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Last Post 30 Mar 2007 10:47 PM by  EM 8
04 and newer Dodge Durango V8 as tow vehicle?
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Phillip S. Osborne
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03 Mar 2007 10:10 PM

    I sold my beloved Duramax Diesel crew cab pickup to buy a 'vette, but still need a daily driver/tow vehicle for local events. I had also sold the enclosed trailer and had purchased an aluminum unit, and felt the diesel was overkill. I have been looking at everything from 98/99 Suburbans, to 2004 to 2006 Dodge Durangos. Question is, does anyone have experience towing with the later model Durango? My trailer, car, and tools weigh in at about 3500 lbs. Is there any tranny or other drive train issues with the Durango? Does the 4.7 have enough grunt to tow 3500 lbs? What kind of mileage can one expect with that engine? I know the Hemi would be better, but those are more difficult to find used with decently low miles in my price range...which is in the neighborhood of 15/16K, or less if possible. These trucks are plentiful if one will settle for the lesser equipped ST, or SXT, 05 and 06 models with less than 35K miles, in the price range mentioned...

    Thanks for your in-put...

    Phil O.

    Andy Hollis
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    04 Mar 2007 08:03 AM
    Phillip S. Osborne wrote:

    I sold my beloved Duramax Diesel crew cab pickup to buy a 'vette, but still need a daily driver/tow vehicle for local events. I had also sold the enclosed trailer and had purchased an aluminum unit, and felt the diesel was overkill. I have been looking at everything from 98/99 Suburbans, to 2004 to 2006 Dodge Durangos. Question is, does anyone have experience towing with the later model Durango? My trailer, car, and tools weigh in at about 3500 lbs. Is there any tranny or other drive train issues with the Durango? Does the 4.7 have enough grunt to tow 3500 lbs? What kind of mileage can one expect with that engine? I know the Hemi would be better, but those are more difficult to find used with decently low miles in my price range...which is in the neighborhood of 15/16K, or less if possible. These trucks are plentiful if one will settle for the lesser equipped ST, or SXT, 05 and 06 models with less than 35K miles, in the price range mentioned...

    Thanks for your in-put...

    Phil O.

    Not a Durango but same drivetrain: 4.7 V8 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I love mine. Tows like a champ. So I gotta believe a Durango would be just as good. Don't even have the HO version of the motor. We towed all over the country the one year (read: up/down the Rockies) with no issue. I'm usually towing 3000 lbs, but you can barely tell the thing is back there. 3500 should be no problem. I get around 14 MPG towing with that setup on the flatter stretches. And 16-19 as a daily driver. That's mostly city driving. 22 on the highway for trips.

    --Andy

    Davard
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    04 Mar 2007 09:42 AM
    Andy Hollis wrote:
    Not a Durango but same drivetrain:  4.7 V8 Jeep Grand Cherokee.  I love mine.  Tows like a champ.  So I gotta believe a Durango would be just as good. Don't even have the HO version of the motor.   We towed all over the country the one year (read: up/down the Rockies) with no issue.  I'm usually towing 3000 lbs, but you can barely tell the thing is back there.  3500 should be no problem.  I get around 14 MPG towing with that setup on the flatter stretches.   And 16-19 as a daily driver.  That's mostly city driving.  22 on the highway for trips.

    --Andy 

    You must not have the same drivetrain as my '99 Limited. The only time I've ever seen 22mpg was on a road rally where we spent a lot of time at 55mph. Freeway is closer to 17mpg.  And 14mpg around town (less in winter). Of course, if I had a later GC which actually used the 2nd overdrive, that might help the freeway MPG, and I have the quadra-trac II with full-time AWD and 3 limited slips. 2wd would likely do better.

    Steve Ekstrand had a 4.7L Dakota, and towed his 2400lbs trailer with an E30 M3 on the back across the Rockies with no problem. You might ask what he thought of his.
    Andy Hollis
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    04 Mar 2007 05:29 PM
    Davard wrote:
    You must not have the same drivetrain as my '99 Limited. ... Of course, if I had a later GC which actually used the 2nd overdrive, that might help the freeway MPG,

    Mine has the extra OD (2001 model year).

    BTW, you can get tranny reprogrammed to add that by the dealer's service dept.

    --Andy

    Edit: Was thinking about this some more today...checked the vehicle computer and saw it read 16.9 MPG cumulative overall mileage based on about two months of around-town driving and a couple of towing trips to San Antonio since the last time I reset it. Not much highway except for the towing (and that was at 60 MPH). One thing that may be helping is Amsoil in the crankcase, Redline in the diffs, and a K&N drop-in. And this is with 130K miles.

    stsneon
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    04 Mar 2007 08:47 PM
    My 4.7 Dakota has made the trip to Topeka and back for 4 years (w/ 10-15k of other towing per year) without any problems. The Neon+Trailer are in the 3500lb range.

