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A serious SUV, down to its stout towing ability, generous cargo room, unyielding ride and abysmal fuel economy.
Aggressive styling, large interior, powerful 5.9-liter V8.
5.2-liter V8's power disappointing, interior squeaks, wind noise.
Available Durango Models
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The next-generation 4.7-liter V8 is now available on four-wheel-drive models and is linked to an all-new automatic transmission. Rack-and-pinion steering becomes standard for both two- and four-wheel-drives. A performance-oriented R/T model has been added to the lineup that already includes the SLT and the decked-out SLT Plus.
The 2-year-old Durango is Dodge's fierce competitor in the sport-utility market. Eighty percent of its parts are shared with the Dakota, including the platform, but the Durango's frame is actually three times stiffer than the pickup's. Unfortunately, the rough ride doesn't let you forget its close relation to a truck platform. It's somewhat bouncy and you'll be aware of the stiffness, yet it's not miserable enough for it to lose its cushy-cruiser status.
The Durango may be compact on the outside, but once inside, you'll be shocked by the roominess. With a 7,600-pound towing capacity, it's an SUV that can be stuffed to the gills with family and friends, and still have the ability to haul your watercraft or other form of weekend fun. However, you'll have to make a choice: eight people, or useable cargo space, because you can't have the best of both worlds when there's a full house. The good news is that a roof rack is standard.
If you are taking advantage of the third row, you'll appreciate the ease of the fold-and-tumble second-row seating. Legroom is notable throughout, but larger folk may want to avoid the third row for anything other than short jaunts. Headroom shouldn't be an issue, thanks to the raised roof line. Overall, the interior is quite comfortable, and instrumentation is simple and within reach, but expect wind noise and squeaking.
The 4x4s inherit the new 4.7-liter Magnum V-8, a sprightly engine, requiring less-frequent fill-ups than with the other Magnums. The 5.2-liter Magnum V8 is standard on both the Sport and the SLT two-wheel-drives but the best choice for towing is the 5.9-liter V8.
Off-road, Durango is a capable, if somewhat oversized, backroads runner, able to tackle a wide range of obstacles. The Durango also shines as a grocery-getter and soccer-team hauler. Emphasis for this vehicle is on utility.
The new Sport trim level joins the existing SLT and SLT Plus this year, which consists of an appearance package featuring two-tone paint, optional factory-installed running boards, five-spoke aluminum wheels, and Sierra Bronze Pearl Coat and Aquamarine Metallic exterior colors.
Also debuting for 2000 is the performance-oriented R/T, with a 5.9-liter V8, quicker rear axle ratio, 17" wheels, sport-tuned exhaust, and stiffer suspension. The Toyota 4Runner, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer are rivals, but none of them have bolted in a third row of seats yet, so the Durango has the advantage in terms of passenger capacity. Also, a fully equipped SLT Plus comes in under $35,000 (and remember, that's for a V8, four-wheel drive, and leather seats), making it a budget-conscious splurge.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.