If you’re a fan of the Anchorman movies or Will Ferrell, you’ve probably seen the 70 or so Ron Burgundy Dodge Durango commercials.
Dodge took a chance with Will Ferrell’s comedic character when it came time to re-launching the latest iteration of the Durango mid-sized SUV last fall and it seems to have paid off.
Although most of the spots have nothing to do with an SUV, sales of the Durango rose by over 59% in the USA within a month of the ads spots airing.
If you’re looking for a full-sized SUV that isn’t as large as the body-on-frame Toyota Sequoia, Ford Expedition/Lincoln Navigator twins, or the GMC Yukon/Chevy Tahoe twins, the Durango is a good option to consider.
Riding on an elongated platform shared with the current generation Jeep Grand Cherokee (which in itself shares its platform with the Mercedes-Benz M-Class), the Durango provides much of what people love about large SUVs but without the feeling of bulk and ponderous handling.
- Most Durangos will likely be ordered with the 290hp 3.6L Pentastar V6. However, my top-of-the-range Durango 4WD Citadel was equipped with the top spec engine, the 360hp 5.7L Hemi V8. Equipped as such, the Durango can tow up to 7,200 lbs whereas the V6 models are only rated for 6,200 lbs towing capacity. The Hemi adds an unexpected lively character to what is already a capable family hauler. My Durango tester was surprisingly fun to drive with more than ample passing power at every speed. The ride was quiet and composed even over rough roads, and the Hemi V8 engine is well matched with Chrysler’s new eight-speed transmission.
- My Durango Citadel was also equipped with a two speed 4WD transfer case (only available on V8 models). The low range gearing is useful for deep snow, mud, or even when towing a boat up a slippery boat launch.
- The eight-speed transmission is controlled with the same rotary knob as in the Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck. It seems to have been inspired by a similar rotary dial in the latest Jaguar Land Rover products. Not bad company to be associated with. Built under license from ZF, the transmission executes shifts quickly and smoothly, even under manual control mode via the steering wheel paddles. The tall 7th and 8th overdrive gears, along with cylinder deactivation technology, helps keep fuel consumption to a minimum.
- Transport Canada lists the Hemi V8’s fuel consumption as 15.1L/100 kms in the city, and 9.1L/100 kms on the highway. I averaged just over 14L/100 kms in mix highway and city driving.
- Freshened for 2014, this latest Durango still wears Dodge’s signature crosshair grill but the latest iteration is now aggressively slanted forward. It’s a look that has worked well with other members of the Dodge line-up and the Ram pickup truck family, so why mess with success? Different trim levels have different exterior trim accents and grille treatments. My Citadel model was equipped with a very blingy chrome grille which definitely looked the part of a high-end SUV. One that wouldn’t be out of place when parked next to a Cadillac Escalade at the country club.
- I love the 2014 model’s new racetrack LED tail lamps. They definitely add a distinctive night signature to the Dodge brand and while providing an elevated level of visibility at night. 192 individual LEDs blended to form one seamless ribbon of glowing red light. It’s a Dodge muscle car-inspired SUV.
- The Durango’s value-for-money quotient is high with a long list of standard equipment including heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and luxury leather trimmed seats on my Citadel tester.
- Interior quality is top notch. There are soft touch vinyl and plastic surfaces everywhere, and the Citadel is equipped with supple top grain leather seating surfaces. I wasn’t a particularly large fan of the tan coloured seats combined with the black dashboard, but your mileage may vary.
- The big front seats are firm but padded well, almost up to German standards. They were comfortable over long hauls but could use a bit more lateral support. There is excellent leg, shoulder, head, and foot room in the second row seats, and the third row is even large enough for full-sized adults. All rear passengers will be comfortable too with limo-style dedicated rear climate control system with satellite controls out back.
- As expected, with the third row up, cargo room is a bit skimpy. However you can still fit a few mid sized duffel bags and a couple of small suitcases if you don’t mind loading the cargo area up to the roof.
- Chrysler’s large 8.4” UConnect touchscreen also adds to the Durango’s appeal. This is one of the largest infotainment LCD touchscreens in the industry and its responsiveness is impressive. It’s definitely something that Ford and GM could learn from for their own systems.
- Traditional knobs/buttons and a logical user interface with large icons compliment the touchscreen’s responsiveness making the overall infotainment experience very pleasant and easy to use.
The proliferation of electric cars and hybrid vehicles combined with ever rising gas prices would seem to suggest that the SUV has gone the way of the dodo bird. However the 2014 Dodge Durango still makes a convincing argument for its continued survival in today’s marketplace.
With its ability to tow up to 7,200 lbs while seating six or seven in comfort, this latest iteration has evolved into a modern, comfortable, and surprisingly agile SUV that has a few technological tricks up its sleeve to keep its passengers safe and fuel expenses as low as possible.
Don’t discount the Durango just because the Dodge badge may not come with a lot of luxury cache. It’s certainly worth adding onto your test drive short list if you’re looking for a new family hauler.