By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.0
Full-size SUVs are enjoying renewed popularity, and the Dodge Durango, freshened for 2014, is a leader of the pack. Not quite as large as a Chevy Tahoe, the leaner Durango is no less capable, offering a choice of V6 or Hemi V8 engines, rear- or all-wheel drive (RWD, AWD), five well-equipped trim levels, new electronic features, and a new 8-speed automatic transmission. Though slightly smaller than some rivals, the Durango doesn't sacrifice interior room, comfort or towing ability (6,200 pounds minimum). The only rear-drive unit body in its class, the Durango offers a strong alternative to front-drive crossover SUVs such as the GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer. Equipped with the available 5.7-liter Hemi V8, the Durango can out-tow and out-muscle any V6 – up to 7,400 pounds.
If you require a vehicle that can accommodate up to seven, tow up to 7,400 pounds and fit easily into your garage, the 2014 Dodge Durango tops a very short list. Unit-body construction yields high chassis rigidity and agile handling. And Dodge claims more than 60 safety and security features.
If towing and brute power are not important attributes, a more fuel-efficient option might be wiser. Large front-drive crossover SUVs such as GM's Buick Enclave, Chevy Traverse and GMC Acadia offer similar roominess with better fuel economy. There are also many midsize crossover SUVs with 3-row seating.
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Front-end styling has been updated for 2014, and a "racetrack" taillight design, a la Dodge Charger, distinguishes the rear. Soft-touch surfaces and upgrade materials abound in redesigned interiors, a new 8-speed automatic transmission is standard, fuel economy ratings are up across the board, and infotainment features have been enhanced.
Driving Impressions Despite the 2014 Dodge Durango's mass, the 290-horsepower Pentastar V6 accelerates briskly, delivers ample passing power and tows willingly, its performance and fuel economy enhanced by a smooth new 8-speed...... automatic transmission. The V6 will be more than equal to most towing (up to 6,200 pounds) and cargo hauling, but for heavier trailers (up to 7,400 pounds), or just picking up the pace, the optional 390-horsepower Hemi V8 may be preferable. Not only does it enhance thrust, it makes seductive V8 sounds in the process. Like all vehicles in this category, the 2014 Durango feels ponderous compared to passenger cars, and its steering is a bit numb. But its responses are agile versus competing SUVs, particularly in the sporty R/T. Ride quality is smooth in most trim levels (firmer in the R/T), the redesigned cabin is quiet, and the powerful brakes seem to be fade free despite repeated hard use.
About the closest you'll get to an SRT version of the 2014 Durango, the R/T's lowered sport suspension, recalibrated shocks and springs, and aggressive low-profile 20-inch tires make this a very agile vehicle by full-size SUV standards. Oh, did we mention it's got a Hemi?
ADAPTIVE CRUISE CONTROL
Adaptive cruise is a plus in slow-and-go traffic, but it leaves overly large gaps at higher speeds that invite other drivers to cut in front. The Durango's new adaptive cruise option not only reduces the minimum gap to the vehicle ahead, its adaptive function can be suspended without shutting the system off.
The interior of the 2014 Durango reflects luxury-car quality and craftsmanship, an update that emphasizes comfort, premium materials, visual elegance and supreme quiet. Limited and Citadel trims offer such features as heated and ventilated front seats, heated 2nd-row seating and standard leather seating. The Durango's 28 possible configurations allow for any combination of people and cargo, from the roomy spot behind the 2nd-row seat to the full-length flat cargo floor created by the flush-folding front passenger seat. A purposeful black color scheme, highlighted by bright trim elements, distinguishes the sporty R/T, and in Durangos equipped with 2nd-row captain's chairs a new pass-through feature eases 3rd-row access.Exterior
Freshened for 2014, the Durango's front fascia sports a set of LED eyeliners under the projector-beam headlights that serve as daytime running lights. There are three versions of Dodge's familiar cross-hair grille, all slimmer than their predecessors. A new LED array makes a double span across the rear end, the distinctive "racetrack taillight" display. Rallye and R/T models are distinguished by more body-colored trim, as well as the R/T's lower ride height, while others get more brightwork, especially the top-of-the-line Citadel. There are seven new wheel designs, ranging from 18 to 20 inches, and nine colors. The Durango has been one of the most readily identifiable of all SUVs, as well as one of the best-looking, since its 1998 introduction.
The entry-level SXT trim features the Uconnect infotainment system with voice command, 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, fog lights, heated power side mirrors, tri-zone automatic climate control, three 12-volt outlets, tilt/telescopic steering column and an AM/FM/CD radio with WMA/MP3 support, Sirius Satellite Radio and auxiliary input jack. At the high end of the Durango spectrum, the Citadel adds 20-inch wheels, a power liftgate, power sunroof, configurable instruments, 8.4-inch center-stack touch screen with 3D Navigation, HID headlights, Nappa leather seats, heated and ventilated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control, Rear Cross Path Detection system, heated power tilt/telescopic steering wheel and keyless Enter-N-Go.
Options vary by trim level and include a new navigation radio system with 8.4-inch touch screen, voice activation and Sirius Travel Link; configurable instrumentation, power sunroof, ParkView rearview camera, ParkSense rear park assist, Blind-spot Monitoring, auto-dimming high beams, UConnect phone (Bluetooth), Alpine premium audio, Bluetooth streaming audio, heated 2nd-row seats, power liftgate, rain-sensing wipers, a heated steering wheel and skidplates. Option packages include the Trailer Tow Group IV that adds a 220-amp alternator, heavy-duty engine oil cooler, Class IV hitch receiver and load-leveling rear shocks. The Rallye Appearance Group adds 20-inch polished wheels, black bezel headlights and body-colored trim.
On all but the R/T trim the 2014 Dodge Durango's standard engine is Chrysler's award-winning Pentastar V6. Unquestionably one of the best V6 engines ever from Chrysler, it has more than enough power to satisfy most SUV drivers. Equipped with dual-overhead cams and variable-valve timing, the 3.6-liter Pentastar is capable of achieving maximum performance without sacrificing fuel economy. The Durango's optional 5.7-liter Hemi V8 features a fuel-saver mode that seamlessly deactivates four of the eight cylinders when full power is not required. When power is needed, however, the Hemi has it in spades, delivering 360 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of tow-ready torque. Both engines are mated to a smooth 8-speed automatic transmission, new for 2014, and AWD is available with either.
290 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg (RWD), 17/24 mpg (AWD)
360 horsepower @ 5,150 rpm
390 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/23 mpg (RWD), 14/22 mpg (AWD)
The 2014 Dodge Durango SXT has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $30,790 for the RWD model and $33,190 for AWD. The Rallye bumps the price to $33,985, Limited models start at $36,990, the V8-powered R/T at $39,990, and Citadel pricing, the top of the order, opens at $41,990. With the Hemi V8 and AWD a fully loaded Citadel tops out right around $50,000. These prices compare well with comparably equipped versions of the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer, none of which offers a V8 option. To get the best Durango deal, be sure to take a look at the Fair Purchase Price on KBB.com to learn what buyers in your area are actually paying. As for resale, we expect the new Durango will probably hold its own against the Chevrolet Traverse, but still fall short of the Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer.