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Origin-story update: Remember our original 2017 Durango GT, which disappeared from an L.A. restaurant valet after just three months? It turned up almost a year later, intact but with its VIN altered and with 17,000 more miles on it. Somebody owes us notes and a fuel log. (It’s since been legitimately sold at auction with a clean Carfax.)
The SUV’s Michigan-based replacement soldiers boldly on. A particularly cold, nasty spring delayed the fuel-economy rebound that the end of remote-start season usually brings, but some long trips have helped inch our average up 0.3 mpg to 16.3. (The onboard computer still overestimates tank averages by at least 1 mpg).
Our trip computer requested the first maintenance stop at 9,448 miles. The oil-and-filter change, tire rotation, and inspections took 45 minutes, cost $77.90. It included an exterior wash and this inspection note: “Recommend slowing down around corners—tires scrubbed, showing slid sideways.” Yes, well, all in the name of science.
A trip to south-central Wisconsin to visit ancestral homesteads and check out Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin home and studio with my youngest sister Julie prompted exploration further than usual up the volume range of the Beats Audio system. This nine-speaker (plus sub), 506-watt system comes standard on R/T and SRT models or in a package on GT and Citadel. We were all impressed by its crisp clarity and by the clear spatial separation of the instruments. Less impressive is the FM reception, which crackles when tuned to a signal 40 miles from my home that other systems play clearly.
Two minor annoyances noted on this trip: when changing lanes to fall in behind a faster-moving vehicle, the automatic cruise control freaks out, muting the audio, beeping, and flashing the “BRAKE!” warning, despite the quickly widening gap. And memory seat positions can’t be recalled when in motion following a mid-road-trip driver swap.
Another curiosity: Navigating outbound through greater Chicagoland on a Thursday we used Waze, switching to the built-in nav for our Sunday return. Smartypants Waze always routed us through the manual toll lanes (perhaps knowing that because all Michigan roads are toll-free, we pay cash), while the Durango’s more soothing late-night DJ lady always suggested the EZ-Pass lanes.
With warming weather, as our Durango resumes its primary mission (hauling tools, materials, and free labor to and from the Markus lakefront dacha project) we chant: “17-mpg, or bust!”
Read more about our 2018 Dodge Durango R/T long-termer:
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