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2003 Dodge Durango

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2003 Dodge Durango
Available in 7 styles:  2003 Dodge Durango 4dr 4x4 shown
Asking Price Range
Estimated MPG

12–14 city / 17–19 hwy


2003 Dodge Durango 4.0 23
$ 1,159-7,887
January 24, 2003
Posted on 12/9/02
Vehicle Overview
Dodge’s sole offering in this segment straddles two sections of the sport utility vehicle market. The Durango isn’t considered too big or too small. It is larger than most midsize SUVs, such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but it falls short of a true full-size model. With its V-8 engines and optional eight-passenger seating, Dodge’s SUV challenges full-size models like the Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford Expedition. Billed as the “right size” by Dodge, the Durango promises full-size SUV roominess combined with compact-level maneuverability.

The Durango is available in Sport, SLT, SLT Plus and high-performance R/T forms; the entry-level SXT edition joined the lineup for the 2002 model year. The Durango’s 2001 sales dipped by 24.6 percent to 130,799 units, as reported by Automotive News. Changes for the upcoming model year will likely be modest, but Dodge has not yet released details on changes for 2003.

Optional curtain-type airbags for the front- and second-row seats deploy from the ceiling. Based on the company’s Dakota pickup truck, the Durango debuted for the 1998 model year and is due for a redesign.

The four-door Durango’s styling is the same as the Dakota’s from the windshield forward. The Durango rides on a 116.2-inch wheelbase and measures 193.5 inches long overall. The R/T edition includes performance shock absorbers, a limited-slip differential, a performance-oriented axle ratio and 17-inch tires on cast-aluminum wheels.

The Durango seats as few as five occupants or as many as eight, depending on the seating configuration. Two front bucket seats and a three-place second-row bench are standard, which accommodate five passengers. In order to fit eight passengers, a three-place bench replaces the front buckets and an optional two-place third-row seat is added. The middle and rear seats fold flat for a maximum cargo volume of 88 cubic feet. A DVD backseat entertainment system is available as an option.

Under the Hood
A 235-horsepower, 4.7-liter V-8 is the base engine; it drives a five-speed-automatic transmission. A 250-hp, 5.9-liter Magnum V-8 that teams with a four-speed automatic is optional. The Durango comes with either rear-wheel drive or one of two four-wheel-drive (4WD) systems. Standard 4WD cannot be used on smooth, dry pavement, but the optional 4WD system is a full-time unit. Both systems may be engaged with a dashboard-mounted switch.

Antilock brakes are standard.

Driving Impressions
As a rule, SUVs aren’t supposed to sound like Dodge’s sporty, performance-oriented Durango R/T edition. It emits lushly gurgling exhaust notes that would befit a sports car, and it sounds like it’s ready to lunge into space. While it’s reasonably vigorous, the Magnum V-8’s engine performance falls a bit short of what one is led to expect from that muscular sport-tuned sound out back. On the positive side, the R/T’s automatic transmission reacts promptly and smoothly for passing.

The Durango is essentially pleasing all around, but it isn’t quite as friendly to the driver and occupants as the Ford Explorer. The Durango’s steering is easy and little correction is required, but it’s not quite as precise as that of some SUVs. Because the Durango sometimes feels like it’s ready to lean excessively if speed is increased, the driver may have a tendency to slow down around curves a little more than necessary. Even though the rear seatbacks aren’t very tall, the SUV’s appealing seats offer excellent support and firm but comfortable cushioning with plenty of space for the driver and passengers.

Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com
From the cars.com 2003 Buying Guide

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