Home Automotive AdviceMotoring History Old Dodge Durango – Which Is The Best Durango Generation?

Old Dodge Durango – Which Is The Best Durango Generation?

by Jordan Harris
Old Dodge Durango

Are you planning on purchasing an old Dodge Durango? Well, if that is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic where we are going to learn about the Dodge Durango and its common problems.

Doing the proper research before you decide to spend a lot of money on a car should be your top priority. And especially if we are talking about a used car. Used cars tend to carry a lot more problems than new vehicles and these problems can be rather expensive to fix.

So, getting a basket case full of problems should be one of the things that you really want to avoid doing. First thing first, you need to go online and start learning more about the problems that this specific model has. You just don’t want to get yourself a problematic vehicle. Luckily for you, we are planning to help you out when it comes to this situation and help you learn the common problems that each of the generations of the Durango has. But more on that, down the line.

First, we are going to learn what is the Dodge Durango and why it is so popular vehicle. Then we will cover all three generations of this model and learn their specs, and their common problems and see if they are any good, and help you form your opinion on whether to buy an old Dodge Durango or not. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.

What Is The Dodge Durango

Now before we start discussing more about the old Dodge Durango and learn about the past generations of this model. Let’s first discuss some of the main features of this model. This chapter will be really useful for those who are not into cars and want to get the bigger picture when it comes to purchasing a Durango. So, let’s get into it.

The Dodge Durango is a vehicle that was introduced in 1997. This model appeared when a lot of other big SUVs started to pop up. Namely, the Ford Excursion, and Chevy Tahoe. And Dodge also saw the chance to introduce a new model to fill up the market and that’s how the Durango was born.

In the early beginnings, the Durango was based on the Dodge Dakota. The Dakota was the mid-size pickup truck that Dodge was offering at the time.

Old Dodge Durango

It implemented basically the same body-on-frame design and borrowed the frame and some of the components in the front end from the Dakota. But in the rear, everything was different since this is an SUV.

And the Durango made an immediate impact on the market. It was very practical. The first gen was basically a mid-size SUV. A bit smaller than the Tahoe and Excursion and still offered three-row seating.

Then in 2004 when the new generation of this model was introduced, the body of the Durango increased and this model became a full-size SUV as it stands today. What is worth noting is that it is closely related to the Jeep Grand Cherokee. So, a lot of the internals of the present generation are shared with the Cherokee. Namely the engines, transmissions, etc. But why the old Dodge Durango is so popular? More on that next.

Why The Durango Is So Popular

So, why the old Dodge Durango is so popular among buyers? Well, if you are a Mopar guy, you definitively know why the Durango is such a legend among Mopar guys.

A guy who owns a Charger or perhaps a Challenger would much rather have another Dodge product than a Ford or a Chevy. This is why the Durango is such a legend in the Mopar community.

This model is basically one of the rare SUVs that has a sports package dedicated to it by the manufacturer. So, there are the Dodge Durango SRT and Dodge Durango RT models since the early inception of the Durango.

Old Dodge Durango

On top of that, recently Dodge has introduced a Hellcat version of the Durango with the 707hp 6.2L V8 engine used in the Charger and Challenger. You just cannot beat that. There isn’t a single SUV in the world producing so much power.

So, we can easily say that the Dodge brand is a performance-oriented brand. One of the rare brands in the US whose goal is the ultimate performance.

And that’s why people love their models. Including me. If you are one of those guys who want that V8 rumble. Then I can say that the old Dodge Durango will be the perfect buy for you as your new daily driver. This is why in the following chapters, we are going to cover all about these models and learn more about their specs and all that interesting stuff. So, you don’t want to miss that.

Generations Of The Durango

Now let’s dive into the old Dodge Durango generations. In the following chapters, we are going to cover all the generations of this SUV.

First, we are going to learn the basic specs, trim levels, engines and transmissions, common problems, and reliability. So, if you want to learn more about these vehicles. Follow along.

First Generation Dodge Durango 1997 – 2003

Now let’s cover the first generation of the Old Dodge Durango. The first generation of this model was introduced in 1997 for the 1998 model year. And this model was produced up until 2003 when it was replaced by the second generation.

