Midsize SUV; Built in USA
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $2,100 – $6,700*


1998 Dodge Durango


1998 Dodge Durango


1998 Dodge Durango interior


1998 Dodge Durango


2000 Dodge Durango 4 x 4 Sport

Pros:
  • Acceleration (5.9-liter V8)
  • Optional antilock braking
  • Cargo room
  • Passenger room
Cons:
  • Acceleration (V6)
  • Fuel economy
  • Rear-seat comfort

Despite a few demerits, Durango is a well-designed truck that approaches full-size models for brawn and space, and therefore deserves strong consideration as a late-model, secondhand SUV.

Overview

Based on Dodge’s Dakota pickup truck, the Durango debuted as a distinctively sized 4-door sport-utility vehicle. Priced against midsize SUVs, but larger in dimensions, Durango matched some full-size models with its available 8-passenger seating and V8 engine. Dodge had not offered an SUV since the Ramcharger wagon, dropping in 1993. Front styling and the dashboard are the same as in the Dakota, but Durango got different seats and other interior features. Only a 4-wheel-drive Durango went on sale in the first year, with a choice of two V8 engines: standard 5.2- or optional 5.9-liter. Not intended for use on dry pavement, the standard part-time on-demand 4WD system had shift-on-the-fly capability. A full-time system that could be left engaged at all times was optional. Front bucket seats and a 3-place rear bench were standard. A front bench was offered as a no-cost option. Durangos could also be equipped with a 2-place third-row bench. Center and rear seats were not removable, but folded flat to create 88 cubic feet of cargo space. With the 5.9-liter V8, a Durango could tow up to 7300 pounds, ranking in the same league as some full-size SUVs. Dual front airbags and antilock rear brakes were standard. Full 4-wheel antilocking was optional.Though Durango is unique in size, its rivals included the Chevrolet Blazer, Ford Explorer, and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Yearly Updates

1999 Durango
A 2-wheel-drive Durango joined the original 4WD model for 1999, and a V6 engine became available. Additional standard equipment included cruise control, tilt steering, remote keyless entry, power locks, and power windows. An SLT option package now included leather upholstery, steering-wheel radio controls and (when ordered on the 4WD model) 31-inch wheels and tires. Heated mirrors were new options. A redesigned overhead console gained reading lights. Both 4WD systems had shift-on-the-fly capability. The base 4WD setup could be used only on slippery surfaces. A more costly 4WD option could be left engaged on dry pavement.
2000 Durango
A completely different engine went into 4-wheel-drive Durangos this year. Borrowed from the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the new 4.7-liter V8 produced 235 horsepower and replaced the former 5.2-liter V8. It also used a different automatic transmission. That 5.2-liter engine remained standard on 2WD Durangos, and vehicles equipped with the SLT option package could have the 5.9-liter, 245-horsepower V8. The V6 engine slipped away. All models gained Chrysler’s Enhanced Accident Response system, which lights the interior and unlocks power door locks when airbags deploy. A revised front suspension with rack-and-pinion steering went into this season’s 4x4s. The SLT package included body-color exterior trim and fog lamps. The SLT Plus package, for 4WD models, added leather upholstery and 31-inch tires with wheel-arch flares.
2001 Durango
In 2001, the Durango lost its available 230-horsepower 5.2-liter V8 engine, but gained interior revisions, including a new dashboard with an oil-level indicator, a new center console, and a dashboard control for the 4-wheel-drive system.
2002 Durango
Dodge’s SUV gained optional curtain side airbags and a DVD entertainment system for 2002.
2003 Durango
Standard 4-wheel disc brakes highlighted changes to the 2003 Durango as Dodge readied a redesigned replacement as a 2004 model.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear- or 4-wheel drive

Durangos initially came with a choice of two V8 engines: 5.2-liter and 230 horsepower, or 5.9-liter with 245 horsepower. A 4-speed automatic was the only transmission offered. For 1999, a 3.9-liter V6 engine became available, developing a more modest 175 horsepower, but it lasted only one season. For 2000, a new 4.7-liter overhead-cam V8 became standard in 4WD models, the 5.2-liter V8 continued in 2WD Durangos, and the 5.9 V8 was optional with the SLT option group. In 2001, the 230-horsepower 5.2-liter V8 was no longer available.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.9/239
Engine HP 175
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 225
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

15/18

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.2/318
Engine HP 230
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 300
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

13/17

12.4

ohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.7/287
Engine HP 235
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 295
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

14/17

12.1

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.9/360
Engine HP 245
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 335
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

12/16

11.2

Road Test

Durango feels more like a large car than a truck, delivering a ride that’s absorbent and composed even on bumpy roads, with little bouncing. Despite the usual SUV body lean and nose-plowing in quick turns, Durango does not feel ponderous. Directional stability is generally good, though steering is vague around center and a lot of correction may be needed to stay on course at highway speeds.

