When you know what to look for, buying a used vehicle doesn’t have to be intimidating. Our team here in Pottsville, PA, at Bob Weaver Auto, has done the hard work for you. We have put together an overview of each manufacturing year for the popular Dodge Durango. Back in the late 90’s when the Dodge Durango was first released, it fit into a very unique class of vehicles. At the time, there were two opposite sizes of SUVs available on the market--large and bulky or small and inconvenient. Dodge decided to create an option that meshed the best parts of both worlds into one vehicle. They combined a more manageable sized SUV that still had an impressive amount of passenger and cargo space.
First Generation (1998-2003)
The original 1998 model of the Durango was powered by their standard 3.9-liter V6 producing 175 horsepower and 225 ft. lbs. of torque. Additionally, they offered a 5.2-liter V8 with 230 horsepower and 300 ft. lb. of torque and a 5.9-liter V8 which produced 245 horsepower and 335 ft. lb. of torque. All three engines were paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. When properly equipped, it could tow a maximum of 7,500 lbs. It had the ability to seat up to eight passengers and came standard with a 12V DC Power Outlet, AM/FM Radio, Cassette Player and Roof Rack. Some of the most popular add-on items were Skid Plates, Rear Air Conditioning, Cruise Control, and CD Player.
In 1999, a two-wheel drive (rear-wheel-only) option was made available. New heated rear view mirrors and steering wheel-mounted radio controls were available options that were added this year. The SLT Plus Models had leather seats added as a standard feature, this year as well.
For the year 2000, an all-new 4.7-liter V8 engine replaced the 5.2 V8 as the standard engine for all four-wheel drive options. The 3.9-liter V6 was also discontinued, leaving only V8 engines available to purchase. Two new trim levels were also added for this year of production including the high-performance R/T trim which featured a standard performance-tuned 5.9-liter V8 and all-wheel drive. The Sport trim was the other trim added in 2000 which introduced a more stylish sporty look in comparison to the other trim options.
2001 was the year that Dodge put its focus solely on upgrading the interior of the Durango. Included in this new focus was an updated instrument cluster, the addition of a standard dual-zone climate-control system, and an updated transfer case selector on 4x4 models to a switch conveniently located on the dash. An updated Sound System with six speakers became standard on all models.
The new SXT version of the Durango was offered in 2002, as the entry-level trim package, replacing the SLT from previous years. This was also the year that the Durango got optional four-wheel disc brakes, and added optional side curtain airbags for extra safety. Additionally, in 2002, a five-speed transmission replaced the previous four-speed. A DVD video entertainment system was also offered as an option this year.
The final year in this generation was 2003. At the end of the first generation of the Durango, there were a total of five different trims. The Sport, SXT, SLT, and SLT Plus. The R/T trim was the most powerful trim offered and was well equipped for any family off-road adventure. Regardless of which trim was chosen, in 2003, even the base (sport) trim included upgrades such as a CD Player, air conditioning, alloy wheels, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, and four-wheel disc brakes came standard for all models.
Second Generation (2004-2009)
2004 marked the first year for the second-generation Durango. One of the biggest complaints that consumers had for the previous generation was the rear leaf springs were creating a rougher ride. The major improvement that Dodge made for this generation was replacing the leaf springs with coil springs to dampen the previously too solid, rear axle. They were also able to revise some mechanical arrangements under the vehicle to create more usable interior space. For the new generation they offered three available trim levels. They also released three available engine options, bringing back one V6 option along with two V8 options. Each engine option had the ability to be paired with either rear- or four-wheel drive. The V6 was coupled with a four-speed automatic transmission, whereas the two V8s were paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. The most powerful engine offered was the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 which produced an impressive 335 horsepower and 370 ft. lb. of torque. Available to add across the board was stability control and traction control. Lastly, the premium two trims had Bluetooth, DVD-based video systems, and available satellite radio available.
For 2005, Dodge added the SLT Adventurer trim which featured a distinguished Thule roof rack, cargo compartment liner, slush mats, side steps and body side molding created specifically for off-road adventures. Heated seats became available for all Durangos this year and navigation was also offered as an available feature for the Limited trim only.
Traction control, stability control, satellite radio and the DVD entertainment system became standard on the Limited trim in 2006. The higher trims also had the ability to now add a power liftgate and remote start. The last thing that was updated for this year was that the most powerful of the three engines in the Durango lineup were given the ability to shut down four of its cylinders during certain situations to optimize its fuel economy.
After being in production for three years in the current generation, the Durango got a much-needed facelift inside and out for 2007. The base model came standard with full power accessories, air-conditioning, cruise control, and an AM/FM/CD stereo. The highest trim came standard with luxurious features such as a six-disc CD player, dual-zone automatic climate control, and leather seating. Additional upgrades were also made available, like a sunroof, and rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
For the year 2008 a rear backup camera was introduced along with a new infotainment system. The 4.7-liter V8 was also redesigned to produce a better horsepower and torque rating.
In 2009, the most notable change in the Durango lineup was the addition of a Hybrid trim.
Third Generation (2011 - 2020)
Unfortunately, due to manufacturing plant changes, the production for the Durango was temporarily stopped for a year. However, a whole new model was redesigned and released in the year 2011. One of the largest improvements for this generation was its transition from a “body on frame” design to a unibody construction. Because of this update, the overall ride and handling experience was vastly improved. The interior was drastically improved and focused more on a high-end, luxurious functionality and feel. The trim names were also overhauled and engine function got a large re-design as well. The biggest change in engine functionality was that the two V8 engines’ four-wheel drive option now included an added low-range gearing powertrain.
In the 2012 and 2013 years of production there were only minor updates for the Durango, allowing the design team enough time to do another small facelift to be rolled-out in 2014.
In 2014 the Durango took up a new sport-centered style. With sleeker body lines, single ‘racetrack’ styled tail lights and available blackened trim, it took on a whole new chic feel. The interior instrument cluster, shift knob, and steering wheel were all re-worked and updated to match the sophistication of the exterior. The 7-inch configurable display was also added in this year’s model.
The addition of the Premium R/T trim became available in 2015. This model featured many upgraded features including; a nine-speaker sound system with subwoofer, Premium Radar Red Nappa Leather Seats, HID (High Intensity Discharge) low beams, and a 5.7-liter HEMI paired with a newly available eight-speed transmission.
The Largest update for 2016 was the new Pentastar V6 engine with added Stop/Start ability along with some additional technological upgrades allowing the engine to become more fuel efficient along with enhancing its overall performance.
For 2017, no major upgrades were performed.
The new Uconnect Radios were released in 2018, creating a much easier and more up-to-date infotainment functionality and usability. The 3rd generation ZF 8-speed Automatic Transmission was also made standard for all Durango models for this year.
For 2019, the integrated trailer brake controller was added to one of the Towing Package options. It was also this year that the GT Plus trim was added to the already impressive Durango Lineup. This trim took things just a bit farther and added tons of standard luxurious interior features such as, heated front and second row seats, a heated steering wheel, power liftgate, 150W inverter and 6-way passenger power seat with a 4-way lumbar adjustment.
We hope that this specialized Durango Used Buying Guide will take the stress out and put the fun back into car buying for you and your family!