Competes with: Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot
Looks like: New exterior styling cues tie it more closely with the Dart and Charger
Drivetrain: Carryover 290-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 or a 360-hp, 5.7-liter V-8; new eight-speed automatic
Hits dealerships: Late 2013
Dodge's three-row crossover gets some appealing updates for the 2014 model year. Highlights include more muscular exterior styling, a new eight-speed automatic transmission and an upgraded Uconnect multimedia system with 8.4-inch touch-screen.
For 2014, Dodge is putting emphasis on family resemblance; the Durango borrows the Charger's and Dart's LED light-bar taillamp setup. Up front, it gets an updated grille, raised front bumper and new projector-beam headlights with available LED daytime running lights. A more sculpted hood and pronounced fenders give it a muscular look, channeling the Challenger's curves.
The other big news is the crossover's new eight-speed automatic transmission; Chrysler says it's a segment-first. The eight-speed is standard across the lineup and replaces last year's five-speed. The new unit has paddle shifters and the traditional shifter is replaced by a rotary knob, which is similar to the setup in the 2013 Ram 1500.
Powertrains carryover for 2014: The 290-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 and 360-hp, 5.7-liter V-8 are again available. A standard capless fuel filler is new this year. Chrysler says the 2014 Durango will be "up to 9%" more efficient than the outgoing model thanks to the new transmission and new Eco mode; the latter alters throttle response and the transmission's shift points to maximize fuel efficiency. For 2013, two-wheel-drive versions of the V-6 are EPA rated at 16/23 mpg city/highway and V-8 versions at 14/20 mpg.
For 2014, the Durango will be available in five trim levels: SXT, Rallye, the new-for-2014 Limited, R/T and Citadel. Inside, the crossover uses the latest version of the Uconnect multimedia system with either a 5-inch or 8.4-inch touch-screen, depending on trim. The available Uconnect Access system provides navigation with 3-D mapping, Wi-Fi capability, hands-free texting and Bluetooth streaming audio with mobile apps like Pandora and iHeartRadio.
Also new is the instrument cluster; it's now a 7-inch thin-film transistor screen that's similar to what's in the Dart. Dodge says there are more than 100 ways drivers can customize it. More new equipment includes an available dual-screen Blu-ray- and DVD-compatible rear entertainment system. The 9-inch screens are mounted in the driver and front-passenger seatbacks.
The 2014 Dodge Durango will be manufactured at Chrysler's Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit and go on sale at the end of this year.