As Allpar predicted, the 2014 Dodge Durango is getting a late start, but it will be worth it: all buyers will get eight-speed automatic transmissions that boost acceleration and gas mileage, the electronics have been upgraded with new gee-whiz features, and creature comforts have been refined. The Durango will give minivans a run for their money, especially for people who want to tow their classic Challengers or Chrysler boats.
The Dodge Durango is now an eight-speed-only vehicle, using the state-of-the-art ZF HP8 transmission. Instead of using the electronic shifter of the Grand Cherokee, Charger, and 300, though, Durango uses the Ram’s shifter-knob, which makes it easier to change gears by touch. The knob has definite positions for park, reverse, neutral, and drive; shifting up and down is handled by standard paddle controls on the steering wheel
The transmission’s wide gear spread provides stronger gas mileage by allowing high top gear ratios, while enhancing performance with a lower first gear; the large number of gears in between helps to make shifting smoother, and to assure that the engine is always within its optimal range. With the V6 engine, Dodge Durango now has a best-in-class driving range of more than 600 miles — around the distance from New York City to Detroit.
The engine that benefits most from the eight-speed is the award-winning 3.6 liter Pentastar V-6, with 290 horsepower and 260 l-ft of torque; Rallye buyers get an extra five horsepower. Dual cam phasing helps bring an exceptionally flat torque curve, so that over 90% of peak torque is available from 1,900 rpm to 6,400 rpm. This engine is standard for every Durango.
The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine, only available on Limited, R/T, and Citadel, has best-in-class 360 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque, with best-in-class towing capacity of 7,400 pounds (with AWD, 7,200 pounds). Gas mileage has improved by up to 5%.
A new Eco Mode optimizes the throttle, transmission shift schedule, deceleration fuel cutoff, and, in V-8 models, Fuel Saver Technology (which includes shutting off four cylinders when they are not needed). A button on the center stack allows drivers to disengage Eco Mode.
More than 5,500 welds, including 4,100 mm of arc welding, add torsional stiffness to the Dodge Durango’s unibody construction. 52% of the structure is high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel, with more stiffness from closed-section front and rear cross-members.
Durango’s four-wheel independent suspension uses isolated suspension cradles, with optional skid plates. The 2014 Durango has larger sway bars than the 2011-13 models, with 10% stiffer shock and spring rates, and twin-tube shocks supplementing the multi-link rear suspension. The 2014 Durango also has higher cooling capacity than past models, with standard trailer-sway control.
V6-powered Durangos have electro-hydraulic power steering (EHPS), with speed-dependent boost levels. The system delivers fuel savings of up to 3.5% over a pure hydraulic system.
The Durango has two all wheel drive (AWD) systems, one for each engine. The V6 has an MP3010 single speed transfer case for full time all wheel drive, set with a 50/50 torque split. The Hemi-powered AWD Durango has a low-range MP3022 transfer case with a neutral position, for light off-road use, or to aid in moving a boat or trailer; the neutral position allows the Durango to be flat-towed easily. The transfer case has a 2.72:1 low-range ratio, and a variable torque split. 20-inch wheels are optional.
The Dodge Durango’s drag coefficient is approximately 0.35. Interior quietness is further improved by extensive use of acoustic materials, including laminated front-door glass, and by a double wall separating the engine compartment from the cabin.
Optional bi-xenon high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps include auto-leveling to adjust the beam area for slight changes in elevation. Four-inch projector fog lamps are standard equipment on all Durango models.
As predicted, the 2014 Dodge Durango brought Chrysler’s class-exclusive customizable 7-inch digital instrument cluster, 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen with Uconnect Access services, and other sophisticated new features.
The Dodge Durango marks the debut of Uconnect Access Via Mobile, an extension of Chrysler Group’s suite of Uconnect Access services. Its easy-to-learn interface and easy-to-view 8.4-inch touchscreen allow customers to enjoy their personal Internet radio accounts and stream audio content into the new Dodge Durango using their own mobile device data plans. Uconnect Access Via Mobile seamlessly integrates Internet radio apps Aha by Harman, iHeartRadio, Pandora and Slacker Radio. (More info: Uconnect Access Via Mobile)
Dodge Durango has a built-in wireless connection for emergency services; it connects occupants directly with local emergency-service dispatchers with the push of the 9-1-1 button. The “ASSIST” button summons help from Chrysler Group’s roadside assistance provider, the Vehicle Customer Care Center or Uconnect Customer Care Center.
Optional theft alarm notification uses a smartphone app to alert registered customers via SMS or e-mail whenever their vehicles’ security alarms are activated. Additional Uconnect Access security features include the ability to remotely sound the horn and flash the lights, or remote-start and lock and unlock, via the Uconnect Access smartphone app.
There are two new center-stack touchscreens, in 5 inches or 8.4 inches, both handling audio, climate, and phone operation, from navigation to heated seats, with redundant mechanical controls.