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The Dodge Durango Concept

The Dodge Durango concept car showed the basic outlines of the upcoming 2004 Durango, in early 2003. Dodge said at the time that the concept was about 85 percent of the production level exterior design. It is three inches longer, three inches taller, and four and a half inches wider than the current Durango, with a 15% larger interior that has greater head, shoulder, and hip room - with seats for seven people. A fold-flat cargo floor gives the Durango the ability to carry 48 inch wide sheets of plywood between the wheel wells.

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The Hemi remains with 345 horses and 375 lb-ft of torque, along with a 10% increase in gas mileage over the current and less powerful 5.9 liter (360) engine. It is coupled to a "new" heavy duty five-speed automatic, about which we know little. The concept car has an electronic transfer case with a low range.

As with the Chevy TrailBlazer, the Durango has a hydroformed frame for better stiffness and ride quality. The Durango Concept features an all-new independent front suspension with a rack-and-pinion steering system for an even more precise feel. An all-new rear suspension with coil springs and a solid rear axle delivers a smooth ride, yet maintains durability, payload and towing capability. A Watt link system is fitted to the rear axle, centering the axle and reducing rear-end skate over rough surfaces.

Safety features include available side curtain air bags for all three rows of seating, a tire-pressure monitoring system, adjustable pedals and standard four-wheel disc ABS brakes. A center mounted, three-point shoulder belt is incorporated into the second row seating area. Driver enhancements include a navigational system, and a hands-free cellular phone system utilizing Bluetooth technology.

Dodge claims that the new Durango will be among the best-handling SUVs. The concept car is "approximately 85-percent of the production level exterior design."

Exterior design

The 2003 Dodge Durango Concept silhouette is unique among SUVs, with short overhangs, accentuated wheel arches and a dramatically sloping windshield that reinforces the sport in sport utility. The Durango Concept design has the mechanical presence of the original Dodge Power Wagon but its satin silver accents, body color billet aluminum grille and single headlamp covers hiding dual lights create a contemporary look. Design chief (formerly of Audi) Trevor Creed said that they used the Hemi muscle cars of the 1960s for design cues, such as functional dual hood scoops, while exposed rivets "provide a mechanical connection to the long-standing strength of Dodge trucks."

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Flared wheel arches and drop shoulder fenders provide a visual energy that transitions power from the massive grille to the rear of the vehicle. The strength of the wheel flares and the 21-inch wheels and 50-Series tires add visual heft to the design. The lower side fascia and sills blend the power from the front wheel arches into the rear wheel housings.

The rear design of the Dodge Durango Concept is as distinctive and powerful as its front grille. The silhouette is funneled into the integrated rear optics, with frenched "afterburner" tail lamps that recall the 1999 Dodge Power Wagon pickup concept vehicle. The distinctive rear fascia design includes dual rear exhausts tipped in satin finish aluminum.


The design philosophy behind the 2003 Dodge Durango Concept is a surface structure based on pure geometry. Surface sections are made up of more constant radii delivering a cleaner and simpler overall form.

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When you look at the interior of the Durango concept, it is very similar to the production Durango, with one major exception - the seat colors, which were echoed in the production Commander.

"An SUV has certain interior requirements, and space, storage and driving position are paramount," said Trevor Creed. "The goal was to accomplish this with a clean and precise design, simple yet elegant and upscale. We started with a clean slate to create an interior design that is uncluttered and crisp, with highly legible instruments and upscale materials. The Dark Slate leather is offset with Adobe accents, providing for a rich interior look." The result is a far cry from the Audi TT - far more elegant and less kitschy.

Second row rear seats have more leg, shoulder and hip room and a recline feature. A new integrated three-point seat belt system was designed for the middle passenger and allows for safer child-seat installation. Second-row rear seat passengers also get their own climate controls and a DVD entertainment system. Third row seats also feature more leg, shoulder and hip room and the fold-flat load floor provides 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 has been increased to 48 inches for added carrying capacity.

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Creed said, "Our owners spend more and more time in their vehicles, so we spent extra time on the detail work. We added a large and usable ‘fast food- bin at the base of the center stack for extra storage room. The Neoprene-lined cup holders secure drinks while in motion. A depression in front of the armrest houses a cellular phone and its charging cord feeds into the armrest where a power outlet is located. This cleans up the interior, yet provides the convenience our customers expect."

The clean and elegant look of the interior begins at the top of the door where a continuous line curves to meet the dash, providing a flush, finished look. The new instrument panel cluster features a large, centrally located speedometer and white-faced gauges that provide a connection to Dodge performance vehicles. An all-new navigation unit takes prominence in the stack and also provides stereo controls. A redesigned HVAC control panel includes a new three-zone climate control system.

The steering wheel features a powerful four-spoke shield design, evoking an understated power. The vertical edges of the dash drop down to the center stack to divide the driver and passenger seating areas and Venetian blind style air vents close flush and provide a cleaner appearance.

Roominess is the key element to the Dodge Durango Concept's interior. Passengers sit one inch higher than in the current Durango. Shoulder, hip, elbow and headroom have all been increased. The all-new driver and passenger seats are heated and power adjustable pedals provide an optimal driving position for a wide array of drivers.

Dodge Durango Hemi R/T Concept Car Specifications

Engine: 5.7 Hemi, 345 horses and 375 lb-ft of torque

Transmission: 5-45 RFE five-speed automatic hooked up to four wheel drive

Suspension: Multi-link, independent front; coil springs and solid axle, rear; 265/50R21 tires

Colors: Liquid Graphite Metallic paint with Dark Slate Gray interior (Adobe accents)


Wheelbase: 119.2 inches

Overall Length: 197.2 inches

Overall Width: 76.5 inches

Overall Height: 71.8 inches

Front Track: 64.4 inches

Rear Track: 64.4 inches

See our main concept cars page.

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Concept cars are often made so a car's feel can be evaluated, problems can be foreseen, and reactions of the public can be judged. Some concepts test specific ideas, colors, controls, or materials - either subtle or out of proportion, to hide what's being tested. Some are created to help designers think "out of the box." The Challenger, Prowler, PT Cruiser, and Viper were all tested as production-based concepts dressed up to hide the production intent.

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