Dodge is a vehicle brand that falls under the Chrysler Group family of auto manufacturers. Dodge was established in 1914, and from the brand’s inception, Dodge became known as a maker of light trucks. Dodge trucks and Dodge pickups, which later became known for the ram head logo, grew to a large and diverse family of truck offerings, which naturally evolved to include high demand sport utility vehicles, since the SUV category was originally based on truck platforms. It gets interesting because the first models of Dodge pickup trucks were based on existing passenger car platforms, but as consumers came to expect more strength and versatility from their trucks, Dodge trucks grew to have dedicated chassis and more suitable body designs, which eventually led the Dodge SUV strategy. After World War II, Dodge introduced four-wheel-drive options on some of its truck models, and also introduced some civilian trucks that were based on military designs and technology. The brand was also an innovator in making its trucks more appealing to the casual truck driver, insight that was especially useful when it came time to design the first Dodge sport utility vehicles.
A lot of Dodge sport utility vehicles have shared platforms, designs, and mechanical components with SUV models from the Chrysler and Jeep brands. The Dodge Durango is one such example. The Durango was introduced as a mid size sport utility vehicle, with seating capacity for seven occupants, in 1998, and remained in that class until it was reclassified as a full size SUV for the 2004 model year, even though both the first and second generation of the Durango were based on Dodge’s Dakota pickup truck, enabling Dodge to tout the Durango’s body-on-frame strength. For the third generation of the Dodge Durango, the vehicle was moved to the same platform as the Jeep Grand Cherokee with unibody construction. The first two generations of the Durango were produced in Newark, Delaware, but assembly of the third generation was moved to Detroit, Michigan, where this Dodge sport utility vehicle is still being produced.
For the 2007 model year, a new compact Dodge SUV, the Nitro, was introduced. The Dodge Nitro, which was discontinued in 2012, was virtually identical to the Jeep Liberty. In fact, the Nitro was produced alongside the Liberty at a Jeep assembly facility in Toledo, Ohio. The Dodge Nitro marked the brand’s reintroduction to the European market, and served as Dodge’s entry level SUV until the launch of the Dodge Journey. The Journey, a crossover SUV, is still in production, and is assembled at a Chrysler facility in Mexico.