Trucks, Jeeps

1998-2003 Dodge Durango body exterior including doors and windows

Body Exterior And Systems

Inner and outer body panels from the windshield opening forward are shared with Dakota. All other panels are new to meet quality, appearance and functional requirements.

Outer panels are designed to resist denting in parking lot and cargo loading situations. Panel surface design, appropriate material thickness, reinforcements and metallurgy, such as the medium-strength steel door outer panels, are used as required to meet these requirements.

All body opening gaps are 0.18 inch. (4.5 mm), the same as Dakota.

Front-End Body Panels

Inner and outer front body panels are shared with Dakota. The clamshell hood with attached grille opens on counterbalanced hinges. The counterbalance mechanism replaces a prop rod to hold the hood open. The hinge design provides a minimum of 6 feet (1.95 m) of clearance beneath the grille with the hood fully open. Each hinge uses a four-bar linkage to guide the hood. A spiral spring, which bears against a fifth link in the mechanism, counterbalances the hood. Hood hinges and front sheet metal are designed to maintain hood stability when driving on rough roads.

The hood and fenders are designed to resist denting. Hood formations and a structural inner panel contribute to dent resistance. Fender attachment at the door opening has three bolts for stiffness and durability.

Full-coverage molded plastic front wheelhouse liners, protect the fenders and inner panels from stone damage and road splash. They also help block the sound of road noise and road splash from reaching the cab.

The radiator closure includes hydroformed upper and lower crossbars that contribute to structural stiffness, reduce weight, simplify assembly and facilitate engine removal for service. The crossbar tubes, which are formed to the desired shape in an external die by high-pressure water, were designed to provide the functions of welded assemblies of several parts. The upper crossbar is bolted in place for easy removal to facilitate engine removal for service, if needed.

Laser-welded sheet metal blanks for the front fender inner panels provide added stiffness, reduced weight and increased dimensional accuracy compared to a conventional welded assembly. The laser smoothly and precisely butt-welds two pieces of sheet metal having significantly different thickness. Added thickness provides needed local strength and stiffness more efficiently than an attached reinforcement.

An open plenum ahead of the windshield delivers intake air for the heating, ventilating and air conditioning system. It also houses the windshield wiper system.

Passenger Compartment

One-piece bodyside aperture panels extend from the windshield pillars to the liftgate pillars. They form the door openings and the outer skin aft of the doors including the quarter window openings. This one-piece construction is the largest such panel ever used on a Chrysler vehicle. It provides excellent dimensional control for the door and quarter window openings and is a major factor in providing high quality fit and finish. Through controlling the door openings this construction also helps ensure good door sealing.

Rear wheelhouse liners are standard on Durango.

Computer-designed roof support structure provides small pillars for good visibility with ample strength.

Two-piece floor pan construction uses slip planes for dimensional control - allowing assembly fixtures, not body panels, to determine fit conditions. The standard roof rack covers the roof-to-body-side aperture panel joint for a neat appearance, making a separate molding unnecessary.


The windshield is shared with Dakota. It has a deep compound curvature that integrates it with the organic lines of the body panels. The glass overlaps the pillars, providing a smooth visual transition to the full stamped doors. It is adhesive-bonded to the body.

Quarter windows are attached to the bodyside aperture panels with a combination of threaded studs and butyl adhesive. These windows are barrel-shaped to conform to surrounding body panels for a neat appearance.

Like the windshield, the liftgate window has a deep compound curvature that integrates it with the organic lines of the body panels. The glass extends to the edge of the liftgate opening, providing a smooth visual transition to the quarter panels. It is bonded and sealed to the liftgate with a urethane adhesive.

The windshield, quarter windows and liftgate window are flush with the surrounding body panels and trimmed with simple push-on moldings of extruded black PVC plastic for a neat appearance.

Door Glass

Cylindrical front and rear door glass conforms to the curvature of the body panels and lowers completely into the door. Glass thickness is the same as Dakota - 0.157 inch (4-mm) - to help reduce road and ambient noise transmission.

