1997-06 Dodge Dakota & Durango Vehicle History
Introduction of the 2nd generation of Dodge Dakota, America's first mid-sized truck. Available in Standard Cab or Club Cab and your choice of shortbed (6' 6) or longbed (8') body configurations. Interior and exterior styling closely resembled the full-size Ram. The frame of the 2WD Dakota received a 50% increase in torsional rigidity to improve ride and interior cab noise levels. The 4WD frame, already stiffer than the 2WD, was carried over from previous year. Engine choices ranged from a 2.5L 4 cylinder with 120 horsepower, a 3.9L V6 with 175 horsepower or a 5.2L V8 with 230 horsepower. Driver and passenger side airbags became standard equipment for Dakota.
The high performance Dakota R/T roared in with a 250 horsepower 5.9L V8 engine with automatic transmission and performance suspension, riding on 16 inch tires. Dash mounted passenger side airbag on/off switch added. Power driver seat is optional as well as a passenger side A-pillar mounted grab handle for 4WD models.
Only in its 3rd year, very few minor changes were made. One-touch-down feature added for driver-side power window. 2 new overhead console styles were introduced. Steering wheel mounted radio controls were optional.
The Quad Cab Dakota was introduced. The Quad Cab featured 4 full-size forward hinged doors and was only offered with a 5' 3 bed. The longbed (8') was dropped from production. Power rack and pinion steering standard on 4WD models. The 4.7L V8 replaced the 5.2L V8.
Changes focused on the interior of the Dakota as it received a new instrument panel, door panels and redesigned center console. For 4WD models, the transfer case selector switch changed from a floor mounted lever to a dashmounted rotary switch. The optional Homelink transmitter feature allowed for garage door operation at the touch of a button.
The SXT trim package was introduced as the base trim level for Dakota models. The SXT had more standard features than any of its competitors' entry-level trim packages.
The 2.5L 4 cylinder engine was dropped from production, leaving the 3.9L V6 as the standard engine or the 4.7L V8 and 5.9L V8 as optional engine choices for Dakota models.
In anticipation of the new body style, notable changes occurred only to powertrain options. The 3.9L V6 was replaced by the more powerful and more fuel efficient 3.7L V6. Additionally, the 5.9L V8 was dropped from production.
The 3rd generation of the Dakota featured all new sheet metal, redesigned front and rear suspensions and rack-and-pinion steering standard for all models. The all new Dakota was only available in Club Cab or Quad Cab configurations. Engine choices were limited to the 3.7L V6, 4.7L V8 or the new 4.7L High-Output V8.
Minimal changes occurred during the second year of production. The R/T trim package returned as an option on 4WD models.
The first year of the Dodge Durango, a mid-size 4-door Sport Utility based on the Dodge Dakota platform. The Durango allowed for up to 8 passenger seating if equipped with the optional 3rd row seat. Raised seating in the second and third rows combined with a raised roof section created more headroom and better rear passenger visibility. Standard engine for the Durango was the 3.9L V6 with the 5.2L V8 or 5.9L V8 available as optional engines. During the first model year all Durango's were 4WD.
The Durango was now available as a 2WD model. Minor changes were made for the second year of Durango. Two new paint colors were available and notable options available included 6 x 9 heated rear view mirrors and steering wheel mounted radio controls. Leather seats were now standard on SLT Plus models, and body-color wheel flares were standard on SLT Plus 4WD models.
The new 4.7L V8 engine replaced the 5.2L V8 as the standard engine for 4WD models. A new 5 speed automatic transmission, the 5-45RFE was mated to the 4.7L V8. It featured a dual ratio 2nd gear for variable downshifts depending on engine load. Power rack-and-pinion steering featured on all models. The high performance Durango R/T came standard equipped with a 5.9L V8 and All Wheel Drive.
Dodge focused on interior upgrades as Durango's interior trim panels, dash mounted controls, instrument panel, overhead console and steering wheel were all redesigned. For improved rear passenger comfort, a dual-zone climate control system was now standard. Sound systems were improved on all models and now came standard with 6 speakers.
The new SXT version of the Durango was offered as the entry-level trim package. Side curtain airbags were added for increased safety.
For 2003 Durango featured minor mechanical changes, most notable was the addition of 4 wheel disc brakes.
The totally redesigned second generation Durango featured bolder styling and larger overall dimensions than previous models. The restyled Durango boasted of interior room and towing capacity comparable to vehicles in the large SUV market segment, yet provided the fuel economy, handling and performance common to a smaller SUV. Three engines were available for Durango, with the 3.7L V6 as standard equipment and the 4.7L V8 or 5.7L Hemi V8 as available options.
Interior improvements for Durango included heated cloth seats as standard equipment on all trim levels and a full-screen navigation system as an available option. The new Adventurer trim package featured reversible deepchanneled floor mats, washable cargo liner with built-in organizer, Satin Silver tubular side steps, unique exterior badging and machined finish aluminum wheels.
To further enhance passenger safety, roll-sensing technology was added to the side curtain airbag system. For improved fuel efficiency the 5.7L Hemi V8 received the Multiple Displacement System (MDS). During low engine load operation, Dodge's MDS system used advanced on board electronics to allow a seamless transition from 8-cylinder operation to 4-cylinder operation in a mere .04 seconds.