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Car Review: 2015 Dodge Durango

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2015 Dodge Durango R/T Blacktop

By Frank S. Washington
NNPA Columnist

 
CHICAGO (NNPA) – We drove a 2015 Dodge Durango here from Detroit and navigated around the Windy City for about 10 days.

There was some apprehension, not with the Durango but with fuel consumption. Our tester was powered by a 5.7-liter V8 HEMI and immediately the price of gasoline during a 10 day-stay came to mind. After all, this HEMI made 360 horsepower, 390 pound-feet of torque and the Durango was all-wheel-drive.

However, the engine was mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, it had what the company called fuel saver technology, only four of the eight-cylinders would operate when less power was needed, and the all-wheel-drive system was rear-wheel-drive based. That helped handling and performance.

Our R/T model had a sport-tuned suspension but it wasn’t harsh. We barely noticed any bumps or sways on the way here or after we arrived. And the truck-like ride of some full-size sport utilities was nonexistent on Interstate 94 as well as the surface streets and expressways here. The Durango tracked true; we never had to adjust the steering wheel to keep it in place.

It had what is quickly becoming old-fashioned rack and pinion steering that was hydraulic, not electric. Hydraulic steering gave us a much better connection to the road. The front suspension was a short and long armed affair with coil springs, as well as gas-charged, twin tube shock absorbers. And in the rear, the suspension was multi-link with coil springs, twin tube shocks and an aluminum lower control arm.

What’s more, fuel consumption was not bad – for a V8. Our Durango had an EPA rating of 14 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. In real world driving, we added about 1,000 city and interstate miles to the odometer of the test vehicle and gassed up four times; that included a full tank when the vehicle was delivered. Out of pocket fuel cost was less than $100; that is pretty affordable for a 10-day trip that involved a lot of daily driving.

The Durango was a three-rowed sport utility. We folded the third row and loaded two duffle bags onto the flat cargo floor and tossed in a second jacket for good measure. The 17.2 cu. ft. of storage space with those third row seats folded just swallowed the bags and we could have stored a couple more.

Dodge’s large sport utility has always had a muscular look but it has been contemporized. Our test vehicle had LED daytime running lights and Xenon headlights. Dodge said the front lights had leveling technology that would adjust for “slight” changes in elevation.
We had the R/T model and it featured body colored front and rear lower fascias, wheel flares, a revamped horse collar grille and sill moldings. The R/T’s ride height was lowered 20 mm and it featured 20-inch aluminum wheels.

In the rear, the Durango had Dodge’s LED “racetrack” taillight design that is also on the Charger and the Dart. It is a seamless ribbon of light. Large dual exhaust tips were standard on our V8 powered Durango. It looked racy, even in winter which is when we test drove it.

Dodge has done a nice job upgrading the interiors of all of its vehicles. The Durango featured a dial gear selector that created a clean look and a lot of space on the center console that was not there before.

There was a leather interior with French stitching and an 8.4-inch touch screen. Our test vehicle had the latest version of Uconnect; there was an SD card slot, a USB outlet and auxiliary jacks. Heated seats and a heated steering wheel were much appreciated during what we thought was the last arctic blast of winter.

There was a 7-inch TFT screen between the odometer and the speedometer. Dodge said it could be customized more than 100 ways to give the driver information.

We spent our time using the Durango’s Wi-Fi hotspot with the Uconnect app to play Pandora off of our smartphone. It was a little slow responding or switching stations but it was a more customizable alternative to the vehicle’s satellite radio.

Our test Durango was a good ride. It had a quality interior, stylish exterior, it was practical in terms of cargo area and seating adaptability; during white outs on the drive back the all-wheel-drive system gave a measure of security and the sticker was reasonable.

Base priced at $42,195, with options including a rear-seat entertainment system, a USB charging port, Uconnect with satellite radio and the navigation system, the total for our test vehicle came to $48,170.

 

Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.

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#NNPA BlackPress

NAMAD Honors James Farmer with Lifetime Achievement Award

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “I can remember at a NAMAD banquet there were two tables, maybe three at a conference of minority dealers,” he said. “But I watched it grow to the level that it is today with many [tables] and, to be in a position within General Motors and to assist the industry and see it grow, has been gratifying,” he said.