Rear doors each include a stationary quarter window and a division bar to enable the movable glass to lower completely into the door. Modular construction of the quarter windows ensures an accurate fit and enhanced sealing. The glass, division bar and weatherstrip are molded together and installed in the door as a unit.

Tinted Glass

Deep-tinted rear door, quarter and liftgate windows are standard. The liftgate window is somewhat more transparent than the side windows for driver visibility. This glass, which is also used on Dakota, reduces the transmission of infrared energy 15 percent and ultraviolet energy by 2 to 4 percent compared to conventional tinted glass. For durability, the tinting agent is molded into the glass, rather than applied to the surface. Its use enhances exterior appearance because the glass has a dark color rather than a mirror-like finish. The absence of a mirror coating also improves outward visibility at night.

Conventional tinted glass is standard in all windows with SLT equipment. The windshield includes a customary deeply tinted upper band.


Roof Luggage Rack

A roof luggage rack with two movable crossbars and a black finish is standard on all models. Sturdy aluminum stanchions that support the crossbars ride in aluminum side rails. The rails nestle in shallow depressions created by the roof-to-side aperture panel seams. This location on the roof is very strong, allowing the rack to carry up to 150 pounds (68 kg). Tracks in the side rails retain the crossbar stanchions. A series of equally spaced holes pierced in each rail receives a movable locking pin on the stanchion to hold the crossbars in place. Hole spacing allows the stanchions to be placed side-by-side if desired. Crossbar adjustment is easy because the pushbutton locking mechanism has a detent in the free position. With both pins free, one person can easily slide the crossbars to any location along the side rails. Snap-in stops on the side rails prevent the crossbars from sliding off, but the rails can be removed by first removing the stops. Each crossbar stanchion includes two cargo tie-down loops. Each stanchion also has a raised guard that provides lateral restraint for lumber, ladders, or other items resting on the crossbars. The crossbars and stanchions are designed to support loads up to the capacity of the rack. Though the rack is designed to carry cargo on top of the crossbars, skid strips are installed between the side rails to protect the roof. Air foil-shaped crossbars ensure freedom from wind noise.

Corrosion Protection and Paint

Corrosion protection features are shared with Dakota. They include the following materials and procedures:

  • Exterior body panels other than the roof is galvanized or galvannealed to protect against corrosion
  • Bodies are thoroughly cleaned and treated with a phosphate coating by immersion
  • Primer application uses the same electro-coat (E-coat) process as other Chrysler Corporation vehicles for a uniform coating of all surfaces, including cavities and crevices. Besides providing an excellent base for adhesion of the finish topcoat paint, the E-coat is extremely resistant to corrosion

Anti-chip Primer

To deter paint chipping, a specially formulated epoxy polyester powder applied to all exterior body surfaces. This also reduces the potential for paint delamination due to ultraviolet radiation. Powder anti-chip primer is applied between primer and finish coats. Because it is powdered, its application produces no VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions.

Appearance Coats

Durango appearance coat materials and processes are shared with Dakota. Color coats are topped with a Clear Coat that adds brilliance, resists chipping and protects against attack airborne chemicals.

Paint Colors

Durango is available in the following nine colors, two of which are new to Chrysler Corporation for 1998:

  • New Chili Pepper Red Clear Coat
  • New Intense Blue Clear Coat
  • Forest Green Pearl Coat
  • Dark Chestnut Pearl Coat
  • Flame Red Clear Coat
  • Deep Amethyst Clear Coat
  • Light Driftwood Satin Glow
  • Black Clear Coat
  • Bright White Clear Coat

Exterior Ornamentation

The hood-mounted grille design is shared with Dakota. It is painted body color with SLT and SLT+ equipment. A grid texture of black TPO plastic, which makes the radiator/air conditioning evaporator less visible, is heat staked to the back of the ABS plastic grille. The grille is supported by a sturdy tubular bracket that is bolted to the hood. The hood-to-grille seam is neatly filled with a bead of black, nitrogen-expanded RTV sealer.

