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2014 Dodge Durango Citadel AWD Review By Steve Purdy

2014 Dodge Durango Citadel AWD

By Steve Purdy
Michigan Bureau

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Dodge Durango started life as a mid-size, rear-wheel drive, body-on-frame SUV and has evolved into this large, 7-passenger, three-row, uni-body CUV. It is still rear-wheel drive but can be optioned with either an unobtrusive all-wheel drive or a fully competent 4-wheel drive for serious towing or off-roading, and it can be had with a V8 as well as the standard V6. It also started out struggling to get into the high teens for fuel mileage and can now easily manage the low 20s with either engine. Darn good, we thought, for this category of vehicle.

Those who don’t want to be seen in a classic mini-van, like the Chrysler Town & Country, have a good option in the Dodge Durango. Dodge dropped the Town & Country sibling, Caravan, some time ago so brand loyalists can have the Durango if they need three rows of seats. They’ll get a bit less interior space than the mini-van but towing capacity and off-road cred make a good trade off.

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With each redesign Durango has gotten a bit less trucky. The first one was essentially the Dakota pickup with a full body. Now it looks nothing like any of the Dodge trucks. While it retains some machismo it's character is much more suburban and civilized while eschewing the minivan style. A chrome crosshatch grille announces its brand identity as its profile, stance and character suggest more a larger station wagon. A distinctive rear view features large taillights connected with a red uni-brow, facilitated by 192 LEDs, just like the Charger. A large hatch with flat lift over makes for convenient loading.

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Inside, the Detroit-built Durango has a new simple and functional design with improved materials and significant styling changes. Auxiliary port, USB and power outlets are conveniently located at the base of the center stack where they ought to be. Controls and gauges are easy to manage and read.
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This is an all-new instrument panel and they’ve done a good job of updating it. Seats are comfortable as part of a spacious cabin. The large 8.4-inch touchscreen presents more information than I’ll ever use or need and works well including the newest version of the Uconnect app system that works with your smart phone. Second row seats fold and tumble making access to the third row better than most.

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As we mentioned earlier the Durango is available with a V8 but our tester is the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 making 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are mated to the charming and efficient new 8-speed automatic. EPA estimates for this powertrain shows 17 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway and 19 combined using regular fuel. Without AWD you can add one click to each of those numbers. It is E85 capable as well. We managed 23.5 in our week using conventional fuel and that was with fairly evenly mixed driving environments.

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While the base Durango starts just under 30 grand our top-of-the-line “Citadel” starts at just over 40 - $43,400 with AWD. It comes standard with power liftgate, automatic Bi-Xenon HID headlamps, 3-zone HVAC, heated steering wheel, rotary electric shifter, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, Uconnect, GPS navigation, heated second-row seats, premium instrument cluster, power sun roof, capless fuel filler, 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, dual exhaust and a full compliment of safety features and chassis dynamics. These are just the highlights.

Our Citadel test car has the Technology Package (adaptive cruise control, brake assist, collision warning, blind spot and cross traffic warning), the Rear DVD Entertainment Package, Trailering package, captains chairs for our second row seating and second row console. With the destination charge we’re looking at just over 50 grand on our sticker’s bottom line.

Driving dynamics are excellent. While the Durango is a big vehicle it is reasonably agile, surprisingly quick for having just the V6 and the ride is firm but comfortable, except on exceptionally rough roads. The electro-hydraulic steering is as good as any meaning tight and precise, not sporty.

Durango with the V6 engine shows a maximum towing capacity of an impressive 6,200 pounds. With the V8 you can tow 7,400 pounds.

The Dodge new car warranty covers the whole car for 3 years or 36,000 miles and the powertrain for 5 years or 100,000 miles.

Competition is stiff in this category with GM’s three-row crossovers (Traverse, Acadia and Enclave), Mazda CX9, Toyota Highlander, Kia Sedona and others. This Durango’s cargo space is a bit less than most of them but towing capacity is better. With the new interior its now as sophisticated and luxurious as the competition with just a bit more machismo. The 20-inch wheels on our high-end Citadel give it an extra bit of cool as well.

I found the Durango easy to live with, attractive and reasonably practical.

See what you think.

ęSteve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved