The Second Generation (2004-2009) Dodge Durango
The second generation (2004+) Dodge Durango, built in Delaware, featured best-in-class power, more cargo room, and more capability. A 2007 refresh (see bottom of page) added many features; and the 2008 model added an optional hybrid-electric powerplant, developed along with GM and BMW.
The system, which also incorporated the standard Hemi multiple-displacement system, boosted gas mileage by about 25% - and a full 40% in the city. The full-size hybrid SUVs included an electrically variable transmission with two electric motors, two full hybrid modes of operation, and four fixed mechanical ger ratios. The Durango and Aspen was powered either by the electric motors or by the Hemi, or a combination of both. The electric motors were used for regenerative braking, greatly increasing city mileage, as well as power boosts.
The 2009 Dodge Durango, the last Durango until the 2012 Dodge Durango, got the new VCT Hemi, at 365 or 356 horsepower (Chrysler's materials reference both numbers in several places; we think it's 365) and 390 lb-ft of torque, as well as the hybrid system (see our review of the similar Aspen hybrid). Other changes included a new teal color, satellite video added to the rear-seat video, and a 30-gigabyte hard drive stereo option.
Summary of the second generation Dodge Durango's new features
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 Suburban, while towing and interior space were not as good. 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, yet provides the fuel efficiency, performance and handling of the smaller SUVs. It also dramatically cut interior noise, and improves braking.
The new Durango offered increased head, hip and leg room, 101 cu. ft. of cargo space and a Fold and Tumble(TM) third-row seat.
The 2004 Dodge Durango was larger than its predecessor -- seven inches longer, two inches wider and more than three inches taller. With its third-row seat folded and middle row up, the way the majority of three-row seat SUVs are driven, the 2004 Dodge Durango had more cargo room (67.3 cubic feet behind the second row) than Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition or Toyota Sequoia. It had 20 cubic feet more than the Ford Explorer.
With the third- and second-row seats folded, the Durango's flat load floor provided an enormous 101 cu. ft. of cargo room, a 15 percent improvement over the current-generation Durango. The distance between the wheelhouses in the rear cargo area had been increased by more than three inches to 48 inches for added carrying capacity.
The 2004 Dodge Durango was available in three trim levels: ST, SLT and a new Limited package. SLT and Limited models featured available unique two-tone leather interiors.
The 2004 Dodge Durango delivered best-in-class cargo capacity, offering a best-in-class 67.3 cu. ft. of cargo room behind the second row seats.
The 2004 Dodge Durango delivered a best-in-class Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 6600 lbs., class-leading towing capacity of 8900 lbs, and the ability to carry a 48-inch sheet of plywood - an industry benchmark.
Engines and transmissions
The 5.7-liter HEMI Magnum V-8, first offered on the 2003 Ram Heavy Duty, delivered a 10-percent improvement in fuel efficiency and a full 100 horsepower improvement versus the previous generation 5.9-liter V-8.
With 345 horsepower (257 kW) at 5600 rpm and 375 lb.-ft. (509 N.m) at 4400 rpm, the new HEMI Magnum delivered a 40-percent improvement in horsepower and a 12-percent improvement in torque versus its predecessor. Equipped with HEMI, Durango easily set acceleration and towing class records.
Automatic transmission-equipped Durangos with either the 4.7-liter Magnum or the 5.7-liter HEMI Magnum offered a "Tow/Haul" transmission feature that provided crisper shifts and reduced gear searching when towing by holding a lower gear longer. The system would also select a lower gear under downhill conditions to utilize the engine's braking capability.
With 290 lb.-ft. of torque (393 Nm) at 3,600 rpm, the 4.7-liter provided smooth and responsive performance, particularly because it was mated to the 5-45RFE automatic transmission. The 5-45RFE also featured a unique alternate second gear ratio for use in difficult passing and grade-climbing situations.
New to the Dodge Durango lineup was the 3.7-liter Magnum V-6, standard on two-wheel drive Durangos and delivering 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 (announced in late October 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 335 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 engine seemed to add between 3 and 66 poounds (no doubt the engine was only part of the equation). The V6 may have gotten better mileage if it was available with the five-speed automatic. The Hemi requested 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.