A black molded plastic cowl screen is the same as used on Dakota. It provides a decorative bridge over the space between the back of the hood and the windshield. It also conceals the windshield wiper mechanism and includes a grille that allows air to enter the cowl plenum but keeps out debris.

As on Dakota, molded TEO (thermo-elastic olefin) wheel flares are included with 31 x 10.5-inch tires. They effectively keep road splash off the body sides. The rear flares include separate door-mounted sections to complete the cross-sectional form on the forward sections. The flares are painted body color and attached with a combination of adhesive bonding on the outer surface and screws in the wheel openings. Adhesive bonding ensures an accurate fit and neat appearance with minimal corrosion potential. The flares are molded by a inert-gas injection process that produces a hollow cross section for reduced weight compared to a solidly molded part. The mold for the part has only an outer surface. The hollow interior of the molding is produced by injecting inert gas into the mold simultaneously with the molten plastic, forming a "core" provides the added benefits of uniform molding wall thickness and a uniform exterior surface.

Rearview Mirrors

Large area and outboard mounting on aerostyle arms give the mirrors an outstanding field of view. Power operation controlled by a switch on the driver's door is optional. For stability, the mirrors are attached to the reinforced pillar area of the door at the lower front corner of the window opening, rather than to the door outer panel. Mirror housing and arm shape minimize wind noise. The housings and arms are molded of impact and ultraviolet light-resistant black plastic for long life with good appearance. Their grained finish resists wax and dirt buildup to maintain long-term appearance.

The 6 x 9-inch power mirrors are the largest mirrors available in the class. Larger area and outboard mounting gives them a field of view unsurpassed by any vehicle in the class - 25 percent bigger than that provided by domestic competitors. Hinged mounting arms fold forward or back to resist damage. The normal position has a detent to permit easy reestablishment of normal mirror position after folding.

See also Power Mirrors under Secondary Controls below.

A conventional day-night inside rearview mirror is standard. An automatic dimming day-night mirror is available. These are the same mirrors used by Dakota. The automatic dimming mirror helps ease nighttime driving strain by reducing glare. It dims to the level needed while providing rearward visibility appropriate to operating conditions and allows the driver to concentrate on driving without concern for the glare of following headlamps. It has true gray-scale light absorption, becoming progressively darker as the intensity of incoming light increases and returning automatically to normal reflectance when intensity decreases. The mirror consists of a thin layer of electrochromic gel sandwiched between two pieces of glass. The amount of reflected light is reduced by darkening the gel. The intensity of incoming light is measured by a photocell and electronic circuitry in the mirror. A variable electrical current passing through the gel darkens it in proportion to the light intensity. The self-dimming feature may be turned on or off by pressing a button on the lower surface of the mirror housing. The button has a lighted band that shows when it is on. To aid visibility when backing up at night, the mirror automatically switches to full reflectance when the transmission is shifted into Reverse.

Exterior Lighting

Front lamp units are the same as used on Dakota. They are combined in a module for accurate alignment, appearance and ease of assembly. Each module includes an aerostyle headlight, an amber combination lamp and a clear faux lamp, all mounted on a carrier bracket. A molded rubber flap attached to the lamp module fills the gaps to the grille and hood for appearance.

Aerostyle headlamps with high-efficiency dual-filament bulbs provide outstanding performance. The headlamp lenses are made of polycarbonate plastic, which combines high-impact resistance with the crystalline appearance of glass. A conventional parabolic reflector and lens optics direct the light output down the road.

The combination lamp includes parking lamp, turn signal, and side marker functions. Two, dual-filament bulbs provide park and turn signal operation in each lamp; each side marker has a single bulb. The combination lamp and faux lamp housings are welded together. They are attached to the carrier by three concealed tabs and a single unobtrusive screw.

