This is a far more loaded question than it seems. Well, for most, there’s no comparing one of the best SUVs money can buy with one of the oldest SUVs currently for sale in the country. Thing is, there are numerous arguments in favour and against both.
There was a time not so long ago when the Porsche Cayenne set standards only to break them over and over. The Cayenne once stood for the best of the best where performance, technology and luxury came together. And this applied from the most basic trim and on.
I’ve driven the current E3 3rd generation a few times and I’m able to report that it’s an impressive truck in all respects. It simply no longer stirs the soul as it once did.
At perhaps the very other end of the SUV spectrum lies the Dodge Durango. From the onset, it was meant to do a job which is a family vehicle with a typical outward Dodge attitude. Many years later, FCA opted to please the SUV-crazed masses with the outrageous SRT version. With all the right enhancements, the Durango went from bland-ish and old to super cool.
Understandably, cross-shopping between the Porsche Cayenne and Dodge Durango SRT is highly unlikely as the convey very different messages about the owner and driver. They do, however, match up almost perfectly price-wise. The base 2020 Cayenne retails for $76,700 while the Durango SRT is priced at $74,995. In this respect, they are very similar, but could not be more different.
This comparison is designed to shine a light on what the money gets you, this is not a Dodge vs. Porsche comparison.
Powertrains And Driving
This is a battle between refined power and brute force.
The Cayenne is powered by a single-turbo 3.0-litre V6 that produces 335-horsepower and 332 lb.-ft. of torque. It is connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission and to Porsche’s Active AWD system. The SUV weighs 4,500lbs and will reach 100km/h in 6.2 seconds.
Over in the Durango SRT’s corner and under its bonnet, you’ll find a naturally-aspirated 6.4-litre V8 which is good for 475-horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque. It too is matched to an 8-speed automatic transmission and a rear-biased AWD system. This lug tips the scale at 5,500lbs and snaps to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds.
We are clearly dealing with two different animals but the Porsche’s low-end torque almost makes the Cayenne feel spritely at first once the still unfortunate throttle delay is bypassed. The name of the game for the Cayenne is refinement, and generally speaking, discreet motoring. The new Porsche Cayenne is about relaxed and smooth commuting. The Durango SRT is a rumbling volcano from start-up, that evolves into a full eruption the moment throttle is applied. Despite this, it can behave. The problem is that the noises, the vibrations and the harshness from the drivetrain poke and prod the driver to misbehave.
As road vehicles, both SUVs are quite civil. This is no surprise for the Cayenne which, with a revised suspension and weight loss over the previous generation, will glide over surfaces as well as handling with the best of them. The ancient Durango gives up very little as far as comfort despite its dedicated SRT-tuned suspension with adaptive Bilstein dampers and more aggressive rubber.
These trucks differ mostly by the fact that the Cayenne now focuses more on the luxury factor than the driving experience – it’s not the fun Porsche SUV it once was. The Durango, on the other hand, is an unapologetically brutish redneck SUV that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about anything else than having a good time.
Design And Life Onboard
Here’s where the money is spent.
It’s difficult to fault the Dodge Durango – it is, after all, more than 10 years old. Even so, the big Dodge’s exterior shape and style have aged gracefully. If you knew nothing about cars and SUVs, you could be easily convinced that the Dodge was penned only two years ago. This is in large part a testament to FCA’s (Dodge and Jeep mostly) design team’s vision and ability to combine timeless or time-defying styling with modern touches.
Porsche also has this ability. The difference lies in the Cayenne’s subtly powerful lines which do not require racing stripes to capture attention. Actually, the new Cayenne does not make heads turn – it sits regally as a luxury SUV. Of all Porsche products, the flagship SUV is the least likely to let its hair down. This is mighty appealing to those who wish to project the Porsche lifestyle.
Life onboard is equally different – day and night actually. The Durango once more shows its relative age however the ergonomics are spot on. Uconnect 4 remains an excellent infotainment system and the 8.4-inch display screen still rivals the majority of the competition.
In the Porsche, you’ll find lovely materials, more attention to detail, a larger 12-inch display and an aura of luxury that cannot be duplicated in the Durango even if the Dodge has a few extra standard amenities. The centre console with Direct Touch Control and its glass look touch-sensitive buttons looks and feels high-end.
Porsche paid special attention to the new Cayenne, especially its interior presentation. The base Cayenne accounts for 50-60% of all Cayenne sales. By comparison, the SRT represents but a small fraction of Durango deliveries.
Our Thoughts On The 2020 Dodge Durango SRT vs. 2020 Porsche Cayenne
The real question is where would we turn if we suddenly had $75,000 to spend on an SUV. The answer is multi-stepped.
First, if we were at Porsche, we’d be more inclined to get a new Macan S with a few options or a sublime GTS for roughly the same money.
Second, we wouldn’t get the base Cayenne. The Cayenne S, at $94,100, is more our speed. We could not, however, leave it well-enough alone and in an instant, we’d blow by $100,000 and would still not be done.
And third, we’d get the Durango SRT. Pound-for-pound, buck-for-buck, the Durango SRT is more fun, stirs the soul, provides all the desired amenities (yes, without the fanciness) and is roomier. Now, our tester was a solid $88,500 with options but we’d configure it for about $4,000 less (no need for a sunroof or the 19-speaker audio system but we’d keep the racing stripes and the rear entertainment system.)
There’s no doubt that these two SUVs are aimed at very different customers but, you know, we’re trying to be helpful.