FCA-PSA merger plans suggest the next Durango might be a good old-fashioned body-on-frame SUV.
The next Dodge Durango might see the mid-size utility vehicle return to traditional body-on-frame construction, eschewing the unibody structure adopted with the birth of the current third-generation Durango in 2010. The first two Dodge Durango generations were true SUVs, featuring body-on-frame construction underpinned by the full-frame of the Dodge Dakota.
According to Mopar Insiders, the new fourth-generation Dodge Durango will be built alongside the forthcoming Jeep Wagoneer at FCA's Warren Truck Assembly Plant. It's unclear when the new body-on-frame Durango will debut, although in a presentation given on the occasion of FCA's merger with the French PSA Group, the automaker revealed that the mechanically similar Jeep Wagoneer would enter production in the first quarter of 2021.
FCA's Warren Truck Assembly Plant will receive a significant overhaul to support production of the next-generation Dodge Durango, along with as the 2022 Jeep Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer, an all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee, and a three-row Grand Cherokee model, Mopar Insider reports.
But unlike the Dodge Durango and the Jeep Wagoneer models, those Grand Cherokees will continue to use unibody construction, reportedly adopting the Alfa Romeo Giorgio platform that underpins the Giulia sedan and Stelvio crossover. The platform is designed for a longitudinal (RWD-based) drivetrain configuration, and it's remarkably lightweight, with superb ride and handling characteristics.
Even before the next-generation Dodge Durango debuts, in 2020, a mild-hybrid version could be added to the lineup. Such a model was reportedly described in FCA's newly renegotiated contract with the United Auto Workers union, and it will use a 48-volt belted alternator-starter system like the one used on the new Ram 1500 eTorque mild hybrids.
As a matter of course, one should take all this news with a grain of salt; there is still a lot of uncertainty, and automakers change and cancel plans all the time. In fact, it was January of 2011 when then-CEO Sergio Marchionne first announced the future return of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer nameplate, and the vehicle has been pushed back several times since.