Dodge Durango Hybrid details
The Hemi-powered Aspen and Durango hybrids benefitted from both more power (385 horsepower) and increased gas mileage (25% overall, 40% in the city). Towing was rated at 6,000 pounds with an electrically variable automatic transmission. The two-mode hybrid system provided assistance from electric motors allowing the HEMI V-8 to remain in four-cylinder mode more often than without a hybrid powertrain, improving overall fuel economy. The pair were to be sold in mid-2008 as 2009 models.
As a result of low- and high-speed electric continuously variable transmission (ECVT) modes, the system was defined as a “two-mode hybrid.” In addition, the fuel-saving system incorporated four fixed-gear ratios for high efficiency and power-handling capabilities. During the two ECVT modes, the system could use the electric motors for acceleration, improving fuel economy, or for regenerative braking to utilize energy that would normally be lost during braking or deceleration. The energy was stored in the batteries for later use.
In the first mode — at low speed and with light loads — the vehicle could operate as pure electric, pure gas, or both.
The second mode was used primarily at highway speeds. In addition to electric assist, the second mode provided full power from the 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 when conditions demanded it, such as when passing, pulling a trailer or climbing a steep grade.
Input from the controller determined the necessary torque for the driving conditions and sent a corresponding command to the engine and electric motors. The engine and electric motors transferred torque to a series of gears in the transmission, which multiplied torque similar to a conventional automatic transmission to propel the vehicle. Unlike conventional continuously variable transmissions, however, the two-mode full hybrid’s electrically controlled system used no mechanical belts or bands. Shifts between the two modes were synchronous — meaning no engine speed changes were necessary for the mode shift to occur — resulting in seamless accelerations.
The 300-volt battery pack provided electric power for the system, and was designed to fit in the vehicle without compromising passenger space. A rectifier located under the vehicle’s hood converted AC to DC, to power conventional 12-volt accessories, such as interior lighting, climate control and the audio system. The vehicle’s internal-combustion engine efficiently maintained the battery pack.
Ride and handling
The 2004 Dodge Durango had a refined and quiet ride but with a handling edge not normally associated with sport-utility vehicles. An all-new and torsionally stiff fully hydroformed frame was linked to an independent front suspension with rack and pinion steering. Thanks to the consistency of the frame dynamics, the suspension and steering could be finely tuned to deliver superior ride and improved steering feel.
"The Dodge Durango is all-new from the ground up with a fully hydroformed frame and chassis that is unique to Durango," said Frank Klegon, Vice President - Truck Product Team. "With the Durango, we have taken many of the lessons learned on the design and construction of our new Dodge Ram pickup frames in the areas of hydroforming and suspension tuning. What we have delivered is an exceptional handling SUV that literally leaves the ever-crowded look-alike SUV pack in our dust."
Greatly 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. The result: a smooth ride and a best-in-class Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 6,600 lbs. and class-leading towing capacity of 8,900 lbs.
" SUVs were built with a purpose in mind, and the Dodge Durango delivers the utility that our customers want," added Klegon. "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, enabling Durango to carry a 48-inch sheet of plywood - an industry benchmark."
A new traction control system and available full-time four-wheel drive improved Durango's on- and off-road capabilities.
The 2004 Dodge Durango included a new advanced air bag system that included dual stage front air bags and an occupant-sensing system for the passenger-side front air bag. The new system could detect the presence of a child seat and automatically deactivated the air bag.
Other safety features available on the new Dodge Durango included available side curtain air bags for all three rows of seating, adjustable pedals and standard four-wheel disc ABS brakes.
All seats in the Durango feature three-point shoulder belts, including a new center-mounted, three-point shoulder belt incorporated into the second-row seating area.
A new fully hydroformed frame was designed to improve not only handling and accident avoidance, but excellent crash protection as well. New octagonal front frame rail tips with patent pending crush initiators were designed to absorb frontal impacts more consistently.
