Well before the acquisition of Jeep in the 1980s, Dodge was the Chrysler corporation's flagship brand when it came to trucks, SUVs and other off-road vehicles. Dodge not only served the commercial market, but the company also handled orders from the U.S. Army and other branches of service for specialty trucks which were able to slog it out across the worst possible terrain. While the company would experiment with offering passenger versions of its various panel trucks throughout the 1950s and 1960s, with the most notable example being the Dodge Town Wagon, the company never really pursued the sport-utility market with the same aplomb as Chevrolet and GMC did with the Suburban and the Carryall.
It wasn't until 1974 that Dodge decided to make a serious effort at expanding their presence in the SUV world. Using their pickup truck platform as a starting point, the company produced a vehicle called the Ramcharger, essentially a clone of the big-bodied Chevrolet Blazer and Ford Bronco that had begun to achieve considerable sales momentum. The Ramcharger would prove a profitable vehicle for the company and it would be produced virtually unchanged for the next 20 years. Never offered in a four-door version, the Ramcharger was retired in 1993 when it became clear that the market was moving towards trucks with a higher passenger capacity.
Dodge's next foray into the SUV world was perceived by some to be a bit of a step backward. The Dodge Durango, although an effective people mover, was not nearly as capable an off-road vehicle as the Ramcharger had been. It was also smaller, based on a stretched mid-size platform that seated more passengers but was not as robust as the departed SUV. 4x4 purists might have lamented the passing of their favorite Dodge, but the Durango quickly gathered steam and became a strong seller for the company. Eventually, however, the Durango's small size began to work against it, as full-size SUVs from other automakers gathered more and more of the media spotlight - and most importantly, a larger percentage of consumer dollars.
For 2004, Dodge decided that it was time to upsize the Durango and begin competing on a whole new level. Everything about the truck was updated, including adding a stronger frame, bolder bodywork and an improved interior. The new Durango left its mid-size origins behind and has become the best used full-size sport utility vehicle to wear the Dodge logo. This article examines the 2004 - 2007 Dodge Durango in order to help potential buyers evaluate whether it is deserving of a spot in their driveway.
2004 - 2007 Dodge Durango
Whereas the previous edition of the vehicle straddled the line between mid and full-size, the 2004 - 2007 Dodge Durango is a behemoth firmly entrenched as an extended-wheelbase competitor. The Durango's looks have also been altered, casting away the wide-mouthed grille for a more imposing riff on the full-size Ram pickup's front end, matched with smoother flowing lines from front to back and well-defined wheel arches. Styling was updated somewhat in 2007 in response to customer demand for a less brutal-looking truck.
Also new for 2004 is the availability of a V-6 engine in the base model. Displacing 3.9-liters, it is capable of producing 210 horsepower and 235 lb-ft of torque. While this option might be tempting to some buyers thanks to its fuel economy numbers, the Durango is a heavy vehicle which makes the next step up - a 4.7-liter V-8 which offers a much more substantial 290 lb-ft of torque - a better choice. The top of the line Durango is of course outfitted with a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine that punches out 335 horsepower. V-8 engines feature a 5-speed automatic transmission, while the V-6 makes do with a 4-speed auto. The Durango can be ordered in either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive configurations, depending upon its intended use.
The interior room of the 2004 - 2007 Dodge Durango is much improved over its predecessor. The third row of seating is a prime beneficiary of the SUV's growth spurt, and the mechanism to fold the rear seats down to take full advantage of the vehicle's 102 cubic feet of cargo space has also been streamlined. Base models come with cloth seats and a CD player, but the upscale Limited trim level offers leather seats, climate controls front and rear, a DVD entertainment system for passengers and a range of power equipment designed to make driver's lives easier.
The 2004 - 2007 Dodge Durango is a completely different beast when compared to its predecessor, and it presents a fresh face in the world of used full-size SUV's.