In Oct. 2008, Chrysler discontinued the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen full-sized hybrids just two months after both vehicles began full-scale production.
The Dodge Durango is the quintessential, work-hard, play-hard, do-anything SUV—except when filling up a 13-mpg vehicle means it’s smarter to leave it parked in the driveway. To avoid this dilemma, the Durango was offered as a hybrid. The Dodge Durango Hybrid achieved fuel economy ratings of 18 in the city and 19 on the highway. That’s about a 40 percent improvement in the city and a 5 percent improvement on the highway over the gas-powered Hemi model.
The Durango’s powertrain added electric motors to Chrysler’s 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. That’s right. It was a Hemi hybrid. The one-two punch of Hemi and electric drive produced 385 horsepower. The technology was the “two-mode” hybrid system—similar to the one being used in the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon hybrids. The chief benefit of this hybrid approach, rather than systems found on some competing hybrids, is uncompromised towing capacity. In addition, the 5,500-pound Dodge Durango offered a capable four-wheel drive system that utilized a single-speed transfer case. The rear-biased system could send up to 100 percent of power to the back wheels, depending on the need and road conditions. The combined result was solid pulling power and a tow limit of 6,000 pounds. That may fall short of the non-hybrid Durango’s 8,950-pound capacity, but it’s still quite respectable.
The Durango Hybrid model was first scheduled to launch in 2003. At that time, the Durango Hybrid was going to be a mild version, only capable of using electric power at a standstill. The 2009 Dodge Durango Hybrid, with the Hemi, was more robust in every sense. Two months after its debut, Chrysler discontinued the model, citing “the global economic slowdown and auto industry contraction, as well as the market’s continuing movement toward smaller vehicles” as the reason.