2003 Durango New Car Test Drive
Dodge Durango is handsome, powerful, versatile, and refined. For many buyers, however, Durango's most appealing feature is its just-right size. Based on the Dakota pickup, Durango is smaller and more maneuverable than the full-size SUVs, such as the Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Tahoe. Yet Durango still offers six-passenger seating, V8 power, and a hefty towing capacity. Dodge Durango has found a comfortable niche that Ford and GM missed.
With theater-style seating that gives rear-seat passengers a view of the road ahead, and other interior creature comforts, the Durango is a smart choice for large families. It's also a good choice for people who tow light to medium-sized trailers. A beefy 5.9-liter V8 is available, and it delivers plenty of pulling power, while the more sophisticated 4.7-liter overhead-cam V8 offers decent performance and an added measure of refinement.
A new five-speed automatic transmission is available for 2002 that should improve fuel economy.
Also new for 2002 are optional side-curtain air bags ($495), available for every trim level. For 2002, Dodge has added a high-value trim level called SXT with unique Graphite trim. Last year, Durango benefited from an all-new, more comfortable and more car-like interior, plus a new performance-tuned R/T model.
Durango is available with two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. Two engines are available: a 4.7-liter V8 and a 5.9-liter V8.
Five trim levels are available. Sport ($25,100) and Sport 4WD ($27,220) feature color-keyed trim, 15-inch alloy wheels, AM/FM/cassette stereo, and many other luxuries as standard equipment.
New for 2002, is the SXT ($26,995), with unique Graphite exterior trim, 16-inch alloy wheels, a roof rack, and a CD player.
SLT ($29,320) and SLT 4WD ($31,440) feature power seats, fog lights, a separate rear-compartment heater, compact disc changer, and a chrome grille.
SLT Plus ($31,930) and SLT Plus 4WD ($34,050) add leather upholstery, an overhead console, Infinity sound system, leather-wrapped steering wheel, color-coordinated running boards, and heated mirrors.
R/T ($36,620) is a performance model that combines the 245-horsepower 5.9-liter V8 with a higher numerical rear axle ratio, a limited-slip rear differential and sport-tuned exhaust to yield quicker off-the line acceleration. Four-wheel drive is standard. Seventeen-inch wheels with 275/60R17 tires and a sport-tuned suspension improve handling, while body-colored wheel flares help set the R/T apart.