It’s the third-generation Dodge Durango, and it marks the nameplate’s return from the sabbatical it took for the 2010 model year.

Built on a lengthened version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s unibody platform

instead of the old body-on-frame underpinnings of its forebears

the Durango retains a rear-drive layout, but a full-time all-wheel-drive system as tested here is an option on each of the five trims

We’ve already tested an entry-level rear-drive V-6 Durango and an all-wheel-drive V-8.

This is our first go with the more affordable all-wheel-drive and V-6 combo.

The Durango’s chassis delivers impressive dynamics

At 5068 pounds, the SUV tested here is far from light, but it handles twists and turns with a fluid ease, remaining flat and composed as it challenges the laws of physics.

Unlike most others in this segment, the Durango’s steering offers a good degree of feel, and the same can be said for the brake pedal.

Not only is the Dodge an agile machine; its ride, even on this example’s optional 20-inch wheels, was comfortable and well damped.

We noted some dissatisfaction with the 20s worn by the V-8–powered R/T we previously tested

but without the stiffened and lowered suspension of that model, the 20s were not a problem.

Our only real gripe came with the five-speed automatic transmission, which is in dire need of at least one more forward gear.

Durango drivers need a heavy right foot to keep the tranny in a low gear and keep things moving.