I can’t remember the last time a large SUV turned heads but this model had passersby, friends and family all taking notice…

2014 Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango
2014 Dodge Durango

 

2014 Dodge Durango

The 2014 Dodge Durango test truck was the perfect Christmas treat.

This is the perfect kind of vehicle to have when you need to cart around extra kids and family from events like skating parties to Christmas dinners to anything else that needed done over the festive season. With three rows of seats and seating for six or seven passengers, the Durango is a large comfortable vehicle for any large family or a family of four that needs to take extra people to soccer or hockey practice. The Durango tester was the top of line Citadel model with a beautiful two-tine interior, large polished wheels and classy looking grille. It was not fitted with winter tires but we had no skiing plans, plus all Durango models come with AWD as standard equipment.

Looks

I can’t remember the last time a large SUV turned heads but this model had passersby, friends and family all taking notice. Several neighbors commented on the stylish “racetrack” rear light bar that has migrated from the Dodge Dart and Charger sedans to this big SUV for 2014. Because of standard AWD and other packaging changes the starting price is higher than direct competitors, the Ford Explorer or Nissan Pathfinder. Both those vehicle have a base model that starts around $30,000, the Durango, in contrast, starts at $39,995 and tops out at $51,995. This Citadel model, with options, is over $60,000.

The base model comes nicely equipped with 18-inch wheels, keyless entry and Bluetooth streaming to name a few. Dodge believes the $43995 Limited model will be the volume seller thanks to a backup camera with sensors, heated seats, over the first two rows, and a higher level of interior trim.

Inside

Updates to the interior for 2014 include a new steering wheel that controls two new screens on the dash. The first, is the intuitive and very quick uConnect screen in the centre of the console. All Durango models, except this top Citadel, get a 5-inch unit; this trim gets the 8.3-inch version, which is too bad. The second screen is embedded in the instrument cluster and can be customized. I tried my hand at this but never really mastered it. The biggest selling point for the Durango is the amount of space it offers over three rows for 6 or 7 passengers. My youngest son loved climbing into the third row and could actually stretch out. I even tried it out and can report that adults have plenty of room in any seat.

The Citadel model came equipped with a stunning two-tone interior featuring black carpets and tan seats. This contrast won over my wife who wouldn’t have looked twice at a Durango but after the first week she admitted how much she enjoyed the experience. If you take extra passengers regularly, I would opt for the less expensive bench seat that allows room for 7 people inside.

Drive

The big update for 2014 is the introduction of an 8-speed automatic transmission to help limit the amount of fuel this big rig uses. When matched to the base 290hp 3.6L V6 the official fuel rating is 12.4L/100km in the city and 8.3L on the highway. The optional 5.7L V8 with 360hp uses much more fuel and is rated at 15.6L/100km in the city and 9.1L on the highway. Over two weeks, in almost 100% city driving, and short trips I used a whopping 20L/100 in the city. If the Durango were allowed to stretch its legs on the open road that number would have been much better. Handling is first rate thanks to a Mercedes-Benz derived platform (GL-Class), there is a good amount of road feel but bigger bumps are eaten up with no fuss.

Two things I would like to see included in the Durango. The first is a sport setting for the transmission. Sure, my Citadel model had paddle shifters but being able to set a more aggressive shift pattern would be welcome. Second, is the inclusion of the new EcoDiesel engine that is available in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. With 420 lb-ft. of torque from a fuel sipping 3.0L V6 turbo diesel would make this stylish truck a performer and save on fuel.

Verdict

This latest Durango is yet another example of what Chrysler is doing right. It is loaded with the latest technology, has a class leading 8-speed automatic, attitude and room to spare. I enjoyed my entire time with it and so did the rest of the family, we even gave it a name, “The Badongo” I don’t know why, but it really is one Bad Durango. If I can read the tea leaves for a moment, I would bet the EcoDiesel will be coming to the Durango, hopefully sooner rather then better.

Contact: zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

The Lowdown

Power: 3.6L V6 with 290hp or 5.7L V8 with 360hp

Fill-up: 12.2L/8.3L/100km (city/highway V6)

Sticker price: $39,995-$51,995

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