The car has decent pick-up for its size. The 5.9 litre V8 offers more punch, but the 4.7 accelerates well and has decent fuel economy, I average 17+ MPG combined city/highway driving. Braking and handling is decent for a vehicle the Durango's size, a Grand Cherokee handles better on the road.
The Durango does very well off-road. The larger tires on the SLT are excellent for sand and loose gravel. The suspension is very true to its Dakota frame, so the ride is stiff and sometimes the Durango wallows over larger bumps. The 4X4 engages quickly and without the need to shift into neutral.
I have read a number of reports indicating that the Durango is an unreliable vehicle. I purchased mine used with 54000 miles. It was a dealer return under a state lemon law. The engine had been cutting out randomly. The dealer flashed the engine computer and the problem has not returned in the 30000 miles I have driven the car. I have performed all scheduled maintenance in the manual and the car has been very reliable.
The Durango is a comfortable vehicle, the leather seats don't support the lower back completely, but they fit taller passengers well. The rear seat is comfortable for all but the tallest passengers. The third row seat is meant for smaller people. You would not even know the seat is there when it is folded down, and the trunk space is quite large. There is also a small compartment in the trunk for keeping emergency supplies, very convenient. The many A/C outlets are also very helpful.
Overall, the Durango is a very solid utility vehicle that is capable off-road and rivals larger vehicles in cargo and passenger capacity. I prefer the pre-2004 Durangos because they manage to be mid-size SUV's that offer the utility of larger vehicles. The 2004-present Durangos are too large and do not differentiate the Durango from other vehicles at all.