While it might not be a concern for the average driver, enthusiasts continue to watch what car we love might disappear next. Passenger cars are endangered, so they say. But if you’re in the market for a fast SUV, why not look at the only true three row muscle car out there: The Dodge Durango. Thanks to the folks at Donut Media, you can now get up to speed on this long-running favorite.
(Usually) hosted by James Pumphrey, Up to Speed is a weekly car culture show about the best cars, brands, designers, drivers and influencers on Donut Media’s YouTube channel. In this episode, we take a deep dive into the Dodge Durango and the story of how it became the SUV we know and love today. This story of course starts in the late 1990’s, when SUVs of smaller stature had already showed their popularity in the marketplace. Vehicles like the Ford Explorer, Lexus RC 300, and Toyota 4Runner were all increasingly popular, and Dodge wanted in on this segment. Dodge looked to adapt their popular mid-size Dakota pickup as the basis for their own smaller SUV.
The all-new Durango launched for the 1998 model year wearing the new corporate body style “New Dodge” era. It was larger than its main competitors, but was still smaller than the full-size SUVs of its day. With a rugged body on frame design, best in class cargo room, interior style and towing capacity, the Durango sold in droves. The optional 5.9L Magnum V8 found in the Durango R/T was the most powerful in its class, producing 245 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque.
The very reasons that the Durango sold so well when it was released maintain a focus for the model today. The three row SUV continues to lead its class in towing capability, while also offering the highest level of performance in its class. That performance comes courtesy of the optional 6.4L Hemi V8 that produces 485 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. Bringing a whole new meaning to the term family hauler, the SRT Durango can hit 60 mph is 4.4 seconds.
For a more in-depth look at the Dodge Durango and some of the most interesting variants of the SUV, be sure to watch this episode of Up to Speed by Donut Media.