First Drive: 2014 Dodge Durango

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If you want to tow with an SUV, your choices are limited: Either a crossover that can only tow the lightest of bikes or a full-size SUV that requires a harbor pilot to park and an oil tanker to fuel it. The Dodge Durango is an excellent compromise: Big and brawny enough to haul bikes and gear, small and agile enough to be useful as a daily driver.

What’s New?

The Durango gets a facelift for 2014, including some slight changes to the front fascia and the nifty “racetrack” loop taillight from the Charger and Dart, plus a handful of interior improvements. The V6 and V8 engines remain the same, but the Durango gets a new 8-speed automatic transmission, designed to improve acceleration and fuel economy.

Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango

Towing and Hauling

Towing is one of the Durango’s strong suits. V6-powered Durangos can tow 6,200 lbs while V8s can tow up to 7,400 lbs, and a 119.8″ wheelbase allows the Durango to comfortably pull trailers up to 22′ or so. Those are pretty serious numbers – while many SUVs are limited to flat-bedding a few bikes or ATVs, the Durango can pull a decent-sized travel trailer, and we even found a couple of small, light-weight toy haulers that fit the Durango’s towing specs. During our test drive, we had a chance to tow a single-axle Airstream with a V6-powered Durango, and while it wasn’t quick – an issue that can be solved by opting for the HEMI V8 engine – it did feel stable and secure.

The Durango is a proper seven-seater, with room (albeit marginal) for two adults in the third row. With the rearmost seats folded down, the Durango offers 47.7 cu.-ft. of space, plenty of space for riding gear – and without the need to leave it out in the open as you would with a pickup truck.

Dodge Durango Instrument Panel
2014 Dodge Durango Instrument Panel

Engine and Drivetrain

The Durango’s standard engine is Chrysler’s Pentastar V6, a 3.6 liter unit that delivers 290 horsepower (295 in the Rallye model) and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. Optional is the 5.7 liter HEMI V8, rated at 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. For 2014, both come paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission, which boosts both acceleration and fuel economy compared to last year’s 6-speed automatic. Both engines can be had with either rear- or full-time all-wheel-drive, though only V8-powered Durangos offer a locking low-range transfer case for serious off-road duty.

EPA fuel economy estimates for the V6 engine are impressive: 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway with rear-wheel-drive and 17/24 for all-wheel-drive. The V8′s figures are more in line with our expectations: 14/23 with RWD and 14/22 with AWD.

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  • luxlamf

    Do love me those Dodges, Whenever out f town I am in a rental Charger or Challenger.

  • charlie

    Xterras are pretty good too. Not as much towing capacity as the Durango but overall a good performer. Just as long as you’re not towing stuff meant for a dually.

    • Piglet2010

      Isn’t the Xterra based off the Frontier? My first-gen 4WD Frontier with the V-6/AT can pull a 4,000 pound trailer over rolling hills with no problem – might not pull a 5,000 pound trailer over one of the Rocky Mountain passes at 75 mph, but then how often do most people do that?

      • charlie

        Yea same platform. I’m pretty sure the Frontier tows the same too.

  • Corey Cook

    Pretty rad Minivan…
    How many soccer tots can it hold?

    • darngooddesign

      From the article:
      “The Durango is a proper seven-seater…”

    • Piglet2010

      Before the safety communists took over, kids could ride in the back of a pick-em-up truck – I used to love doing that when I was a kid.

  • Piglet2010

    I know people who as part of their job used to have to pull 15+ ton
    trailers with trucks that made less than 120 HP (at least they were diesels, so probably near 300 lb-ft. of torque) – imaging crossing the
    Dakota’s at 48-mph top speed.

    People these days really are spoiled.

  • Piglet2010

    I refuse to buy any vehicle styled to appeal to the “reptilian brain”.

    • darngooddesign

      So you drive a Prius and ride a Yamaha VIno then?

      • Piglet2010

        I have a “Modern Classics” Bonnie, Honda Deauville, Elite and Civic, Yamaha TW200, Nissan Frontier, and a pre-gen Ninjette.

  • stever

    probably a nightmare to lanesplit

  • Justin McClintock

    I don’t need to tow anything heavy. So I’d rather have a minivan. Coincidentally, that’s what my next vehicle purchase will likely be.

  • SpikedLemon

    My VW Golf can tow one tonne. More than enough for toting a bike or camper