Monday, August 4, 2014

Used Car Review - Dodge Durango (2000-2004)

Myk Belmonte explores this rather unnoticed 4x4 in the market.

2000-2004 Dodge Durango

Before the Philippine market got the pick-up truck based SUV fever just 10 years ago, the Yanks had theirs in the 70s to the 90s. Dodge was first in this trend with the Ramcharger based on the D Series/Ram pick-up trucks made available in 1974, Chevrolet's S-10 Blazer was based on its namesake S-10 pick-up truck first launched in 1983, and Ford's Bronco introduced in 1984 whose underpinnings were derived from the Ranger. The 90s era Ford Explorer and Dodge Durango are based from the Ranger and Dakota trucks respectively. The shift to crossovers plus the diminishing market for compact pick-up trucks had ended an era of these species in the US, except for the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe that are based on the Silverado.

Preceding the Ramcharger which was discontinued in 1993, the first generation Durango was first sold in 1998 only available in 4WD, with a 2WD option and a V6 engine followed suit the following year. Unlike the Blazer and Explorer, it did offer an optional third row seat which was an advantage especially larger SUVs like the Suburban and Expedition had them. While it was a popular pick, the end of its shelf life had refined SUVs entering to the scene, which necessitated a redesign for 2003.

The guys at Norkis Automotive Resources Corporation, who ditched Daewoo distribution in the early 2000s, launched the Durango in 2000. It was first available in 4WD with a 2WD version made available in October 2001. While the world has the second generation model available, Norkis sold them until 2004 with the following model being distributed by CATS Motors the following year.

Value and Costs
American SUVs aren't exactly known for their residual values, so expect to pick up a second hand Durango between P270,000-P450,000.

While parts availability may be limited due to the lack of support by Norkis, independent shops specializing Chryslers and American vehicles as a whole had spouted so be friends with them. Since this era of Chrysler vehicles aren't exactly known for their reliability, have a mechanic inspect the various parts so you'll have a worry free driving.

Exterior and Interior
Butch and brash, these are the words to describe the Durango's exterior. Although it may possess smaller dimensions as against the Expedition, it has imposing looks that will scare off other motorists. Park this one side by side with a 1997-2003 Dakota and you'll notice the similarities, which is because they share the same underpinnings.

Philippine market Durangos can accommodate 8 people, all front facing. The driver and the front passenger can move their legs, thanks to the automatic gear stick being situated behind the steering wheel. For those who wouldn't want to share seats upfront, the center console composed of two cupholders and some storage bins are present. While the gauges are big, radio and climate controls would require time to master as they are small.

In the US, there is an option for a sole V6 and two V8s, depending on the year model. In the local context, we do get the 4.7 V8 from the PowerTech engine family carrying 235hp at 4,800rpm and 379Nm at 3,200rpm which replaced the 5.2 Magnum V8 in the home market. Don't let the small displacement turn you off, it is more efficient than the engine it replaced plus it offers gobs of power from a wide range of power band.

Driving Impressions
Despite weighing 2,200kg and having a small V8 engine, the Durango can surpass the distance by providing safe steering but handling isn't a strength. Ride quality wouldn't be tops especially one must consider its truck based roots.

If you prefer your SUV American and like your style brute, then a used Durango would suit your preference. However, do remember that there are shortcomings that you must accept during your ownership experience.
The Good:
  • Spacious cabin
  • Power
  • Rugged looks
The Bad: 
  • Thirsty for fuel
  • Poor ride quality
  • Handling isn't the best
The Pick: 4.7 V8

Engine: 4,698cc PowerTech V8 gasoline
Power: 235hp @ 4,800rpm
Torque: 379Nm @ 3,200rpm
Fuel Consumption: 4-6km/L (city), 7-9km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front double wishbone, rear rigid axle with leaf springs

Price (New): P2,700,000
Price (Now): P270,000-P450,000
Rivals: Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition
On Sale: 2000-2005

North American Automotive Service Center - (02) 571-1593

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