Always pick the best Dodge Durango model year. In this ultimate guide, we analyze the best and worst Dodge Durango model years for you.
The Dodge Durango has traveled a long road since its inception, with certain years performing better than others. In this article, we’ll navigate the best, neutral, and worst years of this iconic SUV, helping you to make more informed purchasing decision.
Drawing from extensive research and comprehensive data from renowned sources like Consumer Reports, NHTSA, and owner reviews, we’ll provide the specifications of each generation, providing insights on performance, reliability, and resale value.
You’ll discover which model years you should rely on and which to approach with caution based on tangible performance metrics and owner feedback.
To start with, let’s dive into the different Dodge Durango generations.
Table of ContentsShow
Dodge Durango Generations
Dodge Durango has seen three distinct generations since its launch, each bringing its own set of enhancements, features, and sometimes challenges.
For clarity and to aid decision-making, especially for potential buyers, let’s analyze the timeline:
|1st generation (DN)||1998-2003|
|2nd generation (HB)||2004-2009|
|3rd generation (WD)||2011-Present|
Understanding these generations offers a clearer overview, as significant changes often transpire between them, potentially influencing purchasing decisions.
Dodge Durango Best, Neutral, and Worst Years
Our categorization is data-driven: it’s based on extensive research. We consider an array of factors, including but not limited to:
- Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
- Annual maintenance costs
- Safety ratings
- Consumer Reports reliability scores
- Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
- NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
- Edmunds owner ratings
- JD Power owner ratings
- Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
- VehicleHistory owner ratings
- Cars.com owner ratings
Here’s a visual representation of combined ratings from the aforementioned sources, illustrating Dodge Durango’s performance over the years.
Now, in the following table, we categorize all model years of the Dodge Durango into the Best, Neutral, and Worst categories.
|Generation||Best Years||Neutral Years||Worst Years|
|1st generation (DN)||1998|
|2nd generation (HB)||2007|
|3rd generation (WD)||2016|
‘Neutral Years’, refers to models that don’t shine exceptionally in any positive or negative aspect. They might have a balanced mix of pros and cons or simply stay average in performance and reliability.
A significant factor that negatively influences a car’s categorization is NHTSA recalls. A higher number of complaints and recalls, unsurprisingly, implies a lower reliability score.
With that understanding, let’s go deeper into the specifications of the best, neutral, and worst years.
Best & Worst Years for Dodge Durango 1st Generation (1998-2003)
The 1st Generation of the Dodge Durango made its debut in 1997, introducing a mid-size SUV that was both rugged and stylish. With its bold design and promised performance, it captured the attention of many.
As with all vehicles, some years of this generation performed better than others.
The Best Years: 2002, 2003
The SUV was built with a focus on towing capacity, making it a favorite among families and adventurers alike. As the model matured, the 2002 and 2003 years saw various improvements, including enhanced suspension systems and better fuel efficiency.
Despite some initial hiccups in the inaugural year, the decision to swap out the 5.2L Magnum V8 for the 5.9L Magnum V8 in the subsequent models was positively received by the market. This upgrade drastically reduced complaints and bolstered the Durango’s reliability.
Such upgrades, combined with the refinements in 2002 and 2003, solidify these as the best years of the 1st generation.
The Neutral Years: 2000, 2001
During 2000 and 2001, the Durango underwent subtle refinements. The 2000 model year marked the introduction of the 5.9L Magnum V8, which promised and delivered more power and efficiency.
Interior upgrades for better comfort and minor tweaks in the suspension system for smoother rides were also seen during these years.
The 2000 and 2001 models are categorized as neutral primarily because, while they did see improvements, especially with the engine switch, they didn’t entirely escape the shadows of previous issues.
The lingering suspension complaints, combined with the decreasing but still present engine issues, made these years stable but not standout.
The Worst Years: 1999, 1998
Chief complaints for the 1998 model revolved around engine issues. Many owners reported sudden and unexpected drops in oil pressure, which often culminated in engine failure. Alongside these engine troubles, suspension complaints were rampant, accounting for more than half of the reported issues.
The 1999 model, unfortunately, didn’t fare much better. This year saw a spike in total engine failure complaints, especially regarding the Magnum V8, with scenarios ranging from sudden stops to failures while in motion.
The 1998 and 1999 models are labeled the worst years due to the volume and severity of the complaints registered. The 1998 model, being the launch year, is somewhat understandable in its shortcomings.