    The engine has plenty of "grunt" the only issue I have is the diminitive size of the Dak (under 4k). That shouldn't be an issue with the newer Durangos.

    We get 13-16 towing and can pop low 20s empty.




    Phillip S. Osborne
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    05 Mar 2007 11:56 PM
    Thanks for the responses guys. Andy, I used to tow my Neon with a 5.2 GC back in 95, and while it had plenty of pulling power, the short wheel base of the GC made for some jaw tightening experiences, especially on wet pavement under braking. Loved the GC, and I can find late model examples (2004 to 2006) for the right price. I kind of preferred the Durango for it's longer wheelbase and larger cargo area.
    Andy Hollis
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    06 Mar 2007 07:31 AM

    Phillip S. Osborne wrote:
    Thanks for the responses guys. Andy, I used to tow my Neon with a 5.2 GC back in 95, and while it had plenty of pulling power, the short wheel base of the GC made for some jaw tightening experiences, especially on wet pavement under braking. Loved the GC, and I can find late model examples (2004 to 2006) for the right price. I kind of preferred the Durango for it's longer wheelbase and larger cargo area.

    Makes sense.

    BTW, you might check with Stan Whitney. He towed the yellow car with a Durango for a season or two. That rig was easily 3500+ since it was the enclosed trailer.

    --Andy

    Phillip S. Osborne
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    06 Mar 2007 08:21 PM
    Well, I just missed a super deal reference Stan's Excursion...He just traded it in on a F250...dealer gave him squat for his Excursion. He's checking to see what I can get it for. 103K miles, but knowing how meticulous Stan is with his vehicles, the mileage doesn't bother me...
    Andy Hollis
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    06 Mar 2007 10:15 PM
    Hey Phil, check your e-mail re:tires. --Andy
    Stan Whitney
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    07 Mar 2007 03:50 PM
    My old Durango worked great with a light car/open trailer combo. The enclosed added just enough drag that the gearing was wrong (4th too tall, 3rd too short). It had 3.90's and needed the taller rear end ratio. It did have enough mass and wheelbase to control it well, the newer ones are even beefier. Lots more power too with the hemi. Sorry about the Excursion deal, learned my lesson there - call Phil 1st ;)
    47CP
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    07 Mar 2007 05:53 PM
    Stan Whitney wrote:
    My old Durango worked great with a light car/open trailer combo. The enclosed added just enough drag that the gearing was wrong (4th too tall, 3rd too short). It had 3.90's and needed the taller rear end ratio. It did have enough mass and wheelbase to control it well, the newer ones are even beefier. Lots more power too with the hemi. Sorry about the Excursion deal, learned my lesson there - call Phil 1st ;)
    47CP
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    07 Mar 2007 05:57 PM

    Stan Whitney wrote:
    My old Durango worked great with a light car/open trailer combo. The enclosed added just enough drag that the gearing was wrong (4th too tall, 3rd too short). It had 3.90's and needed the taller rear end ratio. It did have enough mass and wheelbase to control it well, the newer ones are even beefier. Lots more power too with the hemi. Sorry about the Excursion deal, learned my lesson there - call Phil 1st ;)

    FWIW, I would use a bit of caution on the later Durango's with an enclosed trailer of any size. Sam Platt towed his 24' with his older (previous body style one) with no problems, but upgraded to an 05 and it was sway city. He tired about 15 different sway/hitch combos and even got a new trailer with 3 axles and it still was funky. Trailer tows fine behind his new DOdge Ram2500.

    We *speculate* that there is just enough extra compiance in the watts link rear ends to cause trouble. Maybe Sam will see this thread and pipe in with first hand facts.

    Open trailer, I wouldn't worry.

    DaveW

    Phillip S. Osborne
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    07 Mar 2007 08:38 PM

    Andy Hollis wrote:
    Hey Phil, check your e-mail re:tires. --Andy

    Thanks Andy, got it...

