2018 Dodge Durango vs. 2017 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Compared to metal, the Durango’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid has a metal gas tank.

Both the Durango and the Highlander Hybrid have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras, available all-wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, front and rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Dodge Durango is safer than the Toyota Highlander Hybrid:

 

Durango

Highlander Hybrid

 

Driver

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

144

195

Neck Injury Risk

34%

47%

Neck Stress

251 lbs.

509 lbs.

Neck Compression

26 lbs.

73 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

427/350 lbs.

409/517 lbs.

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

24%

32%

Neck Stress

85 lbs.

219 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

404/224 lbs.

387/392 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Dodge Durango is safer than the Toyota Highlander Hybrid:

 

Durango

Highlander Hybrid

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

25

54

Hip Force

220 lbs.

348 lbs.

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

35 G’s

41 G’s

Hip Force

266 lbs.

440 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

14 inches

16 inches

HIC

129

372

Spine Acceleration

39 G’s

43 G’s

Hip Force

666 lbs.

829 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

There are almost 2 times as many Dodge dealers as there are Toyota dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Durango’s warranty.

Engine

The Durango’s standard 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 260 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. ) than the Highlander Hybrid’s 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid. The Durango Dual Exhaust’s optional 3.6 DOHC V6 produces 260 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. ) than the Highlander Hybrid’s 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid. The Durango’s optional 5.7 V8 produces 54 more horsepower (360 vs. 306) and 390 lbs.-ft. more torque (390 vs. ) than the Highlander Hybrid’s 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid.

Fuel Economy and Range

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Durango V8’s fuel efficiency. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

The Durango has 7.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the Highlander Hybrid (24.6 vs. 17.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Durango V8’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Highlander Hybrid:

 

Durango V6

Durango V8

Highlander Hybrid

Front Rotors

13 inches

13.8 inches

12.9 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

13 inches

12.2 inches

The Durango V8’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Highlander Hybrid are solid, not vented.

The Durango stops much shorter than the Highlander Hybrid:

 

Durango

Highlander Hybrid

 

70 to 0 MPH

176 feet

187 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

120 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Durango has larger tires than the Highlander Hybrid (265/60R18 vs. 245/55R19).

The Durango’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Durango offers optional 20-inch wheels. The Highlander Hybrid’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

The Durango offers an optional full size spare tire so a flat doesn’t interrupt your trip. A full size spare isn’t available on the Highlander Hybrid, it requires you to depend on a temporary spare, which limits mileage and speed before replacement.

Suspension and Handling

The Durango has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Highlander Hybrid’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Durango offers an optional automatic rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

The Durango has vehicle speed-sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Durango’s wheelbase is 10 inches longer than on the Highlander Hybrid (119.8 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

The Durango’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (50% to 50%) than the Highlander Hybrid’s (46.6% to 53.4%). This gives the Durango more stable handling and braking.

The Durango R/T handles at .79 G’s, while the Highlander Hybrid Limited pulls only .75 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Durango’s turning circle is 1.6 feet tighter than the Highlander Hybrid’s (37.1 feet vs. 38.7 feet).

For greater off-road capability the Durango has a greater minimum ground clearance than the Highlander Hybrid (8.1 vs. 8 inches), allowing the Durango to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Passenger Space

The Durango has .4 inches more front headroom, .2 inches more rear headroom, .2 inches more rear legroom, 1.9 inches more third row headroom and 4.8 inches more third row legroom than the Highlander Hybrid.

Cargo Capacity

The Durango’s cargo area provides more volume than the Highlander Hybrid.

 

Durango

Highlander Hybrid

Behind Third Seat

17.2 cubic feet

13.8 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

47.7 cubic feet

42.3 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

84.5 cubic feet

83.7 cubic feet

The Durango’s cargo area is larger than the Highlander Hybrid’s in almost every dimension:

 

Durango

Highlander Hybrid

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

20”/50”/83”

17.5”/43”/80”

Max Width

49”

56”

Min Width

42.5”

45.6”

Height

36”

32.6”

Payload and Towing

The Durango’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Highlander Hybrid’s (6200 vs. 3500 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is only 3500 pounds. The Durango offers up to a 7400 lbs. towing capacity.

The Durango has a higher standard payload capacity than the Highlander Hybrid (1380 vs. 1340 lbs.).

The Durango has a higher maximum payload capacity than the Highlander Hybrid (1460 vs. 1340 lbs.).

Servicing Ease

The Durango uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Highlander Hybrid uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

The engine in the Durango is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Highlander Hybrid. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

The Durango GT/Citadel/R/T has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Durango GT/R/T/Citadel’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Durango’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge – which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The Highlander Hybrid does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The power windows standard on both the Durango and the Highlander Hybrid have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Durango is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Highlander Hybrid prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

On a hot day the Durango’s driver can lower the front windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Highlander Hybrid can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Durango’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Highlander Hybrid’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

When the Durango with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Highlander Hybrid’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Durango offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Highlander Hybrid offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Model Availability

The Durango is available in both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Recommendations

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Durango second among midsize suvs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Highlander Hybrid isn’t in the top three.

The Durango is ranked first in its class and received the 2015 “Total Quality Award.” The Highlander Hybrid is not ranked.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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