The bumper height of the new 2004 Dodge Durango was within the bumper height zone of passenger cars and engaged the structures of vehicles in the event of an impact.
In addition to its excellent handling and steering capabilities, the Durango featured 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 redesigned 2004 Dodge Durango would be the first Chrysler vehicle to include laminated side glass as standard equipment, according to Solutia Automotive, who will supply the polyvinyl butyral (PVB) interlayer for the glass. Laminated glass, which put a PVB plastic layer between two thin layers of glass, significantly reduced interior noise, saved weight (11% lighter), and provided 10 times greater intrusion resistance and UV protection (90% reduction vs 60% in conventional tempered glass).
In tests conducted by Solutia, laminated glass reduced the intrusion of wind and road noise into a vehicle by up to six decibels. The quietness of a vehicle's interior is directly associated with the perception of quality, according to a J.D. Power study. A quieter interior also improves audibility in the cabin, a distinct advantage as voice-activated devices such as hands free cell phones become more prevalent.
Trevor Creed said, "Our owners spend more and more time in their vehicles, so we really focused on the detail work. For instance, we added a large and usable 'fast food' bin at the base of the center stack for extra storage room."
The new instrument panel cluster featured a large, centrally located speedometer and white-faced gauges that provided a connection to other Dodge performance vehicles. Available on Limited models, a redesigned HVAC control panel featured the new Automatic Temperature Control (ATC) climate control system. The ATC unit used a dedicated microprocessor and an infrared sensor mounted in the overhead console to measure the temperature of the driver and the cabin. The new system measured ambient temperature and the engine cooling system, delaying the flow of air in cold conditions until warm air was available. The unit also had controls for the rear air conditioning system. 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. "Venetian Blind" style air vents closed flush and provided a cleaner appearance.
With an innovative split folding third-row seat design, Durango improved flexibility without losing capability.
Second-row rear seat passengers got their own climate controls and a DVD entertainment system. The second- and third-row rear seats featured 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) technology was available. The system could recognize up to seven different Bluetooth-equipped cellular phones and responded to voice commands, utilizing a microphone in the rearview mirror and the stereo system's speakers for 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.
2007 Dodge Durango changes
- New front and rear fascias were body mounted eliminating gaps seen on previous models; updated front end appearance was achieved with a new grille, front fenders, hood and headlamps. Limited model front fascia incorporated a bright insert
- New liftgate light bar incorporated the Dodge brand logo
- New bodyside moldings were standard on SXT, SLT, Adventurer and Limited models
- New larger (six- by nine-inches) rearview mirrors were heated and folding
- New exterior color offerings included Marine Blue, Steel Blue and Brilliant Black
- New optional quad bucket seats (rear seats are heated when heated front seats are ordered) were available on SLT and Limited models
- New seat materials and sew styles. YES Essentials® Stain resistant, odor resistant, anti-static seat fabric was standard on SLT cloth seats
- 115-volt power inverter was standard on all vehicles equipped with rear HVAC
- Express up and down driver and passenger windows
- Standard side air bags
- Electronic Vehicle Information Center was added to the overhead console
- Leather-wrapped center console lid was standard on Limited
- New SLT center stack bezel finish—Maple Pommele Woodgrain
- One-touch, three-blink lane change feature
- Dual zone front Automatic Temperature Control
- Available in 45 states, the optional 4.7-liter engine came standard with flex-fuel capability (operates on E85 ethanol)
- 18-inch aluminum wheels now standard on SLT models with either black sidewall or outline white letter tires; 18-inch chrome clad aluminum wheels now standard on Limited; 20-inch chrome clad wheel added as optional equipment for both the SLT and the Limited; New 17-inch aluminum wheel was standard on SXT and Adventurer models
- Electronic Stability Program (ESP) was standard equipment with standard trailer sway dampening
- Tire Pressure Monitoring (TPM) was standard on SLT and Limited models
- Ultrasonic rear park assist was standard on Limited and optional on SLT
2004 Dodge Durango specifications
The 2004 Dodge Durango was built at the Newark Assembly Plant in Newark, Delaware.
DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
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
SUSPENSION AND SUCH
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