In spite of rumours that it might be dropped, the big Dodge Durango SUV lives on for 2014 with a mid-cycle styling refresh, more high-tech features and a standard eight-speed automatic transmission.
In 2011, the Durango abandoned its body-on-frame Dakota-based roots to become a a longer, 7-passenger variant of the same platform that underpinned the Jeep Grand Cherokee.It retains that core structure for 2014, but gets a new look, front and rear, that is more in keeping with the appearance of its Dart and Challenger family-mates.
While most of its powertrain components carry over, including the base 3.6-litre Pentastar V-6 engine and up-level 5.7-litre Hemi V-8, the new Durango gets a standard eight-speed automatic transmission with both powerplants.
Featuring an unconventional rotary-knob gear selector, as well as steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, it is said to reduce fuel consumption by up to 9%. Dodge says the Durango offers a best-in-class tow rating of up to 3,460 kg (7,400 lb) with the V-8 engine; 2,820 kg (6,200 pounds) with the V-6.
Inside, according to the company, up to 50 different seating configurations are possible, including optional second-row captain’s chairs and 2400 litres of cargo capacity. The instrument panel and centre-stack have been updated with a thin-film transistor (TFT) full-colour instrument cluster and 5-inch or 8.4-inch touchscreens, similar to those in the Dart, and there's an available class-exclusive dual screen Blu-ray/DVD player for rear-seat passengers.
Other available features include a heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated seats, as well as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross path detection, adaptive cruise control with stop function and forward collision warning with collision mitigation.