Ace of Base: 2018 Dodge Durango SXT 4×2

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In Monday’s QOTD (which garnered more comments than any other post in recent memory – for this, we thank you) I opined that a base Durango would be my selection given a sudden bank error of $34,000 in my favor and a command to buy something that’ll last me the next 10 years. I also enjoyed some of your selections, by the way.

Digging into the Durango’s build-and-price tool, I found more to like than expected. No, it’s not the best of its range (that honor is reserved for the gonzo 475 hp SRT version) but it certainly makes a case for itself compared to non-‘roided out Durango SUVs.

By the way, did you know the Chevy S-10 used to have a Durango trim level? This brain remembers the word splashed along the S-10 flanks in a fantastic font, shown below in all its ‘90s glory.

The modern Dodge Durango is one of the better-looking large SUVs out there, with the traditional gunsight grille and an appropriate selection of colors beyond the greyscale. Power is made by the proven Pentastar V6, cranking out as near as makes no difference 300 horsepower while hooked to an eight-speed automatic. This allows a towing capacity of 6,200 lbs, a figure that eclipses a Ram pickup equipped with the same engine and economy-minded rear end gears. One should pick up the $995 towing package if they plan to do heavy hauling.

Uconnect remains one of the better infotainment systems around, with a logical layout and rapid responses. FCA sees fit to endow the base Durango with a 7-inch unit, to which I say: why not simply install the 8.4-inch screen? I’m sure some bean counter in a stuffy, windowless conference room has a deck of PowerPoint slides to explain why. Nevertheless, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on board.

Push button start, leather-wrapped wheel, and fog lamps are all evidence that the Ace of Base shopper can benefit from economies of scale. These items are generally reserved for higher-spec machinery, after all. Switch blanks inside a car are one thing. But sad black plastic covers the holes where fog lights are supposed to be? That’s advertising to the world you’re a cheapskate. Not kosher at all.

Base Durango machines have seating for five, binning the third-row and leaving real-world space for all of life’s flotsam and jetsam. A trio of vividly-named colors, something that’s become a hallmark at Dodge, are offered gratis in addition to the boring greyscale. Blu By You, Redline, and Octane Red Pearl are all nods’n’winks to folks who remember when the company slathered their hot rods with eye-popping paint.

Why select the Durango over its Grand Cherokee cousin? The GC also looks the part, and may even hang onto a few more dollars of value thanks to the residual glow from the Jeep brand, but I think the Dodge packages its interior better, particularly ahead of the gear lever. That’s one of the t-handle units, not a rotary dial.

It’s no 425 hp SRT, but a $29,995 Durango SXT puts forth enough kit and color to make the Ace of Base grade.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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