Used 2001 Dodge Durango Review

Edmunds expert review

A serious SUV, down to its stout towing ability, generous cargo room, unyielding ride and abysmal fuel economy.

What's new for 2001

Dodge's brute of a midsize 'ute receives numerous improvements for 2001. An electronic transfer case for its four-wheel drive system is now standard on 4WD models. A new instrument panel, center console with cupholders, interior trim and upgraded stereo has been added, and a tilt steering column is now standard on all Durangos. The 5.2-liter V8 engine is dropped, leaving the more efficient 4.7-liter V8 as standard equipment in both 4x2 and 4x4 Durangos. A variable-delay intermittent rear wiper is offered, and auto-dimming, heated outside power mirrors can be had on in SLT trim. A new appearance option group for the SLT includes 16-inch aluminum wheels, along with special body side moldings, running boards and lower panels. New 15-inch Sparkle Silver aluminum wheels are standard across the Durango lineup.

Vehicle overview

The 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 truck origins. It's somewhat bouncy, and you'll be aware of the added stiffness, yet it's not miserable enough to hamper the Durango's 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 and 88 cubic feet of maximum cargo space, 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 interior cargo space, because you can't have the best of both worlds when there's a full house. Thankfully, a standard roof rack further expands your cargo carrying options. If you are taking advantage of the third row, you'll appreciate the ease of the fold-and-tumble forward second-row seating and the improved-for-2001 climate control system with separate second and third-row air conditioning outlets. 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 roofline.

The interior underwent a major revamp for 2001. A new instrument panel, a Homelink transmitter (available in Overhead Convenience Group), a redesigned floor console and new seat patterns give the Durango's cabin a thoroughly modern look. Also new this year are power lumbar supports, a power passenger seat, heated leather seats with two-level temperature control, and three new colors -- Sandstone, Dark Slate Grey, and Taupe. The improved climate control system offers dual-zone front temperature controls and has a greater heating/cooling capacity.

Durangos come in either 4x2 or 4x4 configurations. Both versions come standard with the modern 4.7-liter Magnum V8, a sprightly engine, requiring less-frequent fill-ups than with the optional 5.9-liter eight-pot, though the best choice for towing is the optional V8. Performance aficionados will want to consider the Durango R/T with its 5.9-liter engine, shorter rear axle ratio, 17-inch wheels, sport-tuned exhaust, and stiffer suspension as an alternative to mundane minivans.

Off-road, Durango is a capable, if somewhat oversized, wilderness runner, able to tackle a wide range of obstacles. The Durango also shines as a grocery-getter and soccer-team hauler. Steering is commendably responsive and overall build quality is up to par for this vehicle segment, though we'd like to see higher-grade interior materials used in certain areas. Emphasis for this vehicle is on utility and style.

The Toyota 4Runner, Nissan Pathfinder, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer are rivals, but none of them have bolted in a third row of seats, yet (Explorer gets them in 2002), so the Durango still has the advantage in terms of passenger capacity. Also, a fully equipped SLT Plus comes in under $34,000 (and remember, that's for a V8, four-wheel drive, and leather seats), making it a budget-conscious splurge. If Dodge could address the Durango's poor gas mileage and mediocre crash test scores, this would be the clear choice for those seeking maximum utility in a user-friendly size.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.