Dodge / Ram
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The second generation (2004+) Dodge Durango, built in Delaware, boasted best-in-class power, with more cargo room. A 2007 refresh (see bottom of page) added features, while 2008 saw an optional hybrid-electric V8 powerplant.
The hybrid boosted gas mileage by about 25% (40% in the city), using a variable-ratio transmission with two electric motors (with regenerative braking), two full hybrid modes of operation, and four fixed mechanical gear ratios. The Durango and Aspen was powered either by the electric motors or by the Hemi, or a combination of both.
The 2009 Dodge Durango, the last Durango until the 2012 Dodge Durango, got the new variable-cam Hemi, at 365 or 356 horsepower (Chrysler's materials reference both numbers in several places) and 390 lb-ft of torque, as well as the hybrid system (see our review of the similar Aspen hybrid). Other changes included satellite video for the rear seat video, and a hard-drive stereo option.
The original Durango was a midsized, truck-based SUV with best in class power and towing, but by the end of its run, gas mileage was not much better than the full size Chevy Suburban. Ride and handling lagged behind the Dakota pickup, and sales sagged.
The revised Dodge Durango had the interior room, towing and hauling capability of its large sport-utility vehicle (SUV) competition with lower interior noise and better braking.
The new Durango increased head, hip and leg room, with 101 cu. ft. of cargo space and a Fold and Tumble(TM) third-row seat. That came thanks to seven inches more length, two more inches of width, and three more inches of height. The 2004 Dodge Durango had more cargo room (67.3 cubic feet behind the second row) than Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition or Toyota Sequoia, and 20 cubic feet more than the Ford Explorer.
The 2004 Dodge Durango was available in three trim levels: ST, SLT and a new Limited package.
The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) was 6600 lbs., with class-leading towing capacity of 8900 lbs, and the ability to carry a 48-inch sheet of plywood.
Engines started with the standard 210 horsepower 3.7-liter V-6, and included an optional 4.7-liter V-8 and 5.7-liter V-8.
The 5.7-liter HEMI Magnum V-8 had 10% better gas mileage and 100 horsepower more than the old 5.9-liter V-8.
With 345 horsepower (257 kW) at 5600 rpm and 375 lb.-ft. (509 N.m) at 4400 rpm (later boosted), Durango set acceleration and towing records for the class.
A new V8 autmotic feature was the “Tow/Haul” mode, long offered by GM, for firmer shifts and reduced gear searching when towing; it also dropped a gear when going downhill, when needed, for better engine braking.
With 290 lb.-ft. of torque (393 Nm) at 3,600 rpm, the 4.7-liter was mated to the 5-45RFE automatic transmission; it had a unique alternate second gear ratio for use in difficult passing and grade-climbing situations (making it a sort of six speed).
The new 3.7-liter Magnum V-6 was rated at 210 horsepower (157 kW) at 5,200 rpm and 235 lb.-ft. of torque (319 Nm) at 4,000 rpm. It replaced the 3.9 LA V6.
EPA gas mileage for 2003 was 16 city, 21 highway with the V6; 14 city, 19 highway (18 with 4WD) for the 4.7 V8; 14 city, 19 highway with the 2WD Hemi; and 13 city, 18 highway with the 4WD Hemi.
The Hemi was surprisingly efficient given its 345 horsepower (vs 230 on the 4.7); the main deciding factor on gas mileage was, however, weight, and the Durango started at 4,671 pounds (ST 2WD) and moved up to 5,079 pounds (Limited 4WD). The Hemi was tuned for midgrade (89 octane) gas but could use regular.
The V6 could tow trailers up to 3,700 pounds. The 4.7 with two wheel drive could handle up to 7,400 lb (5,900 lb with the 3.55 axle ratio), while the Hemi could handle 8,950 lb (7,400 with the 3.55 axle). The 3.7 was only available with the 3.92 axle. Four wheel drive cut back on towing by 100 lb for the 4.7, and around 200-250 lb with the Hemi. These towing figures all required the Trailer Towing Group to be purchased; otherwise, the Durango could only tow 2,000 pounds.
A new traction control system and available full-time four-wheel drive were added.
A new, stiffer, hydroformed frame was linked to an independent front suspension with rack and pinion steering.
The rack and pinion setup was unfortunately less sturdy than the recirculating-ball steering on earlier Durangos; there could be problems with the inner pivots, since the rack itself was reportedly weak and allowed the pivots to flex out of plane.
Improving the ride of the Durango was a rear suspension with coil springs and a solid rear axle that delivered a smooth ride, yet improved durability, payload and best-in-class towing capability. A Watt linkage system was fitted to the rear axle, centering the axle and reducing rear-end skate over rough surfaces.
Chrysler’s Frank Klegon said, “The Watt linkage design not only helps to improve the new Durango's ride, but it also let us lower and widen the rear cargo floor.”
