2013 Dodge Durango R/T AWD

2013 Dodge Durango

Horace and John Dodge started building auto parts in 1900 (for Ford and Oldsmobile), and fifteen years later went into full-fledged auto production.  Dodge Brothers Corporation came to that decision when brother John became, in his own words, “tired of being carried around in Henry Ford’s vest pocket”.  Dodge became part of Chrysler Corporation in 1928 and Chrysler has since 2011 had an alliance with Turin, Italy’s Fiat.

Of my several dozen cars and trucks owned over the years, only one was a Dodge.  I think it was a 1975; a half-ton van that I owned for about two days.  When I got home with it my next door neighbor suddenly decided he had to have it so that he could start a plumbing business; hence I sold it to him.

Also, I have vivid memories of my brother’s 60’s-vintage Coronet 440 with a 383 V-8 and 3-speed column-mounted manual transmission.  It was particularly fast and on one occasion I took a high school friend for a ride so that I could show him how easily it “pegged out” at 120 mph.  On this night it seemed sluggish while accelerating past the 110 mph mark, at which time buddy Bruce suggested I should trying putting it in third gear.  My tale of brother Vince’s Dodge brings to mind the 1958 hit “Beep, Beep” by the Playmates, in which the driver of the little Nash Rambler is unable to get his car out of second gear while going 120 mph.

My latest brush with Dodge was this last week when I received a 2013 Dodge Durango R/T AWD to test.  The Durango is a full-size SUV built on the Jeep Grand Cherokee platform (since 2011) and with the R/T you get a 5.7 liter, 360 horsepower V-8 with 390 ft.-lbs. of torque.  It came in Maximum Steel metallic clear coat and had the R/T specific black leather interior.  The transmission was a six-speed automatic and fuel economy ratings were 13-city and 20-highway.  I drove to Denver and back with the Durango and registered 19 mpg, and for the week observed a 16 mpg reading.  The hemi engine features cylinder-deactivation to enhance the economy.  And of course the R/T features all-wheel drive with a 2-speed transfer case for extreme 4 x 4 situations.

The R/T Durango is next to the top of the lineup with a base price of $38,595.  Options on the test vehicle included a technology group for $1,595, two leather interior packages for $2,090, navigation system for $795, and second row captain chairs and console for $1,095.  Thus, total M.S.R.P. including freight came to $45,165.  It was loaded with tilt/telescope, 6.5” nav screen, power mirrors/windows/locks/seats, proximity keyless entry with pushbutton starting, heated buckets, adaptive cruise control, blind spot/cross path detection, seating for six, and Sirius satellite radio.  The backup camera was on hand as was a park assist warning system.  Red “R/T” stitching was on the seatbacks of all four buckets.

Exterior styling of the big Durango was understated – 20” pretty alloy wheels with Goodyear Fortera 265/50R20’s, dual chrome exhausts, big monochrome crossbar grill, self-leveling high intensity headlamps, and fog lamps.  The sound (inside and outside) was in accord with the all-business looks – a constant hemi rumble.

Driving to Denver’s Auto Show in the Durango was pleasurable with a superb ride and lane guidance.  The car feels big (and is, at 5,300 lbs. and 200” overall length); this reviewer wouldn’t mind looking at one at trade-in time.

2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport RWD Sedan

Lexus at Phoenician II

    This past week I was presented a 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport four-door sedan for testing while travelling in and around Phoenix, AZ on a working vacation.  It was painted Starfire Pearl (white) metallic and inside it was trimmed in black perforated leather.  Of course, the car seats five comfortably because the LS (M.S.R.P. $81,990) is big, with a wheelbase of 116.9” and an overall length of 200”.  Weight is 4,400 lbs.

Boy, did the LS operate with a great deal of aplomb on the turnpikes in the Valley of the Sun!  It had the blind spot monitor, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, navigation (12.3” screen!), 10-speaker Lexus stereo with satellite radio, Bluetooth, Lexus Enform app suite, and power tilt/telescope (and heated) steering wheel.  All the windows powered up or down (out of sight), the mirrors folded in when the car was locked and of course a proximity key fob and pushbutton starter button were on hand.  The front buckets were superb and adjustable in 16 (driver) and 12 (passenger) ways.  Also, the embossed (F Sport) headrests powered up or down, just like the windows.  Aluminum trim is present in the cabin on door panels, dash, and on the pedals, as well.  Stitched leather was all over inside, including some real fancy door panels.

The engine for the LS with rear-wheel drive is a 4.6 liter, 386 horsepower V-8 with a fuel economy rating of 16-city, 24-highway, and 19-overall miles per gallon.  Behind it is an eight-speed sequential-shift automatic transmission with manual control-capability and steering column-mounted paddle shifters.  I’ve never driven a car with such a transmission – a truck, yes, but not an automobile.  It provided silky-smooth acceleration, and reportedly the LS will go zero to sixty in 5.4 seconds and top out at 130 mph.  The F Sport rides .39” lower than the standard LS on an air suspension setup, but provides a fun, somewhat aggressive handling package, particularly when Sport S+ mode is selected on the console.

As mentioned, the finish of the car was a striking, metallic white and up front resided LED lighting for day or night attention.  The grill is a specific F Sport blacked-out egg-crate design in the new six-sided Lexus manner, and big air intakes surround the front fog lights.  Taillights have three “L’s” molded within each, and an appropriate amount of chrome is all around the car.  The  wheels were 19” split-ten-spoke forged alloys by BBS surrounded by 245/45R19 summer radials.  Behind them could be seen the big Brembo 14.8” ventilated disc brakes.  They provided plenty of Whoa! to go with all the Go! The twin exhausts puffed out of two sculpted chrome finishers molded into the rear fascia.

As a car to enter into freeway traffic in America’s sixth largest city on a weekday, I cannot think of a better choice than the 2013 Lexus LS460 F Sport.  For dropping off the wife in front of the toney El Chorro Restaurant in Paradise Valley to have dinner; same car.