This model carried the same styling and platform as the Dodge Dakota, the mid-size pickup produced by Dodge. And personally, I think that this is probably one of the best-looking Dodge models out there. Especially the SRT models that came in red color. But more on the trims, we are going to cover later on.

Dodge Durango Dimensions & Dodge Durango Weight

Now let’s cover more on the dimensions of the Durango. This is an old Dodge Durango 3rd row. This means that there are three rows of seating in this vehicle. Making it really spacious.

When it comes to the dimensions, we can say that this model has a wheelbase of 116.2 inches and is 193.5 inches long. The model is 71.5 inches wide and 72,9 inches tall. This model has a ground clearance of 9.7 inches. The weight of the Durango was rated at 4,689lbs.

Engines & Transmissions

In this generation of the old Dodge Durango, there were a number of different engines. All of them were V8s except one V6 engine. The displacement of the engines varies from 3.9L for the V6, and between 4.7L to 5.9L for the Magnum V8.

The most powerful engine was the supercharged Magnum 5.9 which was making 360hp and 412lb-ft of torque.

In the transmission department, there were three different transmissions. A 4-speed TorqueFlite automatic, 4-speed RFE auto, and a 5-speed RFE auto.

Dodge Durango Trim Levels

Now let’s discuss more about the trim levels on the old Dodge Durango. The most basic trim level on the Durango from 1998 to 2000 was the SLT. Then there was the Dodge Durango SXT, the basic level from 2000 to 2003.

The most luxurious trim level was the SLT Plus, it implemented the base SLT trim features and a lot of other luxury features for that time. Namely, fog lamps, leather interior, power seats, alarm, CD player, and a lot more.

Then there was the Sport trim from 2000 to 2003. This trim level included all the SXT features, plus other sporty features like decals and other performance-oriented upgrades.

And the top of the line was the Dodge Durango RT. The R/T model wore R/T emblems and had a ton of performance upgrades under the hood. So, if you want an old Dodge Durango, the R/T is probably it.

Common Problems

When it comes to common problems with the old Dodge Durango. We can say that this model has a fair amount of issues.

More precisely, there are problems with the PCM. The PCM is the car’s computer and on these first-generation Durango models, the PCM is notorious for failing. When this happens the engine shuts down completely and you are not able to run the car.

The second most common problem was the oil sludge in the engine. This problem was most common on the 4.7L and 5.2L engines.

Transmission issues were also prevalent in this generation of the Durango. There were a number of failures and these replacements were really expensive to do later on.

Dodge Durango Reliability

When it comes to the overall reliability of this old Dodge Durango model, we can say that it is not that reliable. Especially the 4.7L engine. Avoid this motor at any cost. The 5.9 is the best out of the bunch and I would recommend going after this engine instead. Also, check the transmission and make sure that it shifts well.

Second Generation Dodge Durango 2004 – 2009

We covered the old Dodge Durango, now let’s take a look at the second generation of the Durango model.

The second generation of this model was released in 2003 for the 2004 model year and was in production till 2009. It was assembled at the same plant in Newark, Delaware as the previous generation of this model.


This model was implemented on a new platform. More precisely on the platform of the second generation of the Dodge Dakota which was a mid-size pickup truck. But this new SUV was a bit enlarged and fell into the full-size category.

What was different with this new model was the retro-futuristic styling that a lot of cars implemented in the early 2000s. This styling is probably a bit off nowadays but it is still loved by a lot of people out there when it comes to the old Dodge Durango.

Dodge Durango Dimensions & Dodge Durango Weight

The new generation of the model grew a bit in size. The wheelbase was lengthened to 119.2 inches. And the overall length was rated at 200.8 inches.

This model also grew in width as well as in height. The new model was 76 inches wide and 74.3 inches tall. Also, this generation was the heaviest, weighing more than 4,671lbs. And the ground clearance was rated at 9.7 inches.

Engines & Transmissions

When it comes to engines in the old Dodge Durango, we can say that most of the engines were kept from the previous generation. Like the 3.7L V6 and the 4.7L Magnum V8.

