The Durango Pursuit has an intimidating presence. Part of that is the more aggressive front fascia on 2019 models, guarded by tusk-like push bars. If we’re honest, it oversells the vehicle’s performance a tad. See, modern police vehicles don’t typically get special engines (the Ford Police Interceptor—nee Explorer—being the notable exception). Under the hood of this angry-looking Durango, the 5.7-liter pushrod V-8 develops the same 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque as a civilian Durango. With more and more departments actively discouraging high-speed pursuits due to the risk involved to the officers, public, and suspect, it’s more than enough.
Armed with an eight-speed automatic and standard all-wheel drive (with an honest-to-goodness two-speed transfer case), the Pursuit hits 60 mph from its hiding spot behind the billboard in 6.5 seconds and runs a 14.9-second quarter mile at 93.2 mph.
For context, that’s almost identical to the performance of a civilian 2018 Durango 4 R/T AWD V-8 we tested (this one trapped traveling 0.2 mph quicker). For more context, a 2018 Toyota Camry V-6 hits 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and will do a 14.3-second quarter mile at 99.6 mph. Before you consider running from the cops, however, you should keep in mind that no matter how fast your car is, you can’t outrun the cops’ radio. We strongly recommend against testing that axiom.
The Pursuit’s performance is actually impressive in a way, because it’s been outfitted with all those lights and sirens and whatnot. Despite that, this Pursuit weighed in at 5,351 pounds, about 80 pounds lighter than that civilian Durango we tested. Because the Pursuit starts life as a base trim level, it’s got cloth seats, the smallest infotainment screen available, and a very short list of options, all of which save weight. On top of that, Dodge removes the third-row seat and uses the hole it leaves to mount all the electronic hardware for the lights, siren, two-way radio, etc. Of course, this demonstration vehicle is not fully kitted out. There’s no laptop or two-way radio installed, no radar, no gun rack, no rear seat partition, and none of the loose gear cops carry in their cars like flares and such. A fully dressed vehicle with a fully dressed officer aboard is likely to come in a bit heavier than the civilian model, which may affect performance depending on how much heavier it actually ends up being.
Even factoring in equipment weight, you won’t need to worry about the braking. Although modern cop cars don’t really get “cop engines” anymore, they do still get “cop brakes” and “cop suspension.” Even with tires that aren’t anything special (and only speed-rated to 118 mph, officers), the Durango Pursuit stopped from 60 mph in 122 feet, 12 feet better than Dodge advertises and 5 feet better than the civilian model. More important, it’ll do it over and over thanks to Pursuit-only heavy-duty brakes and new cooling ducts integrated into the 2019 fascia. Our instrumented testing is not kind to brakes, especially not those on 5,000-plus-pound vehicles; and although the Pursuit’s got quite stinky, they never faded.
“Cop suspension” in this case means load-leveling Nivomat shocks and a “performance-tuned” suspension setup. In actuality, it handles exactly the same as the civilian model. In numbers, the Pursuit pulls 0.79 average g on a skidpad and runs a 27.5-second lap on our figure eight at 0.63 average g. The civilian Durango managed 0.80 g on the skidpad and a 27.4-second lap at 0.64 g, statistically equal.
In terms of driving dynamics, you won’t notice the difference. There hasn’t been enough weight added or the weight balance hasn’t been affected enough to make the Pursuit drive any differently than a fresh-off-the-lot consumer model. It defaults to rear-drive to save gas and is already among the best-driving vehicles in its class, with good body control and a pleasant ride. Throw it into corners like you’re filming a chase scene, and the rear end will rotate just a little before the stability control, which can be muted but not defeated, steps in. Then it’s just midcorner understeer followed by decent corner exit as the front axle starts pulling its weight. At the end of the day, it’s still a 5,000-plus-pound SUV—”performance-tuned” suspension be damned—but it’ll also drive circles around the Chevy Tahoe Police Pursuit Vehicle your department bought.
I mentioned saving gas, and for the fleet managers in the audience, I’ll bring it up again. The V-8 Durango Pursuit is rated at all of 14/22 mpg city/highway, so check your department’s budget and make sure it’s well funded. If you can live with “only” 293 hp and 260 lb-ft, the also all-wheel-drive 3.6-liter V-6 is rated at a city-council-budget-committee-friendlier 18/25 mpg city/highway. The six-cylinder Durango Pursuit starts at $36,476, with our V-8 loaner coming in at $39,142.
There’s really only one other area in which the Durango Pursuit needs improvement, and that’s the cupholders. The drop-in plastic unit this steel center console comes with just doesn’t cut it, good only for holding fast-food to-go cups.
|2019 Dodge Durango Pursuit V-8|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$39,142|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||5.7L/360-hp/390-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||5,351 lb (53/47%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||201.2 x 75.8 x 70.9 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.5 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.9 sec @ 93.2 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||122 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.79 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.5 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||14/22/17 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||241/153 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.16 lb/mile|