Entering the sport utility vehicle market in 1998, Dodge Durango debuted as a competitor to the popular Ford Explorer and the Toyota 4Runner. With the optional forward-facing third row seat, the 1998 Dodge Durango could accommodate up to seven occupants.
Standard engine power of the sport utility vehicle came from a 5.2-liter Magnum V-8 powerplant while a 5.9-liter was presented as an option. All Dodge Durango's built during the first production year were equipped with four-wheel drive while an option of a part-time or full-time transfer case was available. For the 1999 model year, a more affordable two-wheel drive version was offered with the Durango as was a 3.9-liter Magnum V-6 engine as an alternative to eight-cylinder power.
In 2004, the Dodge Durango received a major update that resulted in the sport utility growing in proportions. The wheelbase of the 2004 Durango was three inches longer than its predecessor and was 4.3 inches taller. Increased exterior dimensions reflected in a larger interior space for additional passenger and cargo room. Base power was sourced from a 210-horsepower, 3.7-liter PowerTech V-6. Eight-cylinder propulsion from the Dodge Durango was derived either from a 4.7-liter PowerTech V-8 or from an all-new 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 producing 335 horsepower. In 2006, the HEMI V-8 engine added Multi-Displacement System allowing better fuel management. The convenience equipment on the Dodge Durango was also upgraded in 2004 with satellite radio, automatic temperature control air conditioning and Uconnect hands-free communication with Bluetooth offered for the first time. Briefly in 2009, the Dodge Durango was offered as a hybrid vehicle using a two-mode transmission.
After a one-year hiatus, the Durango was reintroduced in 2011 constructed on an all-new chassis shared with the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Standard power came from a 290-horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine while the Dodge Durango R/T offered a 360-horsepower version of the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8. In 2014, an eight-speed automatic transmission became standard on all Durango models.