2014 Dodge Durango
By Gary Witzenburg
On Sale: Summer 2013
Expected Pricing: $30,000-$46,000
Unveiled at the New York International Auto Show, the 2014 Dodge Durango full-size three-row crossover utility is significantly improved, with freshened looks, better fuel economy and an expanded array of features. Most important are its new 8-speed automatic transmission, which improves fuel economy and performance, and the addition of Chrysler's easy-to-use Uconnect Access touchscreen infotainment system.
When Chrysler redesigned Dodge Durango for 2011, it earned accolades and sales for its appealing combination of modern, muscular styling; quiet, comfortable interior; commodious cargo capacity; class-leading power and towing capability; and road-hugging ride and handling.
For 2014, Durango is nicely upgraded and includes five trim levels: base SXT, Rallye, new mid-level Limited, R/T, and top-of-the-line Citadel.
Durango's standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 generates 290 horsepower, 260 pound-feet of torque and up to 9-percent better fuel-economy with its new 8-speed automatic compared to the previous transmission.
The optional 5.7-liter HEMI V8 pumps out 360 horses and 390 lb.-ft., and its cylinder-deactivating Fuel Saver Technology alternates between V8 and four-cylinder modes depending on demand. A new Eco Mode optimizes throttle sensitivity, the transmission's shift schedule, the cylinder deactivation and interactive deceleration fuel shut-off, which cuts fuel delivery when coasting to reduce consumption.
Unlike most crossover utility vehicles, the 2014 Dodge Durango offers a choice of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive with either the V6 or the V8. V8 models with all-wheel drive include a low-range transfer case.
Properly equipped 2014 Durango models can tow up to 6200 pounds with the V6 or 7400 pounds with the V8.
Durango's unibody structure uses high-strength and ultra-high strength steels to improve driving dynamics while decreasing weight. Its short/long arm front and multi-link independent rear suspensions have aggressive shock and spring rates, large anti-roll bars (anti-sway bars) and isolated cradles front and rear for precise handling with a cushioned ride. Standard electro-hydraulic power steering and electronic stability control help maintain steering feel and vehicle stability. Durango shares its basic structure with the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Other new features include a 7-inch customizable color instrument cluster; 5- or 8.4-inch touchscreens with available Uconnect Access (with Wi-Fi capability and mobile apps) and navigation with 3D mapping; voice-command hands-free calling, texting and music streaming via Bluetooth; a Blu-ray/DVD rear-entertainment system with dual 9-inch screens; second-row captain's chairs with a standard pass-through center console; new standard capless fuel fill, a Rallye Group monochromatic appearance package with 20-inch Hyper Black wheels; and more than 60 available safety and security features including adaptive cruise with stop function, forward collision warning with collision mitigation and auto crash notification/911 call.
Durango can seat seven passengers with the standard seating or second-row captain's chairs can be ordered for six-passenger capability. The seats can be converted to multiple configurations, and those captain's chairs leave pass-through space for easy access to the third row. The standard 60/40 middle-row seats fold and tumble, recline 18 degrees and are available with heat. The third-row seat splits 50/50 and is easily folded from the rear of the vehicle, and a switch in the instrument panel remotely lowers its headrests when it's not in use.