2003 Dodge Durango SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2003 Dodge Durango SUV

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Dodge Durango Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 5.9 L V 8-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Four Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 4-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 250 hp @ 4200 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 11/16 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes
Gas Mileage


  • 11
  • cty
  • 16
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Hands-down: this truck is a

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Vehicle: 2003 Dodge Durango R/T 4WD 4dr SUV (5.9L 8cyl 4A)

I bought this truck new and the love affair I've had with it hasn't dimmed since. I wanted something that could haul a car trailer & my '67 Fury, as well as maneuver well in the snowy N.Eastern PA mountains in winter. This truck has surpassed every expectation I had. While the mpg. aren't great, it wasn't a factor since I commute by rail 5 days a week. When I travel to the mountains with my 150# dog, luggage, and 3 other people - this truck still gets it done. Comfortably. With 150K on the clock, I've only replaced a fuel pump. I love this truck so much, i can't bear to trade it in. I've promised it to my mechanic, who admires it as much as I do. Say what you want about Dodge, I LOVE mine.


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Vehicle: 2003 Dodge Durango R/T 4WD 4dr SUV (5.9L 8cyl 4A)

I love my Durango. It's fast, looks good, very easy to drive (once you have owned it for about a week). Lots of power, great AWD system. Has everything but a sunroof.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Never again

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Vehicle: 2003 Dodge Durango R/T 4WD 4dr SUV (5.9L 8cyl 4A)

Owned R/T for several months now and regret trading in my Infiniti for it. Had 32K when purchased and had tie rod problems from the day I drove off lot. Wife broke down 3 days after purchase. Went back to have driver side window switch replaced due to failure, Window came off track At 44k transmission started slipping on highway at 65mph. Took to dealer and whole transmission needed to be replaced over $2k. Lucky I bought extended warranty but still cost me $425 out of pocket. Still doesn't feel right. Slips now when rear end hits any bump on highway. I am going with my wife this week to get rid of it and buy a foreign car. American cars are just not up to the quality level.

Good truck for me

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Vehicle: 2003 Dodge Durango R/T 4WD 4dr SUV (5.9L 8cyl 4A)

This is my first SUV and I am very pleased with the performance, handling, and looks of the vehicle. Although I am skeptical from reading other reviews, I have had no problems with the vehicle. I purchased a 24 foot enclosed race car trailer (with stabalizing bars and sway bar control) and have had no problem with towing power, weight of 7300lbs. My only complaint is the narrowness of the vehicle. Even with adding extended mirrors it is difficult to see around the trailer. Due other reviews in Edmunds, I opted to buy the full extended service warranty. Looked at an '05 Expedition and my Durango had more interior cargo length (not width) and was easier to load.

Last one

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Vehicle: 2003 Dodge Durango R/T 4WD 4dr SUV (5.9L 8cyl 4A)

This is one of the wrost SUV's I have ever owned. This will be my last Dodge after 30 of Dodges. After renting a both Ford and Chevy SUV's for both road and off road, the Dodge does not compare in quailty. Enginee Problems (I use Mobil 1) bad handeling in the wind and I'm lucky to get 15 - 20 up mountain interstate. 18 wheelers pass me. The dealers have no idea of what the problem is. This is my 2nd and my last bad Dodge.

Excellent suv

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Vehicle: 2003 Dodge Durango R/T 4WD 4dr SUV (5.9L 8cyl 4A)

I have the Durango 5.9 R/T. It's beyond everything I expected it to be. Dodge has really came through by producing a Suv, that is "just right". This baby packs enough power to easily pull 7,000 pounds, and yet it seems that the big hefty engine is still asking for more. It's also a sharp looking ride. I get compliments on this thing quite often, and I have not yet added anything to it, nor have I made any modifications. It's all stock. Now that says a lot. Now I am really praising Dodge for their new redesigned 2004 Durango. It's 7inches longer, 4inches taller, and three inches wider than the ones that are out now. Great job Dodge, keep up the good work!!


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

2003 Dodge Durango Discussions See all Started By

I have a 2003 Durango that I use to tow a two horse trailer. I have an ongoing problem with the brake system. It is a Tekonsha system, which is supposed to be great. But it keeps grounding out. When I...

I currently own a 2007 Honda Ridgeline RTL. I have previously owned a 2002 Dodge Durango R/T, which I traded off in 2007. I have regretted that decision ever since. I traded the Durango for a Toyot...

Due out the Summer of 2003, Dodge redesigns the popular Durango....

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