Dodge expands the lineup and adds a new V-8 engine for the Durango, a mid-size sport utility vehicle based on the Dakota pickup truck. Durango was launched for the 1998 model year as a larger alternative to compact SUVs such as the Chevrolet Blazer and Ford Explorer and, with its available V-8 engines, as a new challenger for full-size SUVs such as the Chevrolet Tahoe.
A high-performance R/T model joins the Durango lineup this spring with a firmer suspension, 17-inch wheels and tires, and a 5.9-liter V-8 engine. Appearance items include body-color wheel flares and leather and suede interior trim.
Durango seats as few as five and as many as eight. An optional two-place rear seat and three-place front bench can augment a pair of front buckets and a three-place middle bench. Both the middle and rear seats fold flat for a maximum cargo room of 88 cubic feet.
Styling on the Durango, which comes only as a four-door, follows that of the Dakota pickup from the windshield forward. A new Sport trim comes standard with aluminum wheels and an intriguing color palette that includes chili pepper and patriot blue.
Under the Hood
A 235-horsepower 4.7-liter V-8, which debuted last year on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, replaces a 5.2-liter V-8 in Durango's lineup and teams with a new electronic automatic transmission. A 3.9-liter V-6 with 175 horsepower is the base engine and a 5.9-liter V-8 with 250 horsepower is the top engine choice. Durango comes with rear-wheel drive and a choice of two four-wheel-drive systems, one that can be used on smooth, dry pavement and one that can't.
Durango attracts buyers from the compact and full-size SUV markets by offering V-8s and nearly full-size interior space in a more manageable exterior package that is competitively priced.