Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) currently has one assembly plant operating inside the city limits of Detroit. The Jefferson North Assembly Plant (JNAP) produces the Grand Cherokee for US and worldwide export and the Durango for US, Canada, Mexico. The Grand Cherokee has called JNAP home since the nameplate was first introduced in 1993. Grand Cherokee is a solid performer with sales over 257,000 units in North America alone last year. Many questions have been raised about production capacity restraints at the plant. The Durango currently sells 75,000 units built per year. It is believed both vehicles could sell more if they were not competing against each other for production capacity.
Mopar Insiders sources have heard that FCA has figured out a way to solve the issue and offer Durango better chance to tackle the three row SUV competition, like the Chevrolet Tahoe. We expect the next generation Dodge Durango will move from the shared unibody with the Grand Cherokee over to based over to a body-on-frame (BoF) platform based on the Ram 1500. This is will be first time since 2009 that the Durango will be on a BoF architecture.
The next Durango is expected leave JNAP and move to the Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Warren, Michigan alongside the all-new 2020 Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer (WS). The Durango will continue to be aimed at its current “street based” market while our sources state the “WS” twins will be more focused on luxury and off-road capability. The Warren plant, FCA’s oldest plant, will go through a $1.1 billion dollar upgrade after production ends of the 2018 Ram 1500 (DS) models this summer. After the renovations and upgrades, the new Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer, Ram HD and Durango will all call it home by 2021.
The Dodge Durango nameplate made its debut as a BoF mid-size SUV in 1997, as a 1998 model. It continued on after a 2004 model year change where it got to almost full-size proportions. It was then when the Durango started being cross-shopped with vehicles like the Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition and GMC Yukon. After being axed during the automotive crisis in 2009, the vehicle was moved to a slightly smaller three-row SUV based on the Grand Cherokee platform.
The BoF position of Durango allows it to take on the Ford Expedition and Chevrolet Tahoe more than ever. Dodge just announced two weeks ago, that they planned to battle the Chevrolet Tahoe PPV and Ford Explorer Police Interceptor with the introduction of the Durango Pursuit for 2018. As the SUV segment grows not only for the consumer market but the law enforcement fleet market as well, it makes sense to focus Durango back to its roots. Ford is currently working on a unibody RWD/AWD Ford Explorer, more of what the Durango currently is. But General Motors is looking at launch its new lineup of BoF SUVs next year.
Mopar Insiders expects the Durango will still carry HEMI power in it’s lineup. There could be up to four or five possible choices of powertrains available with a performance oriented SRT model as well. We aren’t sure if the SRT model will use the all-new 7.0-liter (426CI) HEMI V8 or possibly a 6.2-liter HEMI Supercharged Hellcat V8. The mild hybrid Pentastar V6 and 5.7 Hemi V8 from the Ram 1500 should also make an appearance. A more robust hybrid model may also be in the works.