First Drive: 2014 Dodge Durango

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DG014_117DU

The Drive

The Durango impressed us on a number of levels. First was the interior: Material quality and comfort is significantly higher than what we’ve seen on Dodge products these past few years. We drove both an entry-level Durango SXT and a top-of-the-line Durango Citadel, and while we loved the toys in the Citadel – including the UConnect touch-screen stereo/navigation system and an HD-capable rear-seat entertainment system – the SXT impressed us with its alloy wheels and upscale trim. It certainly didn’t feel like a base-model SUV.

We also loved the driving experience. Thanks to its unit-body construction, the Durango is lighter than your typical full-size SUV, weighing in at between 4,700 and 5,400 lbs depending on engine and equipment. The Pentastar V6 delivers stronger acceleration than we expected from such a small engine, and the driving dynamics were a pleasant surprise: Big as it is, the Durango hustles through the curves quietly and confidently, more like a car than an SUV. The Durango shares its basic platform with the Mercedes-Benz GL (a holdover from the days when Dodge’s parent company Chrysler was owned by Mercedes’ parent company Daimler), and it shows: The ride is quiet and comfortable and the Durango is much easier to maneuver and park than full-size SUVs like the Chevy Tahoe and Ford Expedition.

Dodge Durango R/T
2014 Dodge Durango R/T

The Good

Car-like driving dynamics

Truck-like towing abilities

High-quality interior and trim

The Bad

Third-row seat is smaller than other full-size SUVs

V8 engine is thirsty

Dodge has a less-than-stellar reputation for quality

Pricing

Durango pricing starts at $30,790 for the SXT model, which comes with handsome alloy wheels, fog lights, and enough chrome trim to belie its (relatively) inexpensive price. From there, the model lineup diverges: You can add equipment with the $32,490 SXT Plus and $36,990 Limited, or you can go the hot-rod route with the $39,990 Durango R/T. The top-of-the-line Citadel runs $41,990, and can be optioned up to nearly $55,000. SXT and SXT Plus models offer only the V6 engine, the R/T comes exclusively with the V8, and the Limited and Citadel offer both engines. An intriguing addition is the Rallye model (actually a $1,495 option on the SXT Plus). It provides the aggressive look of the R/T model with the fuel-efficient V6 engine, which gets a 5-horsepower bump as an added bonus.

Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango

Verdict

As you can tell, we liked the Durango: It blends the towing and hauling abilities of a full-size truck with the comfort and easy handling of a crossover SUV. And unlike most compromises, this one seems apt at just about everything: It tows competently, rides comfortably, and handles surprisingly well. As an added bonus, the refinement, interior quality, and fit and finish are leagues beyond what we’ve come to expect from Chrysler products.

DriveApart Rating

8 out of 10. We love the way it drives and tows, but long-term quality and durability has yet to be proven, as Chrysler doesn’t have the best track record.

What do you think of the Durango – would you trust it to do the job of a full-size pickup? Share your comments below.

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DriveApart Review: 2013 Acura RDX
Best: 2014 Trucks and SUVs For Towing and Hauling

  • 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