Taillamp, stoplamp, turn signal, side marker and backup lamp functions are combined in a three-bulb unit, which is the same as used on Chrysler minivans. At the top, a dual filament bulb provides taillamp and stoplamp functions. In the center, a dual filament bulb is used for taillamp and turn signal functions. Projection of light from this bulb through the side of the lens provides the side marker lamp function. On the bottom, the backup lamp bulb has a single filament. The backup lens is clear and has optical elements to distribute the light. The remainder of the lens is red and includes both rear and side reflector areas. The lamp has no visible fasteners. Mounting of the unit is accurate and simple. A tab on the lamp housing is inserted in a grommet in the quarter panel. The housing is retained by two screws accessible when the liftgate is open.

A three-bulb CHMSL mounts at the top of the liftgate window, behind a trim cover that matches the liftgate trim panel. Three bulbs are required to provide the mandated level of light output through the dark-tinted glass. A rubber lip on the housing rests against the glass to prevent light scatter. A license lamp is recessed in the rear fascia. This long, narrow unit provides required lighting for the license plate.

Available fog lamps are the same as those used on Dakota. They have round housings and stone chip-resistant plastic lenses. High-efficiency halogen bulbs in round housings provide excellent road coverage. These lamps are true fog lamps, not driving lamps, having a low wide beam that illuminates the area immediately ahead of the truck. They may be used with parking lamps, but without headlamps, to realize their full capability as fog lamps. They may also be operated as a supplement to the headlamps.


The sturdy frame-mounted front bumper system is the same as Dakota's. It provides protection for lamps, ornamentation and body sheet metal in standard 2.5-mph barrier and pendulum impacts and in 1.5 mph corner impacts. A molded plastic fascia attaches below the face bar. Concealed surfaces of the front bumper face bar are treated with a wax-base spray-on coating to resist corrosion.

The fascia is applied over a frame-mounted, stamped steel bumper beam. This combination should be inexpensive to repair in the event of a collision. The rear bumper beam provides protection in low-speed collisions exceeding 2.5 mph. A one-piece mold-in-color black step pad protects the top surface of the fascia and snaps into the bumper beam to hold the fascia in place. Snap-in fasteners also attach the bottom of the fascia to the beam. A recess in the fascia provides a mounting surface for the license plate. The fascia wraps around beneath the quarter panels all the way to the rear wheel openings. A steel bracket and molded plastic splash shield assembly attached to the frame supports the leading edge of the fascia on each side of the vehicle.

Wiper and Washer Systems

A semi-recessed windshield wiper system is integrated with the hood, plenum and windshield environment as on Dakota. Wiper operation is also the same as Dakota: two speeds with variable-delay intermittent operation on the lower speed. Six delay intervals from 0.5 to 18 seconds are provided. When vehicle speed is below 10 mph (6 km/h), normal wiper delay time is doubled. Adjusting the wiper delay to a shorter interval results in an immediate wipe.

Low-profile arms and blades provide a neat appearance. The motor, linkage and wiper arms are attached to a tubular frame mounted in the cowl plenum chamber through four 1.38-inch (35-mm) rubber isolators to minimize noise transmission to the cab.

Quietness is enhanced by placing the cycling relay that provides intermittent operation in the engine compartment. Noise level is equal to best-in-class. Modular assembly assures accurate positioning of the blades on the windshield for smooth, streak-free operation.

Parallel-action blades provide a wiped area that meets passenger car safety standards, there being no standard for trucks. Blades have the latest aerodynamic construction to assure effective wiping at highway speeds. The back of each blade is cut away to reduce weight and let air pass through. In addition, the back has an airfoil shape that provides a downward force to counteract wind lift. This construction is more effective and has better appearance than earlier aerodynamic blade systems.

Bolt-on wiper arms assure accurate alignment of the blades to the glass. Alignment marks molded into the windshield interliner at the base of glass facilitate precise installation on every truck. The arms and linkage are designed to prevent packed snow buildup at the base of the windshield from damaging the mechanism. Over-center wiper arm hinges allow the blades to stand off the glass for easy snow removal or cleaning of both glass and blades.

