By Cars.com EditorsMarch 7, 2014
About the video
Cars.com reviewer Kelsey Mays says the updated-for-2014 Dodge Durango strikes a nice balance between drivability and utility. With subtle, if not scant, exterior-styling updates, most of this large three-row crossover's obvious changes are inside.
(hood slams) (soft rock music) (tires screech) Hi, I'm Kelsey Mays for Cars.com, here with the Dodge Durango. An SUV with three rows of seats that's been updated quite a bit for 2014.
We'll take you through what's changed and talk about why the Durango combines drivability and utility pretty darn well. You may not notice a whole lot of differences from the outside on this 2014 Durango. It's sort of a nip and tuck job visually, especially up front. In fact, there are more noticeable changes, especially thanks to this continuous band here of LED lights. About 192 LEDs Dodge says, basically creates a continuous band of light here that draws similarities to the Dodge Charger and the Dodge Dart, both sedans here, similar looking in back to the Durango. Kind of a slick approach, especially when a lot of LED executions today, still look like somebody strung up some Christmas lights on the car. Overall length of the Durango, just over 201 inches, overall width about 76 inches, and that means the Durango's pretty big, even for its class of, kind of, large three row crossovers. Nearly as large as the Chevy Traverse, which kind of tops the group for size. Now, despite all of that, overall the turning circle about 37 feet Dodge says, that's pretty small for the group so fairly maneuverable in tight spaces. Now you got to think with those exterior dimensions, the Durango is going to have a ton of interior room and well it's merely competitive. About 17 cubic feet behind the third row and about 85 cubic feet with both the second and third row folded in terms of maximum cargo room. If you really want to cram an SUV full of stuff, the Traverse still leads the pack, more than 115 cubic feet of maximum volume in that, I don't think anyone's going to catch up with them anytime soon. Plenty of room up front here in our test car and pretty good cabin quality too. Materials are handsome along the dashboard and upper doors. They're pretty consistent, even all the way back to the second row doors. Now a major redesign of the center controls in the Durango here for 2014. It was either a five inch or an 8.4 inch screen at the center and it's much better integrated than before. It employs Chrysler's Uconnect system, which we continually like, because it's very fast to respond. It doesn't have the most features, but it gets things done very quickly, it doesn't incur a lot of lag as you're trying to press on the screens. It's also got, gotta have knobs down here for things like volume and stereo tuning. Both the second and the third row seats sit kind of low to the floor so adults knees might be kind of up here in the air, but leg room actually pretty good, especially in the third row, which typically in a lot of three row crossovers is very tight. Headroom is excellent too. The head restraints fold down here in the third row to clear up visibility all the way out. And they do that with a button that you can press up front from the driver's seat, kind of a nifty feature. Now the seats here, they recline a few degrees, but they don't go forward or backwards. So there's no walk-in feature to get into the third row, which is a little bit more convenient than the way Dodge does it here with these tumblers, which are still one step, and there you go. Drivability, pretty good in the Durango. There's two familiar engines for Dodge, a 3.6 liter V6 or a 5.7 liter Hemi V8. Both pair with the new 8-speed automatic transmission this year. 8-speeds can sometimes be a little bit indecisive because there's so many gears they have to choose from but this one actually functions pretty well, with smooth up shifts and rapid kick down to lower gears when you need to on the highway. There's enough power in the V6, a lot of power in the V8. Maybe not as much as a 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6 in the Ford Explorer, but still plenty of power here in the Durango. There's an eco mode with either engine and it produces a little bit of accelerator lag for the V6, but not so much for the V8. Now, despite our RT test cars, 20 inch wheels and sports suspension, ride quality, pretty good in the Durango, on the highway, it's fairly quiet and fairly stable too. There's impressive capability too depending on what you need. If you need to tow something, the V6 Durango tops out at an impressive 6,200 pounds. EPA combined gas mileage is 19 to 20 miles per gallon, depending on drive line, and that's pretty competitive with this class. Now the V8 ups that to 7,400 pounds of maximum towing capacity but you pay for it at the pump with EPA combined ratings at 16 or 17 miles per gallon. A couple other caveats exist. The 2011 to 2013 Durango had a bit of a checkered reliability history. And this car has yet to be tested in the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety's new small overlap frontal test. Anyone concerned about either area might want to wait a year or so to see how it does. I got to say though, apart from all that, a pretty solid choice in the Dodge Durango in this crowd. (car revs)