V8 engines are smooth and quiet. Vigor is adequate with the 4.7- and 5.2-liter, but they lack a strong punch at low speeds for quick getaways. The 5.9-liter V8 has a huskier tone and feels stronger off the line and in passing situations. In city/highway driving, we got a modest 12.4 mpg from a Durango with the 5.2-liter V8. A Durango with the 5.9-liter V8 managed only 11.2 mpg.

Durango uses its size well, providing generous shoulder width and head room. Squeezing eight seats into a vehicle the size of a midsize car is no small feat, but Dodge managed it in the Durango. Be warned, though: The third seat is better for children than adults. Second-row seats have thin padding that is less supportive than the more-substantial cushions used by many rivals. Cargo space behind the third seat, measuring 18.8 cubic feet, is adequate for a few small suitcases or a week’s worth of groceries. Center and rear seats fold flat in seconds, for a handy alternative to removable seats that opens up ample cargo room.

All 4WD models have a floor-mounted transfer case lever, which is something of a stretch for the driver. The dashboard is simple and convenient, but thick side pillars and rear headrests impede rear vision. Also on the negative side, the climate-control system will not feed air to floor and face vents simultaneously. Workmanship is solid and thorough, but black plastic trim over the gauge cluster and main dashboard controls feels cheap and flimsy, and the inside door panels look plain.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2002 Dodge Durango base 4WD 4.7-liter V8

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 5
50%
Fuel Economy - 2
20%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 3
30%
Quietness - 4
40%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 8
80%
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
60%
Cargo Room - 8
80%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 54

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
115.9 193.3 71.5 72.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
88.0 25.0 8
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.8 40.4 41.9 37.3
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Durango 4-door wagon

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 95
Injury 73
Theft 198

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: The air conditioner gradually becomes less effective, which may require a new evaporator. (1998-99)
Engine misfire
Description: If the spark plug wires are misrouted, the engine may knock, the cylinders may misfire, and the vehicle surges (which may feel like a transmission problem) around 45 mph. (1998-99)
Keyless entry
Description: The remote keyless entry system doesn’t work due to a problem with the transmitter case. (1999)
Steering noise
Description: The steering column makes popping noises and feels rough during parking maneuvers. (1998-00)
Suspension noise
Description: Front ball joints wear prematurely forcing relacement of lower control arm as well. Replacement joint with grease fitting is now available. (1998-03)
Suspension noise
Description: A rhythmic squeaking noise from the front of 2-wheel-drive trucks is likely due to a warped front hub, not the rotor, usually after a brake job. (1997-99)
Vehicle noise
Description: Squeaks from the front wheels may be caused by a loose spindle retaining nut. (1999)
Water leak
Description: Power locks may lock/unlock spontaneously because water leaks into the lock cylinder. (2000-03)

Recall History

1998
Description: Fastener that secures generator cable has insufficient clamp load, resulting in a loose connection and electrical arcing; could result in fire.
1998
Description: Rear-brake tube can contact underbody crossmember, eventually wearing a hole in the tube that could reduce braking from rear wheels.
1998-00
Description: Sound-deadening material inside the steering wheel could become detached from the cover and housing causing the the driver-airbag system to become disabled. The airbag-warning lamp will illuminate on the instrument panel.
1998-99
Description: Fuel-tank strap can separate due to fatigue during vehicle operation, causing tank to be unsupported.
1999
Description: The front-seatbelt retractor does not comply with the requirements of the standard. If the retractor does not work properly, it will not adequately protect occupants in the event of a crash.
2000-01
Description: Some of the owner’s manuals for these vehicles are missing instructions for properly attaching a child restraint system’s tether strap to the tether anchorage.
2000-03 w/4WD
Description: If moisture leaks into front suspension upper ball joint, evacuation of the lubricant and corrosion may cause the joint to wear over an extended time period; could cause clunking noise and possible separation that may result in loss of control.
2001 w/4WD
Description: Electric shift-transfer case may not fully engage into gear, causing the transfer case to end up in the neutral position.
2001-02 Dodge Durango with automatic transmission
Description: The transmission lever may potentially be shifted out of park with the key removed and without depressing the brake pedal, or the key may be removed when the shifter is not in park which fails to comply with Federal regulations. Dealers will replace the gearshift blocker and bracket assembly.
2002-03
Description: Windshield wiper motor may be susceptible to water intrusion that could cause internal corrosion, resulting in partial or total loss of wiping capability.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.