What was new was the 5.7L V8 HEMI. This engine was the first in the new generation of HEMI engines. And produced about 335hp and 370lb-ft of torque. What is interesting is that there was a hybrid version of the 5.7L HEMI and this greatly improved the fuel economy.

In terms of transmissions, there were three of them. 4-speed and 5-speed automatics and also a CVT automatic transmission.

Dodge Durango Trim Levels

Now let’s discuss more on the trim levels on the old Dodge Durango. Let’s learn in which trims you could spec out one of these SUVs.

The most basic trim levels on this model weer the ST and SXT. These trims included only the necessities.

Then there was the SLT. The SLT included more commodities like a more premium cloth interior, 7-passenger seating, and other very useful features like a CD changer with MP3, 17-inch alloys, alarm, and dual sun visors.

Then there were two more upscale trim levels. Namely, the Adventurer, which was off-road oriented. And the Limited trim. The Limited was the most luxurious trim on this generation of the old Dodge Durango. With leather upholstery, an 8-speaker stereo system, power mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and all that good stuff.

So, when looking for a Durango from this generation, this is the model for you. But what are the problems with this model? More on that next.

Common Problems

When it comes to the problems with this generation of the old Dodge Durango, we can say that there were plenty of issues. And serious issues to be honest.

The first problem was the oil sludge development on the 4.7L Magnum. This engine is notorious for creating oil sludge inside. So, the engine could fail prematurely because of this.

The second problem is connected to the 5.7L HEMI. The early HEMI was a bit problematic engine. Remember that this was before the 5.7 Eagle update only on the 2004 model.

There were many engine failures on the early 5.7L engines. Many owners reported that their engine threw a rod and destroyed the block. Based on data from CarComplaints.com, there are 145 complaints on this topic. If you click here, you can check more on the experiences people had with this engine. So, when it comes to this engine, I would say to avoid it.

Dodge Durango Reliability

When it comes to the old Dodge Durango reliability. We can say that this model is fairly reliable. Just take a note and don’t buy the first year of production.

This engine has problems and can fail. If you want a good Durango, go for a later year model. Preferably a 2006 and later if you don’t want to deal with issues.

Third Generation Dodge Durango 2010 – Present

Now let’s get into the last of the old Dodge Durango generations. And this is the present generation of the Durango which is quite old, to be honest.

It was first introduced in 2010 and the first model year was 2011. It is produced to this day and I think there are only a handful of models that were produced for more than 10 years in the US market.

But even though the platform is quite old. The car isn’t. It is regularly updated by Dodge and refreshed with new technologies in order to compete with other big players in the market.

Dodge Durango Dimensions & Dodge Durango Weight

In terms of size, this model is pretty much similar to the old Dodge Durango. The present generation of this model has a wheelbase of 119.9 inches and a total length of 198.8 inches. The new model is 75.8 inches wide and 70.9 inches tall.

The ground clearance of this model is good at 8.1 inches while the model grew in weight, weighing 4,987lbs. What is good though is that can tow up to 7,200lbs and has a payload capacity of 14,20lbs.

Engines & Transmissions

In terms of engines, it is worth mentioning that this model only kept the 5.7L HEMI from the old Dodge Durango. And this is the 5.7L Eagle, pretty much a bulletproof engine.

Other engines include the 3.6L Pentastar V6. A somewhat problematic engine in the early years. Then there are the 6.4L HEMI, also known as the 392, and the 6.2L HEMI from the Hellcat which makes 710hp and 875lb-ft of torque.

In terms of transmissions, we can say that there are a few of them. The early models used 5-speed Mercedes transmissions but later models switched to 8-speed ZF transmissions.

Dodge Durango Trim Levels

When it comes to trim levels, we can say that there is a handful of them when compared to the old Dodge Durango.

Some of them are discontinued. But the ones that you can get right now are the SXT, SXT Plus, GT, GT Plus, R/T, Citadel, SRT, and top of the line is the SRT Hellcat with the mighty 6.2L engine. There is practically a choice for everybody when it comes to trim levels.

