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.
The bright paint may have been the initial attention-getter, but the overall vehicle styling was what most comments centered on. More than one person gave a thumbs-up to the exterior design, which has more character than the other midsize SUVs. Standard features include driver and passenger-side airbags, rear-wheel anti-lock brakes, variable assist power steering, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, remote keyless entry and a stereo with a cassette.
The gray cloth interior is attractive, and the six-way power seat with manual lumbar adjustment provides plenty of comfort for long drives. Power windows, mirrors and door locks are now standard on all Durangos beginning with the 2000 model year. Our SLT came equipped with front bucket seats and a folding rear bench seat with a 60/40 split. A third row bench seat, suitable for two passengers, is available as an option and folds nearly flat for extra cargo space when not in use. A front bench seat, with a 40/20/40 split, is standard on the base model.
The Dodge Durango package goes above and beyond its competitors in its design to carry both people and gear. In addition to being the only vehicle in its class that can seat up to eight passengers, the Durango offers an exceptional amount of cargo space compared to its competition. With all rear seats folded, a useful 88 cubic feet are available, despite the fact that the vehicle is no longer overall than its competitors. Towing capacity, with the optional 5.9-liter engine, is the highest in its class, with a maximum towing capacity of 7600 pounds.
The Dodge Durango is available in two new colors for 2000 – Aquamarine Metallic and Sierra Bronze. For those who prefer their SUVs on the bolder side, the Durango comes in both Chili Pepper Red and Flame Red. Of course, you know which one is my favorite.
|2000 Dodge Durango
Base Price: $25,975|
Engine: 4.7-liter V-8, 235 hp (4WD); 5.2-liter V-8, 230 hp (2WD)
Transmission: four-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 115.9 in
Length: 193.3 in
Width: 71.5 in
Height: 71.0 in
Weight: 4360 lb
Fuel economy: 14 city/ 17 hwy (4WD), 14 city/ 19 hwy (2WD)
Major standard equipment:
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