2014 Dodge Durango Review

Oct. 21, 2013 By Josh Burns, Photos by Josh Burns and Courtesy of Dodge

Ron Burgundy is correct, and he doesnít need a teleprompter to tell him so. The new Durango does have 360 more horsepower than a horse. But jokes aside (the human torch was denied a bank loan?), the Durangoís boastful horsepower figures, thanks to its 5.7-liter V8 HEMI, are only part of the story. Dodge sees its Durango as one of the only true sporty SUVs, but its versatile three-row seating and fuel efficiency, thanks to its new eight-speed transmission, may be its biggest selling points. 

When Dodge first introduced its Durango in 1998, it was the first mid-sized 7-person SUV available. Now, nearly 15 years later, the company is redefining the unique vehicle again with a redesigned SUV offering performance and versatility Ė and, of course, economy. The new eight-speed transmission is a huge part of the fuel-economy savings for the new Duragno. It will come standard on all 2014 Durango models, and when paired with the 3.6-liter Pentastar engine it will improve fuel economy as much as 15 percent. The fully electronics tran features on-the-fly shift map changing, with the ability to manually shift gears via the steering-wheel paddle controls. 

There will be two engine options for the 2014 Dodge Durango, with the aforementioned 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 providing 290 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, with a 18 city/25 highway rating (17/24 on the all-wheel drive model). The Rallye and Citadel versions do get upgraded 295-horsepower V6 engines. The other option is a 5.7-liter HEMI that produces 360 hp and 390 lb.-ft. of torque. It provides an EPA fuel economy rating of 14 mpg city/23 highway (all-wheel drive ratings are 14/22).

To aid in improved fuel economy, the 2014 Durango will feature Eco Mode, which is designed to optimize the shift schedule of the eight-speed transmission as well as control Fuel Saver Technology with cylinder deactivation in V8 models to improve fuel economy in a variety of different driving conditions. Eco Mode also manages deceleration fuel shut-off, which will eliminate fuel delivery when a vehicle is coasting to improve fuel economy. Eco Mode will automatically run when the vehicle is started, but Dodge says it can be shut off on the center stack for ďmore spirited performance.Ē

The sporty Durango might not an ideal off-road vehicle for the trails; instead, this SUV would serve as a tow vehicle to get the family, and all of its toys, out to the trails. When equipped with the new fully integrated tow hitch on the 2014 Durangos, models equipped with the V6 motor will be able to tow up to 6,200 pounds (best in class for a V6). For those looking for a little more towing capability, HEMI-equipped Durangos can tow a best-in-class 7,400 pounds. 

The Durango is still at heart an SUV, and therefore it must offer versatility for hauling around the family. Fortunately, the three-row Durango features a number of layout options inside depending upon a familyís needs. Standard seven-passenger seating on the Durango means everyone can come along for the ride, while the optional second-row captainís chairs provide comfortable seating for passengers in the bucket seats. The captainís chairs also allow for easy walk-through for third-row passengers to go between the seats to get in the back. The second-row seating can also be pushed forward for loading cargo, while the fold-flat passenger seat (standard on all models without ventilated seats) allows for even more cargo space inside.

Technology is certainly a key selling point for the new Durango.  A redesigned center stack offers either a 5-inch or 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen, controlling everything from navigation and radio settings, to climate control or phone applications when paired with your mobile phone. Below the screens are button controls for the audio and climates functions, while just below the center stack is a new media hub with an auxiliary jack for phone/iPod connections, a USB connection and an SD card slot. There is also the option for rear headrest video screens for the backseat.

For the driver, a full-color 7-inch thin-film-transistor (TFT) screen (similar to the one found on the Dart) provides vehicle information such as a speedometer, fuel gauge, engine temp and more. The screen is fully customizable, with more than 100 different options for how information is presented.

We pulled about a 7,400-pound boat/trailer load with our HEMI-equipped Durango.

Ride Impressions
Thereís no doubt the Durango will appeal to the man or woman who wants something a little sexier than a standard SUV. The Durango offers powertrains and options to make the Durango a cool-looking family wagon. For the off-road family the vehicle still needs to have function, and we can say the Durango fits the bill as a weekender or day trip rig. Itíll fit the family have the ability tow the toys. We had a chance to put spend some time with the Durango on the road as well as with trailers to see how they faired.

We made our way through some hilly roads outside of Los Angeles and down the Southern California coastline. The HEMI Durango certainly provides a little more firepower with the stomp of the accelerator, but the V6 also feels playful without a loaded vehicle (we imagine the playfulness to reduce a bit with a full load of passengers). Both powerplants feel great with the eight-speed transmission, though, as there was no point that the vehicle was hunting for one of the gears. For a seven-person SUV, the Durango doesnít feel awkward or hefty in turns; instead, the Durango handles curves with a smooth, effortless driving style we found fun to drive.

