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Hello Jill,

Although some will assume that the Ontario that you say you are from is Ontario, California. After reading your mileage question I think you must be closer to me.

Anyway, my wife and I were looking for a non-mini van solution for some of the same duties as you are.

We really like our Durango! The one thing you should keep in mind, both when buying and when owning it, is that it is a truck. It rides like a truck, runs like a truck, consumes gas like a truck and should be maintained like a truck. With that said, it will also last like a truck. If it were a Dodge K car, at 100K Km it would be ready for the scrap yard. These Durangos (and Dakotas) are just getting started at that mileage.

We bought a 99 basically because of price and the options that I was looking for. In 99 there were only three engine options (V6, 5.2 & 5.9). I think it would be rare to even find a V6 up here in the Great White North, so, you will most likely be looking at 5.2 and 5.9 powered Durangos. In most cases, like all SUVs, they have been used as family cars and have never seen mud or towed heavy trailers. The drivetrains on these things are based on Dakota trucks and are quite robust. If the used Durango looks good on the outside, and it has never towed a tank, it will usually be in good mechanical condition as well. The engines, themselves, have a proven track record and have been manufactured for years without many major problems. The transmissions have had a few problems, but, good maintenance goes a long way.

We bought ours at 120,000km and have had to do a few repairs over the last year or so to keep it near perfect. There is a common problem with the intake manifold plenum gaskets leaking (common with all Magnum V8s), but, this will only have to be fixed once (hopefully by the previous owner). I have also heard of the oil pump problems, but, it isn't as common as you think. Keep in mind that there have been over a million of these things built since 98!

Shortcommings of the Durango:

Heavy gas consumption (I want Christmas cards from the oil companies)!
Rough truck like ride

Benifits of a Durango:

Handles like a much lighter SUV
can tow anything!
seating for 7 adults

My wife was a little intimidated when I brought it home. She thought that she might have difficulty parking it and navigating through traffic. She now drives it like it was a Mustang! It can do a 180 degree turn, from curb to curb, on out street! With the 5.9 (and a handful of aftermarket parts) it will light up the tires on command and keep up with most other cars on the road (something my wife has really grown to love).

I had a Ford Explorer before this. The Ford was very fragile and has some really undesireable road habits. The Durango is a real truck! Some of the owners on this site and others have over 300,000 MILES on theirs and still going. I say go for it. Other than the gas mileage issue you will learn to love it! I would recommend looking for a SLT 4x4 based on what you need it to do. The Sport models are stripped down too much. The SLT+ added wood grain trim and that is about it. I'm not sure if a R/T model was available in 99, but, I'm sure I will be corrected on that one!

Good luck!
 
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