Originally Posted by JoeyD
Speaking for myself...
The steering IIRC was much "heavier", and the truck felt like it was "wider" than it is. (seemed like a larger turn radius than it should, etc.) But for me, it was not so much how it drove, but how I "felt" in the drivers seat. I remember not being able to get "comfortable" in it, no matter how I tried to adjust the seat. It's hard to describe really. I distinctly remember feeling that the driver's door was a couple inches too far away (so I could not use the sill or arm rest to sit my arm on.) It was just a feeling that the "space" was just not right.
Spot on with what I found as well.
It felt like it was designed for a guy twice my girth (from a seating perspective). I could not find a position to get comfortable while driving. The door was too far away, as was the center arm rest.
Driving it in a straight line, it was pure awesome (Sport). I chewed up and spit out cars left and right. That engine is a thing of beauty... but that was basically it. The Explorer handles poorly in a parking lot. It seriously feels like it's HUGE and at no point did I feel comfortable parking it.
The other issue we ran into is that the back doors were large, but also cupped at the bottom (rolling in at the bottoms to cup the body). This made it extremely difficult to get out of those doors without having a wide parking spot, or no car next to us.
I found the mechanisms to fold down the 3rd row annoying as well. Dodge did this right. Ford over complicated it in my view.
I also experienced the oddness that is MySync, it spazzed out a few times and would not leave the backup view while on a test drive, and completely locked up playing music (and set the volume to near max while doing so as we were flying down the highway... not cool).
Offroad, I think is where Dodge screwed up with the Durango. Stripping the V6 of a Hi/Lo gear box option was a bonehead move in my mind (the JGC V6 has Hi/Lo just fine, but no ELSD in the read Diff).
I'm also annoyed the didn't follow the Merc and allow an air ride option.
I guess they are saving these for the Grand Wagoneer and don't want to build in competition... still.. annoying.
My biggest gripe though is no CRD option. I ordered a JGC CRD that should be here any day now, but the Durango would have been a great candidate for it as well. Again, I think this is a Wagoneer thing.
At anyrate, despite these flaws, still loving the Citadel. So quiet, so smooth, so big and yet nimble for a girl of her size.
As for other rides that compare to the Durango/JGC, I've been playing with an Audi Q7 TDI... soooo nice. But soooo expensive comparatively. I also dinked around with a Highlander, a Pilot, and a Pathfinder (Oy... that poor thing), a BMW X5 xDrive 35d, Mercedes Benz 350 BluTech, and a Range Rover Sport. We did look at a Volvo XC 90, but I've had a few coworkers warn me that the drivetrain was garbage (a few coworkers reporting having a transmission swapped out every 40k).
I found, in all honestly, the Highlander put up a decent fight (especially the Hybrid). But the interior was just not as nicely appointed as the Durango. Add in the fear of that battery pack checking out a few years down the road and having to suck up that expense killed that for us.
The Merc was nice as well, but, I just got rid of a E55. Mercs are nice, but, you need a trust fund to keep em fixed and maintained (typically in that order I've found with the 3 I've had). Plus, the price point was pretty gnarly as well (slightly higher than the Audi). That said, it was very well mannered on the road, very quiet, smooth (what you'd expect), and with the diesel, it had plenty of grunt (not as much as the Audi or BMW though). Decently maneuverable (akin to the Durango, slightly tighter with more feedback in the wheel). Quieter than the Durango on the road with a slightly smoother ride (I suspect due to the air suspension).
The BMW was a magnificent thing for eating up the road. SOOOOOO much power in that twin turbo diesel. But, I found the ride a little harsh compared to the Merc, Audi or Durango. Tire slap was mildly intrusive into the cabin as well. I thought it handled the best though (extremely nimble). However, the 3rd row was a joke. It was like sitting on a park bench. Very little thigh support and clearly, and afterthought (it's where you'd send people you don't like, and never want to make eye contact with ever again, to).
The Pathfinder.. yeah... no. Just... no.
The Pilot was "ok". It felt older though, something in need of a refresh, and no where near as nice inside.
The Range Rover was... mmm... so nice. But WAY the hell overpriced. That said, I'd slate it more in the JGC grouping than in the Durango. The Range Rover is clearly meant to go offroad if you want (God help you if you scratch that though.. holy hell, ya think offroading in a $50k JGC is bad, try a $90k Range Rover). None of these in this list would I consider "Offroad". They can drive on dirt roads, but would probably be flummoxed by anything moderately challenging.
I digress, for 3rd row SUV I think the Durango is the best pick due to the features, the price point, and overall functionality you get out of it.
But that's me, your mileage may vary.