By Sue Mead, Motor Matters

Sporting a lower price tag for 2013, the Dodge Durango Citadel offers seating for either six or seven, a modern exterior design and best-in-class towing for both its V-6 and V-8 engines.

Part of the new Durango lineup that returned to market in 2011 after a hiatus, this full-sized, special-edition SUV remains largely unchanged, but notably feature-packed for 2013. The "Citadel" trim is named for a military fortress and carries an understated yet prestigious look.

The trim-topping Citadel starts at $39,995, reduced by $1,000. Dodge starts its SXT base model Durango at $28,998, including destination.

The 2013 Durango Citadel cuts a muscular, angular profile that is softened by rounded edges encasing the front and rear bumpers. The grille, an all-chrome affair with prominent Dodge crossed bars, tops a low front air dam with integrated fog lamps.

Beefy shoulders meet a steeply raked windshield, and broad sides meet a bulbous rear end that is capped by a long, horizontal chrome strip and large, half-moon taillamps; the back end is punctuated by a bright-tip exhaust. A power sunroof and power rear liftgate are standard, as are 20-inch smart-looking chrome wheels and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

The standard engine is a 3.6-liter V-6 that is rated at 290 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. It is matched to a five-speed automatic transmission, or an optional six-speed. The rear-drive Durango comes with the option of an AWD system. The base motor is rated at 16/23 miles per gallon city/highway and has a towing capacity of 6,200 pounds with the trailering package. A V-8 delivers 360 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque and boosts the towing capacity to a hefty 7,400 pounds.

We drove the 2013 Dodge Citadel with the V-8 featuring a multi-displacement system that shuts down to four cylinders at highway speeds (when the vehicle is not under load). The SUV also benefits from a Fuel Saver Mode and variable valve timing. Its EPA rating is 14/20 mpg.

On the road, Durango is bolstered by a short/long arm front suspension and isolated multi-link rear suspension configuration, as well as anti-sway and roll bars to reduce that heavy lean into turns that marks the driving dynamics of so many SUVs -- especially full-sizers. In fact, one of the most impressive characteristics of the Durango is that it drives and rides more like a midsize model, with little to no roll feeling in the corners and no "porpoise" feeling on hard stops.

Four-wheel discs with ABS are standard and do a good job with stopping duties. Also standard are traction control, hill start assist, trailer anti-sway control, blind spot monitoring, front collision warning and rear back-up camera.

Inside the spacious and bright cabin is room for seven or, with the optional captain's chairs in the second row, six can go for the ride in more stately style. Front and second-row heated seats, power-adjusting driver and front passenger seats, and tri-zone automatic climate control make for a comfortable ride for the long hauls, with some degree of autonomy for temperature and airflow for the back-seat riders.

Standard upholstery on the Citadel trim is a buttery Nappa leather that is perforated in the front seats and on the steering wheel that is power tilt/telescoping and is heated; it also features integrated controls for audio, cruise and voice commands. The stereo is a nine-speaker Alpine system that integrates with the 6.5-inch touchscreen control center in the attractive front console; there are AM/FM/CD/DVD and MP3 capabilities, as well as Garmin GPS, voice commands and Sirius traffic service that can all be accessed through the screen.

The front console has storage for everything from cups to tissues; a second-row console is available as an option on models with second-row captain's chairs. The second and third rows split and fold to give way for extra storage and creative stowage; according to Dodge, it's big enough for a 6-foot couch to slide in for transport (not sure we'd opt to travel a long distance with a full-length couch onboard).



VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 6/7-passenger RWD full-size SUV

BASE PRICE____________________ $39,995 (as tested: $41,690)

MOTOR TYPE___________________ 16-valve OHV V-8 w/SMPI

DISPLACEMENT_________________ 5.7-liter

HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 360 at 5150 rpm

TORQUE (lb.-ft.)________________ 390 at 4250 rpm

TRANSMISSION_________________ 6-speed automatic

OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 199.8 in.

TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb):__ 37.1 ft.

CURB WEIGHT__________________ 5,397 lbs.

FUEL CAPACITY________________ 24.6 gal.

EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 14 mpg city, 20 mpg highway