Dual, fluidic washer nozzles mounted on the cowl screen give best-in-class glass coverage for rapid cleaning with minimal fluid usage. Fluidic nozzles provide a spray of fine droplets that oscillates rapidly across the wiped area. Nozzle spray patterns are fine-tuned for even coverage and appropriate droplet size. The washer fluid reservoir capacity is 0.8 gallon (3.0 liters).

Rear Window Wiper and Washer System

The rear window wiper motor is expected to provide the quietest operation in its class - virtually undetectable by even third-seat passengers with the vehicle in motion. Quiet operation results from fine-tuning of the rubber-isolated three-point mounting system. Two mounts attach to the liftgate inner panel through the same extra-soft, oversize grommets used to support the windshield wiper mechanism. The third mount gets sandwiched between the nose of the motor and the outer panel where the output shaft exits. This stabilizes the motor for accurate alignment of the blade to the glass, minimizing the potential for blade chatter. The motor swings a 15.75-inch (400-mm) blade through a 125° arc, clearing a large portion of the glass. Blade and arm have the same construction as those on the windshield wipers for a consistent appearance. The rear wiper operates only in intermittent mode, controlled by an electronic timer integral with the motor.

The rear washer uses a single fluidic nozzle that is placed 0.4 inch (10 mm) aft of the glass. This subtle offset allows a wider spray pattern than flush-mounted nozzles. This helps ensure that washer fluid is projected onto the glass, not over it, for rapid, effective cleaning.

A capacious 0.8-gallon (3.0-liter) rear washer bottle (the same capacity as the front bottle) provides long intervals between refills. It is filled through a covered funnel that snaps into the liftgate drain channel outboard of the weatherstrip.

Door Systems and Sealing

Door and Liftgate Structure

Doors are assembled from full-stamped inner and outer panels adhesive bonded and hemmed together. Doors overlap the sills, eliminating a visible sill gap and helping to keep road splash off the inner sills. Outer panels are made of medium-strength steel to resist denting.

Stamped, one-piece, high-strength, low-alloy side-guard door beams also reinforce the door latch attachment. Door inner panels are stamped from dual-thickness laser-welded sheet metal. The forward portion of the panel, to which the hinges are bolted, is more than twice as thick as the remainder of the panel. This contributes to hinge mounting stability and a solid door closing sound. The inner panel is lighter than a single-thickness panel with a welded reinforcement. One-piece aperture panels in the body sides facing the doors contribute to consistency of door fit. Door lock pillars are boxed below the belt line to enhance striker mounting stability. These multi-purpose assemblies also support the shoulder belt turning loops.

Like the doors, the liftgate inner panel is stamped from laser-welded, dual-thickness sheet metal. This provides a liftgate structure that is lighter, simpler and more accurate than a traditional reinforced, multi-piece assembly. Heavier-gauge material in the upper half of the panel ensures ample strength while allowing a larger rear window for good rear visibility.

Door Mechanisms

Wide, low-profile outside door handles combine with recessed escutcheons to ensure clearance for large gloved hands. The handle return spring is attached opposite the latch lever, balancing loads to help make operation easy. Handles and escutcheons are molded in black, glass-reinforced nylon that has a grained finish designed to resist wax buildup for continued neat appearance.

Inside door handles are readily accessible at the forward end of the door armrests. They curve inboard for ample finger clearance and pivot vertically for easy operation. Each handle nests in a trim bezel that is assembled to the trim panel, rather than the door inner panel to provide accurate alignment and eliminate a visible fastener. The handle and bezel are black with all interiors. Large, rectangular manual lock buttons, which ride in pockets molded into the trim panels at the belt line, are easy to grip. A bright red arrow on the inner face of each lock button is visible when the door is unlocked.

New-generation door latches provide even smoother and quieter operation than those used on prior Chrysler vehicles, which were themselves among the best in the world. The latches maintain the features of the prior generation: low effort in release and closing accompanied by high strength. Plastic and plastic-encapsulated steel components assure quiet operation. Solid steel components are used only where required to ensure strength and durability. A loop striker on the body offers a "friendly" surface that is unlikely to snag one's clothing.

