The Dodge Durango is like the Dodge Dakota; it was meant to fill a gap in the market. Since this time, it went through a lot of changes, but it is beginning to show its age. The competition has had its redesigns, making it look a bit like a dinosaur. Add to that the terrible gas mileage and the Durango looks even less appealing. There’s no denying, however, that this is a handsome vehicle with a lot to offer. The large V-8 engine is very capable, the transmission is refined, and the ride quality is wonderful. The handsome exterior isn’t bad either. Drivers may end of with a Durango if the pickings are slim, and that’s not a bad thing, but if you have the opportunity to shop around a bit, look for an updated vehicle offered by the competition.
Body Style: midsize SUV
Engines: 4.7-liter V-8, 5.9-liter V-8
Transmissions: five-speed automatic, four-speed automatic
Models: Sport, SXT, SLT, SLT Plus, R/T
The 2003 Dodge Durango entry-level Sport trim line receives 16-inch wheels, upgrading the previous year’s 15-inchers. All models now have four-wheel disc brakes as well. New options include a six-disc CD changer. Everything else has remained the same since a 2004 redesign was in the works.
The 2003 Dodge Durango shares the same design from the windshield to the front of the vehicle as the Dakota. The rest has the typical handsome SUV styling expected from the Durango. It has a 116.2-inch wheelbase, and a chassis that measures 193.5-inches overall.
The 2003 Dodge Durango has a lot of the same comforts as that of the Dakota. The dash and seat designs are identical. Buyers will find large gauges, easy to use instruments, and a solid build quality with hidden seams and great materials. The decoration of the interior is a bit bland, however, suffering from a lack of imagination and aging styles. It has several seating options with the smallest seating five passengers and the largest seating eight. Standard are two bucket seats for the driver and front passenger and a second-row bench that seats another three. An optional third-row bench is also available for another three passengers. Both the second and third-row seating folds flat for a maximum cargo area of 88 cubic feet.
Performance & Handling
The standard engine for the 2003 Dodge Durango is a 4.7-liter, V-8 engine that produces 235 horsepower with 295 lb-ft of torque. This engine comes equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission that produces a quick response. The next engine up is a 5.9-liter, V-8 engine that produces 245 horsepower with 335 lb-ft of torque, which is standard on the R/T model and optional on the SLT. The 5.9-liter V-8 comes paired with a four-speed automatic. All models are two-wheel or part-time four-wheel drive except the R/T model, which boasts full-time four-wheel drive. It has a great suspension build and is capable of handling twists and turns with minimal body roll and little under-steer. Bumps are absorbed, and even a packed version will handle everything smoothly. The standard V-8 engine is fine for most drivers, able to handle merging and passing without a problem. The bigger V-8 is for those who really like their power.
The 2003 Dodge Durango offers optional side airbags, which is a rarity for this class of vehicle. Standard offerings include rear-wheel anti-lock brakes, child seat anchors, ventilated front disc brakes, and electronic brake force distribution. The NHTSA gave the Dodge Durango four out of five stars for passenger and driver front crash tests, and three out of five stars for roll over. The IIHS gave it a score of ""acceptable,"" its second best, for frontal offset crash tests, but a rating of ""poor"" for rear crash protection and head restraints.
EPA Fuel Economy
Dodge Durango Sport: 13/18 mpg city/highway
- Great V-8 power
- Fantastic transmission response
- Great off-road suspension
- Large cabin
- Great looks
You Won't Like
Handsome vehicle, but it is beginning to show its age.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Ford Explorer
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- Honda Pilot