2014 Dodge Durango Limited AWD

The thing that strikes me foremost about the Durango is that it is a solid vehicle.

The thing that strikes me foremost about the Durango is that it is a solid vehicle. And that’s a good thing. Oftentimes, it seems, vehicles that look like SUVs—and the Durango looks like an SUV—feel like they’re sedans. Oftentimes, they are sedans in disguise. But the Durango, despite the fact that it has a steel unibody and is not a truck-like body-on-frame vehicle, has the solidity that one would expect from a vehicle that has such a robust appearance.

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The second thing that strikes me about the Durango is the fact that inside the cabin it is really well executed. The materials, surfaces, trim—everything is evidently thought through. There is a unity and an overall sense that this isn’t an interior that is a combination of disparate components, but that it is an interior that has been orchestrated.

This may be a “utility” vehicle, but the interior is more Nordstrom’s than Home Depot.

The Durango is setup so that it comes in a variety of flavors, as in a V6 or a V8, rear- or all-wheel-drive, and even differences in the size of standard touchscreens (5 or 8.4 in.). There are the SXT, Rallye, Limited, Citadel, and the R/T. The first is the base, but still fairly well equipped, model. The last is the performance version. (Yeah, it’s got a HEMI.) And yes, the Citadel is truly the high ground among the products on offer. There isn’t anything restrictive about the Limited trim. And across the board, the three-row vehicle comes with an assortment of seating possibilities, as well as having entertainment on offer for those who aren’t in the two front seats.

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One thing common across the lineup—but not common in the Durango’s competitive set—is that it features a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission with dial gear selector on the center console, adjacent to a pair of cupholders.

Not only is the dial gear selector different (it takes up less space that the conventional stalk shifter, which is advantageous, even for something as big as the Durango), but more gears equates to better fuel economy (which is advantageous for something as big as the Durango).

The 2014 model is a freshened version of the third-generation Durango, which was introduced in model year 2011. It is interesting to roll the clock back to 1998, when the vehicle was first introduced. (The second generation ran from 2004 to ’09.) That early Durango compared to the new one is the sort of thing that manifests the idea of “night and day.”

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When the 2011 appeared, it had sheet metal shaped to resemble its Charger showroom mate. For the 2014 model, the lighting that is become familiar from the Dodge muscle cars—the red LED lamps, in this case 192 of them, forming a race-track shape on the back of the vehicles—are deployed. And so as not to leave the front out, they’ve upped the ante with projector lamps and LED daytime running lamps (for some of the upper trim).

Because this is a full-size SUV, there is a pretty good likelihood that people will tow something with it. And the Durango can tow from 6,200 to 7,400 lb., depending on engine and drive type. What’s, again, a sign that there are people really paying attention to the details is how the trailer hitch is integrated into the rear fascia design so that when the vehicle isn’t being used for towing, there isn’t that ball-on-a-fastener sticking up back there.

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The competition where the Durango plays is tough. But thanks to the attention to design and engineering, the vehicle competes quite admirably.

Selected specs

Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC V6

Horsepower: 290 @ 6,400 rpm

Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 4,800rpm

Materials: Aluminum block and heads

Transmission: ZF eight-speed automatic

Steering: Power rack and pinion

Wheelbase: 119.8 in.

Length: 201.2 in.

Width: 75.8 in.

Height (w/roof rail): 70.9 in.

Coefficient of drag: ~0.35

Seating: 2/3/2

SAE Cargo volume: 84.5 cu. ft. (behind front row, seats folded)

Curb weight: 4,987 lb.

EPA: mpg city/highway/combined: 17/24/19 mpg