2003 Dodge Durango SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Dodge Durango SUV

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Dodge Durango Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 4.7 L V 8-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Four Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 235 hp @ 4800 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 13/17 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2003 Dodge Durango

  • A solid sport-ute all around, but a little long in the tooth to call a class leader.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Strong V8 engines, smooth-shifting transmission, excellent ride quality, rugged good looks.

  • Cons

    Dismal gas mileage, dated design.

  • What's New for 2003

    Entry-level Sport model gets bigger wheels (16s versus last year's 15s) and all Durangos now have four-wheel disc brakes. Inside, you'll find a six-disc CD changer as a new option. A redesign is due for 2004.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (35 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Great suv, great buy!

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Vehicle: 2003 Dodge Durango SLT 4WD 4dr SUV (4.7L 8cyl 5A)

I got my '03 Durango a few months ago with 130k miles on it, and I love it. It handles great - not much body roll, feels lighter than it is. Seats are very comfortable, and it has a LOT of power. The drivetrain is very responsive & the engine feels like it's bigger than 287 Cu. In. I DO wish there was more legroom for the 2nd row passengers as I am a big guy & leave my seat very far back. And yes, the gas mileage is poor (13/18 MPG), but I knew it when I bought it (probably why the car was so inexpensive). I like the styling & features of this generation of Durango. I'll write another review after I put some serious miles on it. After 5k miles so far I love it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Good car

by on
Vehicle: 2003 Dodge Durango SLT 4WD 4dr SUV (4.7L 8cyl 5A)

I got screwed by the dealership... The sold me a demo saying they were going to discount it $2k and then they secretly added it back in and smooth-talked me into believing they were honest until I went home and double checked the math. But this car has been reliable as hell even though it has been a gas hog. I blame the dealership and Dodge Headquarters for not responding to my complaint... but the vehicle itself is not to blame.

Amazing durango!!

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Vehicle: 2003 Dodge Durango SLT 4WD 4dr SUV (4.7L 8cyl 5A)

I bought my 2003 Durango new and have been driving it ever since. I drive alot and have put 240k miles on this SUV. It has been a great car! Great for pulling our horse trailer, hauling kids and as day to day work vehicle. I change the oil every 3k miles or so and other than normal maintenance I have had NO problems. Prior to the Durango I usually did not buy American cars...but the Durango changed my mind! I just bought a new car and bought another American made car. (smaller car, better gas mileage than the SUV) I'm keeping the Durango around too...how many miles can you go Durango!! Love our Durango...thanks Dodge!

Excellent rig

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Vehicle: 2003 Dodge Durango SLT 4WD 4dr SUV (4.7L 8cyl 5A)

Fine, the mpg isn't great but what it lacks in that dept. it makes up for in every other category. Had I known how great Durangos are when they were introduced I wouldn't have waited until 07 to buy my 03. It's great! Plenty of power from the 4.7 (enough to tow my 68 Charger project on a flat bed), excellent turning radius, very reliable and just plain fun to drive. From deep snow to dry pavement the Durango handles it all. A dead battery and window moulding are the only issues I've had in more than 2.5 years of ownership. I can haul 8 people with the front buddy seat up and even managed to get a large dining table, six chairs and four people in it once. I just love it. It's a 4x4 muscle car.

Tested and proven

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Vehicle: 2003 Dodge Durango SLT 4WD 4dr SUV (4.7L 8cyl 5A)

I bought my Durango new and have owned it for over 6 years now. I had to do nothing more than routine maintenance since ownership. This vehicle is very sound and dependable. I have over 69,000 miles on it and just replaced the tires for the first time and only because a road hazzard trashed one of my tires beyond repair. I had enough tread left for at least another 10,000 miles. I wish I got better than the 15 mpg but it is a heavy suv. The interior has held up well along with the exterior paint. I plan to keep it for another 5 years and hope it takes as good care of me as it already has.