When it came to tow, Dodge was prepared for us. First off was a loop around Los Angeles in a HEMI-equipped RWD Durango towing a 28-foot boat. Fortunately for us, there were only a few tight intersections to contend with. According to Dodge, the boat weighed in at roughly 6,300 pounds and the trailer an additional 1,100, so that put us right at the 7,400-pound tow limit for the Durango. We certainly had no trouble hauling the load, as the HEMI was up to the challenge and didnít falter on takeoffs, accelerating once up to speed on the road, and it never felt like it was getting yanked around on turns or corners. Sometimes the trailer can overpower the vehicle, but the Durango felt like it was in control the entire time.  The vented disc brakes also did a fine job of stopping us.

We pulled a 3,600-pound Airstream trailer with our V6-equipped Durango.

We also had the chance to get behind the wheel of a V6-equipped RWD Durango to tow an airstream trailer. The trailer, weighing in at about 3,600 pounds (well short of the 6,400-pound tow limit of the vehicle), was no problem for our vehicle. Sure, the V6 didnít quite as much low-end grunt as the V8 HEMI, but it also didnít feel overpowered in any way. It showed no sign of struggle with the Airstream trailer and pulled confidently at all times.

The interior of the front cabin is esthetically pleasing and comfortable for driver and passenger. The rear captainís seats are a nice option for the second row, especially if another set of adults will be in those seats (or full-sized teenagers). The newly designed instrument panel is easy to see and read, and the center stack design also is well laid out and easy to use on the fly. We really appreciated the paddled shifters on the steering wheel, which can be used at any time to shift between the eight gears of the trans. If the driver decides to exit using the paddle shifters, simply holding the right paddle will return it to drive. To start in the lowest gear, the driver simply holds in the left paddle shifter.

The Dodge Durango is exactly what it intends to be Ė a cool version of an SUV. Itís sporty, provides plenty of space for passengers and the versatility for hauling loads, and offers an interior design layout that feels much more playful than a boring family wagon. Dodge is confident it has a great vehicle in the Durango, and if it were to take on Mr. Burgundyís ego for just a moment, although it isnít equipped with many leather-bound books nor does it smell of rich mahogany, it would confidently say itís sort of a big deal.

Engine Specifications
Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC V6
Availability: Standard on SXT, Rallye, Limited and Citadel Ė RWD and AWD (not available on R/T model)
Type: 60-degree V-type, liquid-cooled
Displacement: 220 cu. in.
Bore x Stroke: 3.78 x 3.27
Valve System: Chain-drive DOHC, 24 valves and hydraulic end-pivot roller rockers
Fuel Injection: Sequential, multiport, electronic, returnless
Construction: Aluminum deep-skirt block, aluminum alloy heads
Compression Ratio: 10.2:1
Power: 290 hp @ 6,400 rpm, 295 hp (Rallye)
Torque: 260 lb.-ft. @ 4,800 rpm
Max. Engine Speed: 6,400 rpm
Fuel Requirement: 87-octane
Oil Capacity: 6.0 qt.
Coolant Capacity: 14.0 qt.
Emissions Controls: Dual three-way catalytic converters, heated oxygen sensors and internal engine features
EPA Fuel Economy: RWD 18/25/20, AWD 17/24/19
Assembly Plant: Trenton South Engine Plant, Trenton, Mich.

Engine: 5.7-liter V8
Availability: Standard on R/T and optional on Limited and Citadel (RWD and AWD)
Type: 90-degree V-type, liquid-cooled
Displacement: 345 cu. in.
Bore x Stroke: 3.92 x 3.58
Valve System: Variable-valve timing, pushrod-operated overhead valves, 16 valves, eight deactivating and eight conventional hydraulic lifters, all with roller followers
Fuel Injection: Sequential, multi-port, electronic, returnless
Construction: Deep-skirt cast-iron block with cross-bolted main bearing caps, aluminum alloy heads with hemispherical combustion chambers
Compression Ratio: 10.5:1
Power: 360 hp @ 5,150 rpm
Torque: 390 lb.-ft.
Max. Engine Speed: 5,800 rpm
Fuel Requirement: 87-octane acceptable, 89-octane recommended
Oil Capacity: 7 qt.
Coolant Capacity: 14.5 qt.
Emissions Controls: Dual close-coupled 3-way catalytic converters, quad heated oxygen sensors and internal engine features
EPA Fuel Economy: RWD 14/23/17, AWD 14/22/16
Assembly Plant: Saltillo Engine, Saltillo, Mexico

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