There’s something about being behind the wheel of a big, red SUV. Aside from the obvious, "Look at me!" that all red vehicles seem to shout, driving a Flame Red Dodge Durango makes an even louder statement. "ATTENTION: I’M DRIVING MY CHILD TO SCHOOL," maybe?
Precisely what that statement may be is subject to anyone’s interpretation, but one can be sure that the driver of the bright red Durango is going to get noticed. The week I spent at the wheel of the 2000 Durango was one that yielded more sideways glances, passing stares and raised eyebrows than any married woman would admit in public. The looks, however, were not the result of the driver, but the attention-getting SUV I affectionately nicknamed "Big Red."
Like the cinnamon-flavored gum, Big Red is sort of medium-sized compared to other SUVs, yet it has big-time appeal both in styling and features. Launched as a 1998 model, the Dodge Durango has been refined for the 2000 model year. The 2000 4x4 SLT model we tested features the new 4.7-liter Magnum V-8 tuned to provide more power as well as fuel efficiency for the four-wheel drive version. The V-8 had plenty of power at all the right times, however the engine seemed overly noisy compared to its competitors.
Producing 235 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, the V-8 is mated to an electronically controlled transmission with a dual-ratio second gear. During acceleration, the higher ratio second gear is used to provide better launching capabilities, while the lower ratio is activated when kicking down from third to second gear to provide greater power over a broader range. Initial acceleration is also improved with a 3.00:1 ratio for first gear. In addition to the 4.7-liter, a heavier-duty 245 horsepower, 5.9-liter V-8 is available. Two-wheel drive models come standard with the 230 horsepower, 5.2-liter V-8.