Beauty, brawn and bling

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Vehicle: 2003 Dodge Durango SLT 4WD 4dr SUV (4.7L 8cyl 5A)

This 2003 SLT 4.7L is my second Durango. I previously had a 2000 SLT with 5.9L V8. I bought this one used with 49K miles Dodge Certified (still bought the extended warranty)and have now passed through 83K with only one $200 repair for an emissions control sensor. Truthfully, the gas mileage isn't great, but the 4.7 L is much better than the 5.9 L I had in the 2000. I recently added an after market cold air intake system ($230- 279) from K&N or Airaide. The K&N are Calif Air Resource Board (CARB) exempt, meaning street legal in all 50 states and comes with documentation. They promised a +8hp. I got +2-3 mpg with improved throttle response, and meatier underhood sound.

Full 2003 Dodge Durango Review

What's New for 2003

Entry-level Sport model gets bigger wheels (16s versus last year's 15s) and all Durangos now have four-wheel disc brakes. Inside, you'll find a six-disc CD changer as a new option. A redesign is due for 2004.


Back in 1998, if you wanted eight-passenger capability in an SUV, it meant having to step up to a full-size beast, such as a Ford Expedition or GMC Suburban. Smelling an opportunity, Dodge designed its Durango SUV to fill the gap between midsize SUVs and their larger brethren.

The Durango offered a third seat that the Explorers and Blazers of the day didn't. The Durango was (and still is) based on the Dakota and shared many components, including chassis, powertrain, some body panels and many interior pieces. Power came from either a standard 5.2-liter V8 or an optional 5.9-liter V8, and all first-year Durangos had four-wheel drive.

As the years went on, a two-wheel-drive version became available, a more efficient 4.7-liter V8 replaced the old 5.2, a sporty R/T model debuted, the cabin was redesigned and curtain-style side airbags became optional.

Now the Durango faces a number of freshly redesigned or new challengers, such as the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet TrailBlazer EXT and Honda Pilot. All have third-row seats as well as more refined cabins. But this truck-based sport-ute doesn't try to be all things to all people and makes no apologies for its somewhat tougher character. With its class-leading towing and hauling capabilities, the Durango remains a solid choice for folks who need plenty of seating and serious hauling capacity in their midsize-ute.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

Five versions of the Durango are offered: entry-level Sport, well-equipped SXT, luxury SLT, even plusher SLT Plus and the muscular R/T. For most folks, the SXT will be sufficient, equipped as it is with popular features such as a CD player and roof rack along with the Sport's standard fare that includes air conditioning, alloy wheels and power windows, door locks and mirrors.

Powertrains and Performance

All Durangos can be had with either two- or part-time four-wheel-drive, except the R/T, which comes only as a full-time four-wheeler. SLT models, however, do offer the full-time system as an option. The standard power plant for all but the R/T is the contemporary 4.7-liter V8 that pumps out 235 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Teamed with a five-speed automatic, this engine furnishes crisp throttle response with power accessible from a broad rev range. The 5.9-liter V8 (245 horsepower, 335 lb-ft) is standard on the R/T and optional on the SLTs; it comes paired with a four-speed automatic gearbox. Both engines like their gasoline; we've noticed that either one seems hard-pressed to average more than 13 mpg.

The Durango is ready to work, with maximum payload and towing capacities that, at 1,770 and 7,550 pounds, respectively, outmuscle the competition.


Side curtain airbags (that provide protection for the head and upper torso in side-impact collisions) are available, a feature that's rare in this class. In terms of crash tests, the Durango scored four (out of five) stars in frontal impacts and rated "Acceptable" (which is tantamount to three out of four stars) in frontal offset tests. There is no side-impact data available.

Interior Design and Special Features

Anyone familiar with the Dodge Dakota should feel right at home in the Durango, as the two share most cabin components, such as the dash and seat designs. What this means is large gauges and simple controls and, in lower trim levels, a somewhat bland decor. All but the Sport and SXT come with a third-row seat that increases passenger capacity to seven. On the SLT, a front bench seat is available, which would allow up to eight to ride in a Durango.

Driving Impressions

In terms of handling dynamics, body roll is well controlled and, with the help of responsive, tight steering, the Durango can run through twisty two-lane roads with confidence, sans the tippy feeling that some other utes are plagued with. And even when carrying a full load of passengers, the suspension handles the burden with little effort, providing an excellent ride without bottoming out on bigger bumps. As far as power, the smaller V8 is fine, and along with the alert automatic gearbox, provides brisk all-around performance for this 4,500-pound SUV.

Talk About The 2003 Durango

Gas Mileage


  • 13
  • cty
  • 17
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs