2014 Dodge Durango Limited SUV (3.6L V6 8-speed Automatic)
Driven On 5/13/2014
With a new eight-speed transmission (up from the previous five-speed), the 2014 Dodge Durango benefits from quicker acceleration and improved fuel economy. It's now competitive with class-leading large SUVs in these categories, although it still trails them in terms of driving dynamics, ride quality and cargo capacity.
PerformanceThe base 3.6-liter V6 engine produces 290 horsepower, making it more than adequate for the vast majority of drivers. Still, acceleration is only about average, and some key rivals handle better. Overall driveability, though, is good.
In our testing the Durango reached 60 mph in 7.8 seconds, which is average for V6-powered large SUVs. Shifts from the 8-speed automatic transmission are quick and smooth, but the engine sounds raspy during hard acceleration.
The Durango required 124 feet to come to a stop from 60 mph during our panic-brake test. That's longer than top rivals but still acceptable and controllable. Distances were consistent, though the pedal got soft after a few runs.
Steering effort is light at all times. That's good for parking lot maneuvers, but there's too much assist at highway speeds. Overall the steering feels vague, with little feedback for the driver.
Soft suspension tuning makes the Durango feel even larger than it is, and therefore gives a ponderous sensation through curves. The excessive body roll/lean gives the driver less confidence than, say, a Mazda CX-9.
Despite its size and only average performance driving dynamics, the Durango doesn't place any unusual demands on the driver. It's generally easy to maneuver and park, and its weight only shows itself when driven hard.
With a maximum towing capacity of 6,200 pounds for the V6-powered rear-wheel-drive model (7,400 lb. with the V8 engine), the Durango is one of the more capable large SUVs in this regard.
ComfortThe Durango is plenty comfortable for four full-sized adults and two smaller passengers. After several hours behind the wheel, there was little-to-no fatigue to report. The only notable drawback is the vehicle's truck-like ride over rough pavement.
Front seats and the optional second-row captain's chairs offer plenty of support and cushioning for long trips. The third row seats are cramped for the average-sized adult, but this is typical among three-row SUVs.
The Durango smoothes out smaller cracks and potholes pretty well, but larger imperfections can cause a shimmying sensation from the rear wheels, much like an unladen pickup truck. It doesn't handle large bumps particularly well, either.
Thanks to generous sound insulation, wind and road noise are detectable but never intrusive. The engine is loud and sounds unrefined when the pedal is pressed to the floor, but otherwise it's pleasantly quiet.
InteriorThe Durango features one of the more upscale interiors in the segment, with admirable materials and a contemporary design. It gets high marks for its Uconnect infotainment interface but gets points deducted for the smaller cargo capacity and glare from the chrome trim and gauge cluster.
Dodge's Uconnect infotainment interface is as good as it gets in the class, thanks to sharp graphics, a large 8.4-inch display screen and quick response to inputs. Other controls are well placed and labeled smartly for easy operation.
A slight step up is needed to get in to the Durango, as is expected. The optional second-row captain's chairs fold and tumble to allow access to the third-row seat, which is only marginally easier than just squeezing between the middle.
Like the front seats, the second row is spacious enough for larger adults. The third row seat cushions are mounted a little low, forcing a big knee bend. They're okay for adults in a pinch, but are best suited for kids.
Outward visibility is as good as other competing SUVs and the standard rearview camera makes backing into a tight spot easy. The placement of the infotainment screen high on the dash puts it comfortably in the driver's sightlines.
With 17.2 cu-ft of cargo room behind the third row and 47.7 cu-ft behind the second row, the Durango is average for the class. With all seats folded flat, 84.5 cu-ft is available. That's considerably smaller than the top competitors.
ValueStarting at $30,990 for the base SXT trim, the Dodge Durango is priced to be nearly identical to rival SUVs. As you graduate to higher trim levels and add options, the price difference remains largely insignificant.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Interior materials and solid construction give the Durango a substantial feel. Compared to other large SUVs in this class, it feels closer to an entry-level luxury vehicle.
In Limited trim, as our Durango test vehicle was outfitted, feature content is comparable to rivals. So are the available bundled options.
With the optional Navigation and Power Liftgate package, Safety/Security and Convenience package and second-row fold/tumble captain's chairs added, the as-tested price rose to $39,930. Similarly-equipped rivals cost about the same.
The EPA estimates fuel economy at 20 mpg Combined (18 City/25 Highway) for our rear-drive V6 test vehicle. This is comparable to other SUVs and confirmed by our 22-mpg result on our highway-heavy evaluation loop.
The Durango's 3-year/36,000-mile basic warrantiy is typical for the class, but the 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage is a bit more generous compared to the 5-year/60,000-mile warranties offered by most rivals.
Dodge offers 5 years/100,000 miles of roadside assistance, but unlike Toyota and Chevrolet, no free scheduled maintenance is included.
Fun To DriveThe Dodge Durango doesn't feel as solidly planted to the road as several of its large SUV rivals. As a result, cornering confidence is reduced, along with the desire to drive it in a spirited fashion.
The Durango's shortcomings in performance are not significant enough for the average shopper/driver to notice. It's likely they'll feel the less-than-stellar ride quality over rough pavement, though.
Most large SUVs lack personality, both in driving dynamics and styling. The Durango makes up for the former with aggressive styling that stands out from the rest. It's the rare SUV with an attitude.
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