Goldilocks is a girl in a fairy tale who strives to get things just right. The Dodge division of Chrysler liked this blonde's thinking and borrowed her motto in developing its first entry into the sport-utility market. Not too big, not too little, but just right. Despite the same story line, the 1998 Durango is no fairy tale.
Hot off the press, this all-new SUV has a 115.9-inch wheelbase that fits in between the compact Ford Explorer (111.5 inches) and Ford’s full-sized Expedition (118.7 inches), with a body that is longer, taller and wider than the Explorer but still smaller than the Expedition. It can carry eight passengers but fits into the average garage. Not too big. It can accommodate 88 cubic feet of parcels and pets and has a 25-gallon fuel tank. Not too small. It comes with three engine choices, including a 245-hp version, and can tow up to 7200 pounds. Just right.
So believes Dodge. And it would seem this big manufacturer is to be trusted. After all, the boldly restyled Ram and Dakota trucks, riding on their "biggest and toughest" image, have outsold all expectations and have garnered a number of industry awards.
It's no surprise, then, that Dodge borrowed this successful truck strategy and styling when developing the new Durango, which came to market in a scant 23 months. From the outside, there is a strong resemblance to the Dakota compact pickup. In fact, the front third of the Durango is the 1997 Dakota pickup, and the Durango's rugged underpinnings are derived from the award-winning Dakota chassis.
Truth is, the truck-tough Durango is two-thirds new and award-winning in its class as well. It's the first compact SUV with seating for up to eight and boasts best-in-class power, cargo and towing capacity. It also has the largest fuel tank, biggest glovebox and greatest payload in its class. It's the first Dodge product to offer available full-time four-wheel drive (Selec-Trac) with a standard part-time 4WD system (Command-Trac) that permits shifting on the fly.