Overweight, out of shape, a day late, and a dollar short - all describe the 2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid Limited 4WD. Like its Chrysler Aspen Hybrid Limited sibling, the Durango Hybrid Limited is a large, heavy (6,450 pounds), eight-passenger, full-time four-wheel drive (4WD) SUV that’s built on a truck platform and drives like it. The Durango Hybrid Limited packs a Hemi V8 to do the grunt work and a two-mode electric drive system to give owners at least marginal fuel economy.
The ’09 Durango Hybrid Limited is delivered with a 345-hp OHV, variable-valve-timed 5.7-liter Hemi V8 that combines with two 87-hp electric motors to deliver 385 total horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque, enough to tow up to 6,000 pounds with proper equipment. An electronic continuously variable transmission handles shifting power from the electric drive motors to the Hemi and back, but not without an often distinct lag in acceleration, especially when switching from electric to gas power. The electric drive motor is capable of powering the Durango Hybrid Limited up to 25 mph all by itself, but only for short distances. The Hemi runs on regular unleaded gas, and this big hybrid SUV gets an EPA-estimated 20/22 mpg. The two electric motors in the ’09 Durango Hybrid Limited, one a drive motor and the other powering systems, are fed by a 300-volt nickel metal hydride battery that is partially recharged by regenerative braking.
With the hybrid technology adding well over 500 pounds to an already heavy vehicle, the ’09 Durango Hybrid Limited’s suspension has been specially tuned to handle this extra beef. Even so, the Durango Hybrid handles like a truck - it's ponderous, with touchy steering and an often-mushy brake feel. Though its full-time 4WD is helped out by auto-locking hubs for more slippery conditions, the ’09 Durango Hybrid Limited isn’t designed for serious off-roading.
Despite its faults, the 2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid comes loaded with standard features, including 18-inch chrome alloy wheels, power-adjustable pedals and seats, dual-zone climate control, leather seating and trim, a power liftgate, a roof rack, remote power locks, power windows, and heated power mirrors, cruise control, a tilting and telescoping steering wheel, a backup camera system, dual-zone climate control, memorized driver’s seat and mirrors, a single-CD/MP3 player with 368 watts of power and nine Alpine speakers, Sirius/XM satellite radio, a hard-drive-based navigation system, Bluetooth technology, and a USB connection. All this leaves scant room for options, but these include a power sunroof, rear-seat video entertainment, and a Trailer Tow Package.
Standard safety features for the ’09 Durango Hybrid Limited 4WD include four-wheel disc ABS with emergency braking assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, traction and stability control, supplemental side airbags, side-curtain airbags for all three rows, dusk-sensing headlights, front fog/driving lights, a remote anti-theft alarm system, and rear parking sensors and a backup camera.
Owners of the 2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid Limited 4WD stress that gas mileage is fine around town, but not so spectacular on the highway. Little rear-seat legroom and ponderous handling are also mentioned by more than a few owners, with some wondering about the capability of the brake rotors to handle the awesome heft of this hybrid. By and large, however, most owners are happy with the Durango Hybrid Limited’s roominess, reliability, ride comfort, and standard safety features. The loads of standard comfort and convenience features, as well as the power and performance of the Hemi V8, also garner praise from many owners.