With optional power locks, the lock motors are integral with the latches. This helps minimize manual locking and unlocking effort because the key does not turn the locking motor.

Integral door-ajar switches are a feature of the new latches. They operate both courtesy lamps and the door ajar indicator in the instrument cluster.

Window Mechanisms

Semi-flush door glass and a unique glass-run design provide best-in-class appearance and minimize wind noise. Along the top and front of each door, the sealing lip of the molded rubber glass run is completely concealed by the door frame. At the rear of the window opening, a cantilever lip on the run presses against the glass to ensure a positive seal and present an aerodynamic transition to the door frame that helps minimize wind noise. When the window is rolled down, the lip folds into the opening for a neat appearance.

Manual window regulator handles are located high on the door for easy access. Their black low-profile handles have large matching molded knobs with knurled outer diameters for easy operation. The door trim panels are sculptured for clearance to the manual regulator handles. Lightweight cable and drum window regulators on all four doors provide smooth operation. The same basic mechanism is used with both manual and power windows.

With power windows, which are expected to constitute 87 percent of production volume, the manual crank is directly replaced by the motor. A molded plastic slider driven by the cable raises and lowers each window. A vertical post that has the same curvature as the glass guides the slider. A steel lift plate bonded to the base of each window attaches it to the slider. Bonding, rather than bolting, the lift plate to the glass increases the stability and strength of the assembly. Front and rear channels inside each door provide additional guidance.

See Secondary Controls under Body Interior.

Liftgate Mechanisms

Computer-designed liftgate geometry and temperature-compensated gas props ensure smooth, easy operation under all ambient temperature conditions. Temperature compensation is provided by a valve in each gas prop that opens at high ambient temperatures to prevent the buildup of gas pressure that makes closing effort excessive in conventional gas props. When closed at low temperatures, the valve ensures sufficient pressure is always available to hold the liftgate open. Double-pivot hinges are concealed beneath the liftgate outer panel for a neat appearance.

A black mold-in-color outside handle releases the liftgate latch. Pulling up on the paddle-type handle also raises the liftgate in the same motion. The liftgate latch may be locked with a key, with a power lock switch or with the available remote keyless entry transmitter.

A two-stage latch on the liftgate is similar to that used on front doors. The latch grips a high-strength wedge-shaped striker that helps stabilize the liftgate in the opening, minimizing the potential for BSRs. Additional stabilization, both laterally and longitudinally, is provided by molded blocks attached to the sides of the liftgate that pilot in molded rubber blocks on the pillars.

An easily accessible inside handle aids in closing the liftgate. The handle has an easy-to-use pass-through grip and is recessed in the trim panel to avoid reducing cargo volume. Fully open position of the liftgate will clear the head of a six-footer but is within reach of a person under five-feet-tall.

Weather Stripping

A body-mounted tubular weather strip encircles each door opening to provide primary sealing against wind noise and water leaks. Three additional weather strips enhance door sealing. A body-mounted weather strip with tandem tubular sections runs up the windshield pillar and across the tops of the doors for wind noise reduction. A lip-type weather strip attached to the leading edge of each rear door above the belt-line prevents wind noise and acts as a sight shield. A tubular weather strip attached to the back of each rear door between the top and the belt line also handles wind noise. A lip seal attached to the bottoms of all doors keeps road splash off the inner sills and blocks wind and road noise. The door weather strips have inboard lips that overlap the interior trim in some areas of the openings to provide continuity across the interface.

The liftgate is sealed by a full-perimeter tubular weather strip attached to a raised flange surrounding the opening. An additional weather strip across the top of the opening between the hinges helps prevent water that might accumulate above the perimeter weather strip from entering the cargo area and also helps prevent wind noise. The liftgate weather strip includes a secondary tubular section that presses against the interior trim to provide continuity across the interface.

Click here for the main Durango page

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