Crossing Over: Dodge Durango and Chevrolet Orlando
Practical transportation is essential for modern urbanites. Sure, that desire for a sexy sports car may hang like a painting in your mental rear-view mirror, but for those morning car pools, after-school soccer practices and weekly grocery runs, you’ll need something more pragmatic. Depending on your taste and lifestyle, these two crossovers provide plenty of utility.
Dodge Durango Citadel
When it was first launched in the ’90s, the Dodge Durango was a burly, quintessentially manly SUV that didn’t even know the meaning of fuel economy. Today, that machismo has been refined and wrapped in a tuxedo.
Like a linebacker at a formal gala, the all-new design of the 2012 Citadel retains the imposing qualities of early Durangos while exuding fresh sophistication. Its muscular curves ripple under its handsome suit as it poses with both athletic aggression and gentlemanly cordiality. It’s an absolute head-turner of power and luxury that is right at home on the job site or an evening affair.
Swapping the truck-based body on-frame of its forefathers for a unibody chassis, the Citadel shares the same architecture with the Mercedes-Benz ML and GL SUV – the benefit of a past partnership with Daimler-Benz. The ride is quiet and sturdy, and with rear- and all-wheel drive available, it won’t shudder when encountering rugged conditions. Unlike car-based crossovers, and even with its adopted unibody chassis, the Citadel is very capable in off-road situations.
Under the hood, it comes standard with a 3.6-Litre V-6, which sips 13 L/100 kilometres in the city and 8.8 L/100 km on the highway. Pushing out a respectable 290-horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, drivers will enjoy best-in-class power, towing and fuel economy.
A 360-hp V-8 Hemi is also an option for those craving more brawn. With variable valve timing and cylinder de-activation/multi-displacement that switches between four and eight cylinder operation, this 5.7-L isn’t a pig, either.
Once you open its doors, the Citadel exhibits its softer side. Nappa leather seats with detailed stitching add further refinement, while sound-deadening insulation keeps outings quiet. Seven-passenger seating provides plenty of room for family and friends, and when the back row is folded down, there’s more than ample cargo space. You’ll also find first-class features such as heated seats and steering wheel, 8-way power seating, power sunroof, forward collision warning, media centre with a 6.5-inch touch screen, hands-free voice command; and GPS navigation.
All this extravagance comes with a price: over $50,000 for the base model. Its bulky size isn’t ideal for navigating crowded streets or tight parking lots either, and may feel oversized to those unaccustomed with SUVs. If size, style and strength are what you’re after, the Citadel delivers it in spades. www.dodge.ca
Chevrolet Orlando LTZ
While the Citadel is certainly a striking fellow that provides both power and indulgence, it may seem a bit superfluous to more reserved drivers. If pure practicality is what you crave, Chevrolet offers a compact, economically priced, seven-seat solution with the 2012 Orlando LTZ.
Meant to replace the HHR and its sluggish sales, this multi-purpose vehicle is Chevy’s new venture into compact crossover territory. It fills the gap left by the Uplander, Chevy’s discontinued minivan; and is a direct challenge to Kia’s Rondo and the Mazda5.
Brimming with reserved and respectable charm, this well-groomed, functional ride is ideal for city living. Its compact design grants greater manoeuvrability and allows for easy entry and exit. Its three rows of seats happily fit seven, and when the third row is folded down you’ll find generous storage space.
Up front, the dash’s modern trimming complements the comfy seating, while excellent visibility provides an unhindered view of the road. Due to the third row of seats, however, the view through the rear isn’t the best, but its rear-parking assist is there to compensate. The ride is also quite gentle, cabin noise is minimal and handling is adequate for city streets.
The downside is that it isn’t overly large, there are no sliding doors or power tailgate, and you’re limited to the same 4-cynlinder, 2.4-L engine from the base model of the Chevy Equinox. While fuel consumption is light – 10.6 L/100 km in the city and 6.9 L/100 kilometres on the highway – and the 174-horsepower engine is quite peppy, it can labour when you really give it gas, and it may feel underpowered with the extra weight of several passengers.
Despite its shortcomings, the Orlando LTZ hits all the right marks in terms of compact size, fuel economy and utility. Starting at $28,000, it’s an affordable alternative to pricier SUVs: a practical crossover for practical people. www.gm.ca