sampling the new Dodge Durango hybrid forced us to change some of our thoughts. This vehicle left an impression from the very moment we turned the key and heard complete silence--from the get-go, the electric motor stood ready to handle most of our parking lot traveling. We just needed to mash the pedal to activate the full Hemi-powered experience, but we got a kick out of seeing how far we could go before engaging the gasoline portion of our hybrid power source.

When the changeover did occur, it happened without the clunks, bangs and lurching we'd found in some other hybrids. What's more, full-throttle acceleration felt downright brisk. Score one for technology; we'd take this driveline over the standard gasoline-only Durango any day. It's even rated to tow up to 6000 pounds.

Though it seems like the Dodge engineers got a lot of things right with the driveline, this only influenced a portion of the driving experience. The electric motors and batteries don't come without trade-offs, namely in price and weight. The Durango Hybrid tips the scales at a whopping 5600 pounds, and the additional heft was very apparent while driving. This heavy feeling was further amplified by the Durango's high center of gravity; we wonder if a shorter tire-and-wheel package and some stiffer suspension might have improved the feel.

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