We often bemoan the fact that SUVs (now crossovers) dominate the sales landscape in the American automotive market, but the reality is that people buy what they want and since the 1990s they have wanted SUVs. Dodge was pretty late to the game when it comes to the SUV marketplace, dropping the Durango in 1998 but when they came in, they came in hot and the Durango name still lives today, albeit in a very different form. As is usually the case with anything Chrysler is involved with, they got crafty and creative to get this thing to market without breaking the bank. The Durango was mechanically identical to the Dakota trucks of the day. Windshield forward they all shared the same panels. Inside the dash and front driver’s area was all Dakota with the rest of the rig coming from the mind’s eye of the design team. This was a smart play that worked.
The Dodge “mini-big rig” styling which had revamped the truck market in 1994 was still highly popular and we’d venture to say that the Durango was not just the best looking but also the coolest SUV on the market when it first came out. While this truck that’s tested had a 318 in it, the 360 was available and those things moved out really well for the time.
The Durango nameplate is one we like here at BangShift, having just driven the 392 powered version of the modern rendition a few weeks back. It’s a long way from this guy but the legacy had to start somewhere and this video pinpoints the beginning.