Common Problems

When it comes to the problems that this model has, we can say that this model is the one that has the least problems recorded from all previous generations. This model is practically bulletproof. Especially after 2016, there are almost no reports on issues on the car complaints website.

The biggest problem for this model was the faulty TIPM in the 2011 models. This is an acronym that refers to the Totally Integrated Power Module. This is an electric module that controls a lot of stuff. Just like a PCM. So, there were issues with this unit failing on some cars.

So, avoid 2011 and 2012 when this TIPM problem was most present if you don’t want to deal with issues.

Overall, there were no major issues except the one when the taillight was filling up with water. So, when inspecting a car make sure that you give it a good check.

Dodge Durango Reliability

When it comes to the reliability aspect and if we compare this with the old Dodge Durango, we can say that this model is pretty much bulletproof.

Really, there are no major issues with this model, the engines are really good and they don’t break down often, as well as with the transmissions. There are only problems with the TIPM module in the early years of production. But after 2013 all these issues were patched up.

Facts about the Dodge Durango SUV from 1998 to 2023:

  1. The 1998 Dodge Durango SUV was based on the mid-size Dodge Dakota pickup truck and offered a third-row seat, making it larger than a Ford Explorer or Chevrolet Blazer but smaller than a Chevrolet Tahoe or GMC Yukon.
  2. The second-generation Durango, produced from 2004 to 2009, was larger and blockier than its predecessor and had interior materials that were criticized for being of lower quality.
  3. The Durango was not produced in 2010, but returned in 2011 with updated styling, improved interior, and a choice of V-6 and V-8 engines with rear- or all-wheel drive.
  4. The current third-generation Durango, introduced in 2011, is based on unitized construction and shares some underbody hardware with the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
  5. The 2014 Durango saw a redesign with a new eight-speed automatic transmission and revised styling.
  6. The 2018 Durango introduced a high-performance SRT model with a 475-horsepower, 6.4-liter Hemi V-8.
  7. The Durango can seat up to seven passengers in three rows and has V-6 or V-8 power with rear- or all-wheel drive options.
  8. The Durango has a maximum towing capacity of 7,400 pounds and has had various safety features added over the years, such as electronic stability control, side curtain airbags, and automatic emergency braking.
  9. The price range for the Durango spans from $30,795 to $91,185, depending on the model year and trim level.
  10. The Durango has consistently received positive consumer ratings, with the 2021 model year receiving a rating of 4.7 out of 5 from 28 reviews.


In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the old Dodge Durango. We have covered the basics of this model.

Then we covered the last three generations. We learned more about their specs, common problems, and also the reliability. When it comes to choosing your new daily driver. I would say to avoid the 4.7L Magnum or the 2004 5.7L HEMI, these engines are not worth it. And if you want something really reliable, go for a model produced after 2013.


Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

Who Owns Dodge

Dodge is owned by Chrysler Corporation. Chrysler is owned by FCA and the FCA is owned by Stellantis. The ownership structure could be complex to understand but the thing you need to know is that the parent company of Dodge is Chrysler.

How Much Is A Dodge Durango

According to Car and Driver, the base starting price for the Durango is $39,355. This price rises as you go through the trim levels. So, a good specked-out model can cost up to $55,000.

Is Dodge Reliable

Yes, they are a fairly reliable brand overall. During the last 8 years since FCA took over, the build quality improved quite a bit and there are no major flaws when it comes to the engines and transmissions used in their models.

How Long Do Dodge Durangos Last

On average, every car should last at least 150,000 miles with no problems. Durangos are highly praised for their longevity and they could easily last for more than 200,000. Especially if we are talking about the 5.7L engine.

What Is The Best Dodge Durango Model

The best model is the third generation of the Durango. More precisely the vehicles produced after 2013. They have the least problems. If you want to get a reliable vehicle, go for the third generation.

How Much Does Dodge Durango Weigh

The base curb weight for the newest 2022 model is 5063 lbs. It is a rather heavy SUV. But nowadays all cars are heavy. So, we can say that this is quite normal.

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