As the most recent addition to the Dodge truck lineup, the Durango makes quite an entry. Offering the most cargo space in its class, along with a standard Magnum V8 engine, eight-passenger seating, and three-and-a-half tons of towing capacity, the Durango is one of the most versatile sport-utility vehicles on the market.
Remember the Ramcharger? Neither do we, with the help of the Dodge Durango. Based on the Dakota platform, the Durango is Dodge's best-ever attack on the booming sport-utility segment. And from the looks of things, the Dodge boys have done their homework. Though 80 percent of its parts are shared, the Durango's frame is actually three times stiffer than its Dakota sibling.
Competing directly with the sales king Ford Explorer is no easy task. But the Durango can seat up to eight passengers, which is one set of triplets more than the Explorer. It can tow up to 7,300 lbs., which is a full ton more than the Explorer. The Durango has a minimum of 7.9 inches of ground clearance, and feels plenty capable off the pavement. With the rear seats folded, it can swallow up to 88 cubic feet of cargo. Big, strong, and utilitarian; sounds like a winning formula.
The Durango is larger than anything else in its class, which explains the expansive interior. Yet it's noticeably smaller than the Chevrolet Tahoe or Ford Expedition giants, so we can't call it full-sized. But the niche is filled. Need more room than an Explorer, Blazer or Cherokee? Don't want to fork over the price of an Expedition? Take a good look at the Dodge Durango -- it's the only option.
There are now three engines to choose from: a 3.9-liter V6 with 175 horsepower and 225 foot-pounds of torque, a 5.2-liter V8 with 230 horsepower and 300 foot-pounds of torque, and a massive 5.9-liter V8 with 245 horsepower and 335 foot-pounds of torque. The massive engine is our favorite, but fuel conservation is not one of that motor's strong points. For the environmentally concerned, go with the 5.2-liter V8. It's not as thirsty, and performance doesn't lag far behind anything else in this class.
A two-wheel drive model is available for 1999, meaning that even more buyers are likely to defect from the competition's ranks. With fresh new styling, superior versatility, and an attractive base price, the newest Dodge makes a statement all its own. It says, "Buy me."