With the introduction of the Dodge Durango HEMI R/T Concept at this year's North American International Auto Show, the Chrysler Group gave enthusiasts a sneak peek at a thinly disguised version of the next-generation Durango (set to appear in the fall of 2003 as an '04 model). Similar to the Pacifica Concept shown at last year's NAIAS, the Durango HEMI R/T Concept previews the bold new look of a product that Dodge hopes will put it squarely on mainstream SUV-buyer's radar, with a distinction that'll set it apart in a field that's become increasingly crowded, not only with traditional SUVs, but with car-based crossover vehicles populating the marketplace.
The audacious and powerful Dodge Durango Concept is seven inches longer--more than three inches taller and four and a half inches wider than the current-generation Durango. The enlarged exterior results in a roomier interior that provides increased head, shoulder, and hip room and more comfortable accommodations for up to seven occupants.
Styling and Design
Given that the Durango Concept is HEMI powered, it's tough to say which is its most important attribute: the bold styling or its namesake drivetrain. Since its bold exterior is the first thing that'll attract the eye, even before the key is put in the ignition, we think it logical to start here.
Vehicle manufacturers talk all the time of design DNA, and Dodge is no exception. Since the introduction of the Viper and the first-generation Dodge Ram pickup, the Dodge design team has worked hard to develop a strong family design-identity within all its vehicle lines, from the smallest Neon to the biggest Ram 3500 pickups. The Durango Concept clearly continues this trend, from its cross-hair grille to the tips of its twin satin rear-exhaust tips.
"The Dodge Durango R/T HEMI Concept is not a 'me, too' design--that will not be tolerated at Dodge," says Trevor M. Creed, senior vice president of design, Chrysler Group. "Our goal was to create something more architectural than agricultural, but a vehicle that still delivers power on every front, from its dramatic design to its HEMI engine."
Getting a first look at the Liquid Graphite Metallic Durango R/T HEMI Concept, we'd say that Creed and his design team have succeeded, building not only upon the design of the current Durango, along with the newest Viper and Ram, but of several of Dodge's well- received recent concept trucks, most notably the muscular stature of the '99 Power Wagon and the passenger-priority position of the 2000 MAXXcab's A-pillar, with some elements of last year's M80 pickup. Considering its look of machined elegance, and its wheels pushed out to the extremes (courtesy of its 199.2-inch wheelbase), the Durango Concept's look is distinctive in a sea of lookalike SUVs. It's unmistakably a Dodge and pulls together the form first seen in the '01 Dodge truck concept, the Power Box.