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By Rick Popely
April 24, 2001
Vehicle Overview Dodge gives its midsize SUV a new dashboard and several new interior features for 2001. Durango is based on the Dakota pickup and straddles two segments of the sport utility market.
Durango is larger than most midsize SUVs like the Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chevrolet Blazer while challenging full-size models such as the Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford Expedition with its V-8 engines and optional eight-passenger seating.
Exterior Styling on the Durango, a four-door wagon, is the same as the Dakota pickup from the windshield forward. With an overall length of 193 inches, Durango is 10 inches longer than the Chevrolet Blazer and 3 inches longer than the Ford Explorer.
Interior The redesigned instrument panel includes new gauges, climate controls and a tilt-steering column with a greater adjustment range. A new floor console for models with front bucket seats includes three cupholders, an armrest and several storage bins.
Durango seats as few as five and as many as eight. An optional two-place rear seat and a 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 maximum cargo room of 88 cubic feet.
Under the Hood Durango comes only with V-8 engines. A 235-horsepower 4.7-liter V-8 is the base engine and teams with a five-speed automatic transmission. A 5.9-liter V-8 with 250 hp is the top engine choice and comes with a four-speed automatic.
Durango comes with rear-wheel drive or a choice of two four-wheel-drive systems. The standard 4WD system is the part-time type that can't be used on smooth, dry pavement, and the optional system operates full-time.
Both are engaged by a dashboard switch instead of a floor-mounted transfer-case lever.
Driving Impressions Durango attracts buyers from the compact and full-size SUV markets by offering V-8 engines and nearly full-size interior space in a more manageable, competitively priced exterior package. The 5.9-liter V-8 is more powerful, but the 4.7-liter engine is a newer design that is smoother, quieter and nearly as lively.