Cool Physics From Ford In 1834, a French physicist named Jean Peltier found an unexpected reaction when he added a section of bismuth wire to a copper circuit. As the current passed from the copper to bismuth, the temperature of the wire increased, but where the current passed from bismuth to copper, there was a cooling effect. Fast-forward to late 2004, when new Mercury Monterey owners harness this "Peltier Effect" to keep their leather seats cool and comfortable, a segment-exclusive feature. The secret is a tiny thermo-electric, or Peltier device, mounted to the seat frame. It has no moving parts, but its temperature changes when supplied with an electrical current. A small electric fan inside the seat directs air over the device and channels it through perforated leather on the seat cushion and backrest - how cool! We think that it'd be cooler still if this tech was applied to the '04 F-150 as well.
'04Dodge Durango HemiWe don't usually cover SUVs in Sport Truck, but the new Durango with available Hemi is such a trick truck that we had to show it to you. The spanking-new '04 Dodge Durango sport utility, available in three trim levels - ST, SLT, and Limited - delivers more cargo room and more capability than last year's model. With a standard V-6, available 4.7L V-8, and the 5.7L Hemi Magnum V-8 backed by the 5-45RFE five-speed automatic, you can order a Durango that'll fit right into your lifestyle.
It comes with an all-new, torsionally stiff, fully hydroformed frame and independent front suspension with rack-and-pinion steering. A new traction control system and available fulltime four-wheel drive are available. The rear suspension is also new; it's a coil spring, solid rear axle Watt's linkage system that enables a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 6,600 pounds and a towing capacity of 8,900 pounds.
The new Durango gets a split-folding third-row seat, and for '04, second-row rear-seat passengers get their own climate controls and a DVD entertainment system. Also for '04, the UConnect hands-free communications system with Bluetooth technology is available. The system can recognize as many as seven different Bluetooth-equipped cellular phones, and it responds to voice commands using a microphone in the rearview mirror and the stereo system's speakers for hands-free conversations. A new nine-speaker, 384-watt Infinity sound system with Ceramic Metal Matrix speakers and a subwoofer that delivers booming sound for CDs and DVDs is optional, as is Sirius satellite digital radio.
The second- and third-row rear seats feature more leg, shoulder, and hip room than the current-generation Durango, and the flat load floor provides 101 cubic feet of cargo room, a 15 percent improvement compared with the current-generation Durango. The second-row seats also have a new recline feature. In addition, the all-new '04 Durango is available with a sunroof for the first time.
Driving ImpressionThe '04 Dodge Durango is one of the best-handling SUVs on the market. Its ride and handling are near the levels of a good independent rear suspension, and in fact, on a smoother section of road, may even be superior.
The Watt's linkage rear suspension is so well done and such an appropriate use of technology that it shows the genius of Dodge's build team. There's no reason to take away payload and towing capacity when you can get 99.9 percent of the ride quality of an IRS with a Watt's linkage-like rear suspension, without the issues of camber and toe change with cargo loads and towing - good stuff.