    EM 8
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    07 Mar 2007 08:52 PM

    I towed an enclosed 22' trailer with a 2001 Durango (5.9, 3.92 axle) until I replaced it with an 04 hemi w/3.92 axle. Both pulled it fine power wise, but the 04 obviously had better power. I had no sway issues with the 2001, always relaxing to drive. The 2004 did have issues with sway. I tried many different things to fix it, also went to a 24' three axle trailer after I had the 04. What made the biggest difference was going to a load range E tire. This fixed 90% of the problem, but it still had a small issue with sway. As Dave said, I think the it was caused by the fact that it had coil springs with a watts linkage to control side forces. The watts linkage has rubber bushings, and I think side forces fed into the tow vehicle through the ball could move the back of the truck sideways some amount by compressing these bushings. Leaf springs on the 01 don't have much sideways compliance. I think the compliance of the watts linkage, combinded with the flex of the standard load range tire was enough to steer the truck around. I actually had three different std load range tires in the truck to try to cure it (Goodyear, BFG and Michelin) before I went to the load range E tires. I don't think the sway would be as much of an issue with an open trailer.

    It was last August when I purchased the load range E tires (Pirelli Scorpion) on new Durango aluminum wheels and the difference was very noticable. I used these for about 1200 miles before the end of the session. Just traded ithe Durango in on a Ram 2500 cummins. Now all I have to do is figure out what to do with the wheels/tires I have left over from the Durango. I put the stad tires and wheels on before I traded it in.

    Sam

    SteveEkstrand
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    29 Mar 2007 11:50 PM

    Hey Phil!

    I don't get on here too much. I have a 2004 Durango with the Hemi that I tow with. Our open trailer is quite heavy, like David said about 2400lbs. Maybe more now with the added tongue box that we load full all the time. The car is a little over 2000 though. So with 4600 or so the Durango tows great. Better power and braking than the old 2000 4.7L Dakota. The Dakota would pull over the grades but you'd have to watch the coolant gauge and be sensitive to the abuse. The Durango with the Hemi doesn't care. The Dakota had the firm Hotchkis suspension and barely dropped with the trailer. The Durango is super soft and drops about 4 inches. All later gen Durango's are at 4wd height thanks to marketing surveys that said soccer moms liked to ride high. Almost as stupid as OEM cats and no A/C allowance in STS.... [6]

    I view the 2004 Durango as a huge move up from the first gens. Lots of room, comfortable, great power.

    I increased the track with different offset Centerline Rotary Forged wheels. I think the OEM's are too tucked. I think the wider stance (and 285 Kumho Ecsta STX tires) make it look a lot better than stock. I don't think the change is enough to seriously shorten bearing life.

    mccanixx
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    30 Mar 2007 08:24 AM

    What about the gas tank size on the newer Durangos'? Local region member has one 04-05, pulls an 18' enclosed with some swaying, but he complains about the frequency of stopping to fill up. I think, he said, it has a 16 gal. tank.

    He stopped 5 times on the way to Topeka from Toledo. He was getting about a 150-160 mile range before stopping. Drove himself and those caravaning with him nuts. Although it did make sure there were plenty of bathroom breaks. [:P]

    Is tank size an option on Durangos?

    my .02

    Phillip S. Osborne
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    30 Mar 2007 10:25 PM

    Well, the decision has been made for me for now... such as it is... When I saw fuel prices heading towards three bucks per gallon a couple of weeks ago, we decided to replace my wife's leased Honda Pilot with a VW Jetta Wolfsberg Edition, and I am going to use the Pilot to tow to local and regional events. Actually, I sold my M'Speed Miata and put it on the aluminum open trailer and hauled it from Lexington, KY to Nashville for the new owner, and the Pilot handled it very well, much to my surprise. The CRX weighs 500 or so lbs less than the M'Speed Miata, so I gotta think it will handle that load easily with a total weight of around 3100 lbs, which includes extra set of tires and wheels, tool box, jack, etc...I do need to install a trailer brake though...The Pilot goes off lease in September, and between now and then I will be looking for something a little more substantial. For long distance events I use the RV anyway, but I think the Pilot will be ok for a few more months...assuming I don't get into transmission issues. Perhaps I should install a cooler on it, assuming it doesn't have one...

    Thanks for all the feedback on the Durango guys. I have heard some folks suggest the Hemi actually gets better mileage than the 4.7. Can anyone elaborate on that? Sam, if you still have those tires and wheels when I get the Durango, I may take them off your hands...maybe sooner if you want to shoot me a price. You can email me directly at psosborne@alltel.net if you want...

    Phil O.

    EM 8
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    30 Mar 2007 10:47 PM
    The second gen Durango has a 27 gallon tank. I could go about 200 miles between fill ups with a 24 foot enclosed trailer and still have 5 gallons in the tank. It got 9 - 10 mpg towing at about 70 mph. Dropping down to about 68 mph I would get almost 11 mpg if there was no headwind.
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