The 2004 Dodge Durango included dual stage front air bags and an occupant-sensing system for the passenger-side front air bag, which could detect the presence of a child seat and automatically deactivate the air bag. Durango also added optional side curtain air bags for all three rows of seating, adjustable pedals, and standard four-wheel disc ABS brakes. New to the rear seats was a center mounted three point shoulder belt for the center passenger.
Octagonal front frame rail tips with patent pending crush initiators were designed to absorb frontal impacts more consistently.
Durango had the largest brakes in its class and standard 17-inch wheels. The standard ABS braking system, shared with the larger Dodge Ram trucks, included disc brakes with 13.1-inch front rotors and 13.8-inch rear rotors, increasing the total swept area by 30 percent. The new braking system also featured a twin-stage booster and electronic brakes distribution for better panic stops.
The 2004 Dodge Durango was the first Chrysler vehicle to include standard laminated side glass, according to Solutia Automotive, supplier of the polyvinyl butyral (PVB) glass interlayer. This glass was 11% lighter, but provided 10 times greater intrusion resistance and UV protection (90% reduction vs 60% in conventional tempered glass). It also cut noise by six decibels.
The new instrument panel cluster had a large, centrally located speedometer and white-faced gauges. On Limited, a new HVAC control panel used the new Automatic Temperature Control (ATC) climate control system, with a dedicated microprocessor and infrared sensor to measure the temperature of the driver and the cabin. A redesigned manual control unit was standard.
The steering wheel featured a new four-spoke shield design and the vertical edges of the dash dropped down to the center stack to divide the driver and passenger seating areas.
Second-row rear seat passengers had their own climate controls and a DVD entertainment system. The second- and third-row rear seats had more leg, shoulder and hip room than the current-generation Durango. The second-row seats also had a new recline feature.
The Durango was also available with a sun roof for the first time.
UConnect(TM) hands-free communications system with Bluetooth(TM) could recognize up to seven different Bluetooth-equipped cellular phones and responded to voice commands, with hands-free conversations.
A new nine-speaker, 384-watt Infinity® sound system with Ceramic Metal Matrix speakers and a subwoofer that delivered booming sound for CDs and DVDs was optional, as was SIRIUS Satellite Digital Radio.
The Durango was redesigned with considerably more bulk just before gas prices rose, in an example of traditional Chrysler timing; sales were not at expected or desirable levels, and many felt that the new Durango had lost the styling advantage of the original. Chrysler responded with uncharacteristic speed, answering the most serious charges against the Durango - bad gas mileage and unfortunate styling.
For 2007, the nose was redesigned, and fuel economy was boosted by around 20% on the Hemi by shutting off four cylinders when not in use; and the 4.7 V8 could run on E85 if needed. Electronic stability control, ultrasonic rear parking assistance, and a tire pressure monitoring system were added. Larger (six by nine inches) rearview mirrors were heated and folding.
A new hydroformed frame improved handling and cut noise.
For 2009, the Durango got the new Hemi, at 365 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque, as well as a new hybrid-Hemi system. Other changes included a new teal color, satellite video added to the rear-seat video, and a 30-gigabyte hard drive stereo option.
The 2004-2009 Dodge Durango was built at the Newark Assembly Plant in Newark, Delaware.
Wheelbase 119.2 inches
Overall Length 200.8 inches
Overall Width 76 inches
Overall Height 74.3 inches
Approach Angle 27.2 inches
Departure Angle 30.2 inches
Front Track 64.4 inches
Rear Track 64.5 inches
Width Between Rear Wheel Well 48.5 inches
Maximum Gross Vehicle Weight Rating 6,600 lbs.
Maximum Tow Rating 8,900 lbs.
Payload 1,780 lbs.
Curb Weight 4,671 lbs.
CARGO VOLUME (CU. FT.)
Behind Third Row 19
Behind Second Row (third row folded) 67.3
Behind First Row (second and third rows folded) 101.3
Seating Capacity 5-7
3.7-liter Magnum V-6
Horsepower 210 hp (157 kW) @ 5,200 rpm
Torque 235 lb.-ft. of torque (319 Nm) @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission 42RLE, four-speed automatic
(standard on 2WD)
4.7-liter Magnum V-8
Horsepower 230 hp (175 kW ) @ 4,600 rpm
Torque 290 lb.-ft. of torque (393 Nm) @ 3,600 rpm
Transmission 5-45RFE, five-speed automatic
(standard on 4WD)
5.7-liter HEMI‚ Magnum V8
Horsepower 345 (257 kW) @ 5,400 rpm
Torque 375 lb.-ft. (509 Nm) @ 4,200
Transmission 5-45RFE, five-speed automatic
NV244 Gen II/All-wheel drive, low range
STEERING: Rack and Pinion
Type Four-wheel disc, ABS standard
Size 13.2 x 1.1
Size 3.8 x 0.87
Front Multi-link, independent
Rear Solid axle, coil springs, trailing arms and Watt linkage
WHEELS AND TIRES
Wheels 17-inch available in steel, aluminum and chrome-clad
Tires Goodyear Wrangler SR-A P245/70R17, P245/65 R17
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