According to an Autoblog source, Dodge will abandon the Durango nameplate for the model's replacement due for 2012. In place of that two-generation designator, Chrysler is exhuming the Magnum nameplate, a moniker used on the low-slung wagon built on Chrysler's LX platform up until 2008. The new Magnum is expected to be built atop the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee chassis (itself riding on Mercedes-Benz-derived architecture) and skew more toward the crossover segment than the previous rough-and-ready SUV.
Our source originally showed us a screen capture of a Pentastar service training software page on its Chrysler Academy Learning Center confirming the Magnum's existence (shown above), but at that time, he wasn't clear what the vehicle was. Since then, our man has learned through a Chrysler zone manager at a New York dealer's meeting that the line item in question is indeed the next Durango. A secondary source close to the situation confirmed to Autoblog that a name change for the new vehicle is in the cards and that Magnum is under serious consideration, but he was unclear as to whether a final decision had been made.
The Durango was introduced in 1998 and immediately found success riding the crest of the SUV boom. A second-generation debuted for 2004 and ran through the 2009 model year, but the larger redesigned model didn't meet with the same sort of success as its predecessor, struggling to deal with the collapse of the body-on-frame SUV market and increasingly plentiful crossover options.
It isn't immediately clear what the reasoning is behind Chrysler's apparent name change strategy, especially as the 2005-2008 Magnum itself wasn't considered much of a sales success (it was consistently outsold by its LX platform stablemates, the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger). That said, with the model being more CUV-like than a body-on-frame bruiser, the change seems to make some sense. Further, Magnum remains a powerful nameplate, and the Pentastar has a long history of employing it for any number of different products, including a large B-platform coupe in the late 1970s, a range of engines, and a Mexican-market K-car model in the '80s. Thanks for the tip, Michael!