However, the 1999 year’s inability to substantially improve upon these glaring issues was a significant letdown for many owners.
Notably, the engine problems and widespread suspension issues of these two years overshadowed the model’s positive aspects, thus marking them as the most problematic of the 1st generation.
Best & Worst Years for Dodge Durango 2nd Generation (2004-2009)
The 2nd Generation Dodge Durango, running from 2004 to 2009, showcased a boulder and more aggressive design while promising improved performance. Incorporating several technological upgrades, it was a clear evolution from its predecessor.
The Best Years: 2007, 2008, 2009
By 2007, Dodge had refined the Durango considerably. The vehicle featured advanced safety measures, including enhanced airbags and stability control systems. Technological advancements were evident with the integration of touch-screen infotainment systems and improved navigation.
Performance upgrades in these years focused on better fuel efficiency and the addition of a hybrid variant in 2008, offering consumers an eco-friendlier choice. The latter part of the 2nd generation showcased Dodge’s commitment to adaptability and innovation.
The significant drop in registered complaints for the 2007 model year and beyond, combined with the inclusion of advanced tech and safety features, earmarked these years as the best of the 2nd generation.
The Neutral Year: 2006
The 2006 Durango brought with it modest improvements. There was a slight interior redesign, aiming for enhanced comfort and aesthetic appeal.
While it maintained many of the previous year’s features, additional options such as DVD-based navigation and a sunroof were introduced. 2006 served as a transition year for the Durango.
While it did introduce some improvements and additional features, it didn’t match the significant advancements seen in the subsequent years. It remained largely untroubled by major issues but didn’t shine as brightly as the 2007-2009 models, positioning it in the neutral category.
The Worst Years: 2004, 2005
The early years of the 2nd generation faced several hiccups. A recurring issue was with the integrated circuit in the instrument panel, which had a tendency to overheat and could potentially cause an interior fire.
This problem was significant enough that by April 2007, Daimler Chrysler had to recall 328,424 vehicles from these model years. Additionally, there were reports of transmission failures, electrical malfunctions, and issues with the front ball joints.
The 2004 and 2005 models suffered from teething problems that often come with a newly redesigned generation. The fact that one of these issues led to a major recall significantly impacted the reputation of these years.
Best & Worst Years for Dodge Durango 3rd Generation (2011-Present)
Launching in 2011, the 3rd Generation Dodge Durango ushered in a sleeker design, focusing on enhancing both interior luxury and technological prowess. While it continued to establish its strong presence in the SUV segment, the recognition from IIHS as a Top Safety Pick for early model years further underscores its reliability in the market.
The Best Years: 2016, 2017, 2020
These standout years heralded a plethora of advancements for the Durango. Technologically, the integration of the Uconnect 5 infotainment system provided users with a more intuitive interface, coupled with seamless smartphone integration.
Advanced safety features, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, and automatic emergency braking, became standard, greatly enhancing passenger safety.
The Durango also received performance boosts with refined engine options, offering a balance of power and fuel efficiency.
With a consistent upward trajectory in both performance and technological innovations, these years solidified the Durango’s reputation as a top-tier SUV.
The Neutral Years: 2015, 2018, 2021
During these years, the Durango witnessed incremental upgrades. While they maintained the core features introduced in the best years, there were minor tweaks in interior design and additional customization options for users.
Infotainment systems received periodic software updates, and there was a notable improvement in fuel efficiency across various trims.
While these models didn’t necessarily break new ground, they upheld the Durango’s standard of quality.
The Worst Years: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2023
The initial years of the 3rd generation, notably 2011 to 2014, faced a series of challenges.
On August 16, 2012, Chrysler recalled 1,661 2013-model Durangos due to concerns about airbags not deploying in an accident.
Another recall on November 26, 2019, affected 2011-2013 Durangos due to an electrical failure causing potential engine malfunctions.
The 2023 model, despite being a future iteration, appears to have issues that have yet to be detailed.
The big recalls, particularly regarding safety features such as airbags, greatly affected consumer faith. Considering these difficulties, it’s not surprising that these years are classified as some of the worst for the 3rd generation Durango.
Dodge Durango Average Resale Values
The following graph represents the average resale values of the Dodge Durango over the years. Through this, we can observe how various models retain or depreciate their value over time.
Now, we’ve armed you with insights on Dodge Durango’s most commendable and questionable years. Go for the best and avoid the worst to prevent costly mistakes.
Based on our deep dive, which Dodge Durango year would you consider owning or recommend to someone? And why?
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