It’s fun to chart the changes through the years for the Durango, Dodge’s beloved sport utility vehicle. As customer needs and desires have evolved, so has the Durango.
Durango’s lineage can be broken down, roughly, into three generations. Generation one, produced from 1998 through 2003, was a ground-breaking, sturdy, midsized SUV with body-on-frame construction shared with the Dakota, Dodge’s highly acclaimed midsize pickup. Signaling its rugged, no-nonsense nature, in its first year the Durango was offered only in a four-wheel-drive version.
For ’99 both 2WD and 4WD drivetrains were offered, along with a full range of V6 and V8 engines. In 2001 Durango’s interior was thoroughly upgraded, reflecting the changing role of SUVs in American households—increasingly, these were now primary, everyday vehicles. Available features included dual-zone climate control and premium audio systems.
When the second-generation Durango appeared in 2004, it was three inches taller, two inches wider, and seven inches longer than its predecessor. Now edging into the full-sized SUV category, this new Durango offered third-row seating and a redesigned suspension with rear coil springs for a more luxurious ride. In 2007 the second-generation Durango received an attractive restyle with a new grille, hood, and headlamps, and in 2009, a two-mode hybrid version was briefly offered.
To go with the changing times, in the summer of 2010 the Internet was put to use to tease the first images of the third-generation Durango to the public and the press. Based on an all-new, computer-designed unitized platform, this Durango went into production in December of that year. Buyers had their pick of a pair of world-class engines, the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 or the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 with 360 hp. The 2012 model earned the Drivers’ Choice Award from the editors of Motorweek, and is ranked as a “Top Safety Pick” with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). What’s next for the popular SUV? We can’t wait to find out.