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Retired GMAC Vice President for Merchandising, Advertising and Communications James Farmer remains one of the fiercest advocates for the Black Press in the automotive industry. The NNPA honored Farmer with the 2018 NNPA Torch Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service for over 50 years in the Automotive Industry and Support of the NNPA.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

After a half-century in the automobile industry, James Farmer has certainly seen it all.

And, after receiving a lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD) earlier this month, Farmer took time to reflect.

“I’ve seen this industry grow – and grow for African Americans,” Farmer said.

“I can remember at a NAMAD banquet there were two tables, maybe three at a conference of minority dealers,” he said. “But I watched it grow to the level that it is today with many [tables] and, to be in a position within General Motors and to assist the industry and see it grow, has been gratifying,” he said.

Farmer has set the example for many inside and outside of the automobile industry.

He earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in marketing from Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio in 1967 and, after nearly 10 years in advertising, sales and marketing at the Airtemp division of the Chrysler Corporation, he began his career with General Motors at the former Delco Products Division in Dayton, Ohio, in 1976.

He held a number of key leadership positions at GM including: Group Director of Communications for GM’s Small Car Group in 1994; Group Director of Public Relations and Communications, GM North American Sales, Service and Marketing in 1998; General Director Marketing and Constituency Communications with GM’s Worldwide Communications Group in 1999; and Vice President of Merchandising, Advertising and Communications at GMAC until his retirement in 2004.

Even though Farmer retired as a vice president of GMAC in 2004, he remained committed to fostering positive business relationships between the Black Press and the auto industry.

“Jim Farmer has done so many great things, solved so many problems, and he’s bridged so many gaps for our industry,” said Damon Lester, the president and CEO of NAMAD, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that’s dedicated to developing strategic relationships and advocating for the advancement of business policies and practices that ensure diversity and economic parity remain a priority in all aspects of the American automotive industry.

“His value goes well beyond his tenure at General Motors,” Lester said.

“His character and integrity are legendary and no matter what the issue was, no matter how dire the situation, he could pick up that phone and call a Rev. Jesse Jackson or a Rev. Al Sharpton or someone and have a dialogue with them and get their perspective and come back to everyone else with some sort of middle ground that was fair for all parties,” Lester said.

“He has a heck of a legacy,” he said.

Farmer, who also has been honored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA, The Black Press of America) with the organization’s prestigious Torch Award, Legacy of Excellence Award and Lifetime Achievement Award, recalled his youth when he sold EBONY and Jet magazines and the Cleveland Call and Post newspapers.

He said that’s where his connection to the Black Press began.

“I grew up with it,” said Farmer, who remains an advocate of the Black Press.

“James Ellis Farmer is the epitome of more than a half century of career excellence in the automotive industry,” NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., said.

“The Black Press of America via the NNPA salutes Jim Farmer for his outstanding global leadership,” Chavis said.

Farmer was appointed to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities under President George W. Bush where he traveled the world as a cultural ambassador.

A member of the Board of Advisors at the Harvard School of Divinity Summer Leadership Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in Washington, DC, Farmer also served on the National Board of Advisors Development Team, planning the commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University, Washington, DC.

Farmer also has presented the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in France, Vietnam and India, and most recently in China, as part of a Global Cultural exchange program with the U. S. Department of State and the Theolonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

However, Farmer’s passion has always been in the auto industry.

“My career has been gratifying,” he said.

“I do remember the unfortunate economic conditions that befell the country and the automobile industry, and we saw a drop off in automobile dealers – a dropping of Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saturn,” Farmer said.

“That meant that it affected a number of dealers of color who had franchises,” he said.

Now that the economy is steady, or some would say robust, Farmer said he’s hoping that more young people of color will look to own dealerships.

“There are opportunities at GM and other places and the time is right,” he said.

“Today, it’s so diverse. I remember when GM, Ford and Chrysler had more than 90 percent of the market. Today, they collectively might have 40 percent.”

“So, in the auto industry these days, people have to have diversity. Not just in color, but in thought because we have cars today that we didn’t have 50 years ago, and I also remember when there were only about six black dealers [nationwide] and now GM has 50,” Farmer said.

With that, it’s important to capitalize on the opportunities available, which was a lesson Farmer said he learned when he was a child.

“I am one of 14 kids and my mother and father were married for 61 years and they raised us with the idea that, when much is given, much is expected,” Farmer said.

“So, when you’re blessed, you have to share those blessings and that is just basic philosophy and it’s kind of a religious belief that I have always had during my years at Chrysler and GM,” he said.

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