This could be a critical week for the Dodge Durango, the three-row sport-ute making its debut at the New York International Auto Show this week.
Though based on the same platform as the wildly popular Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Durango has been the forgotten ute among parent Chrysler’s extensive line-up of SUVs and CUVs, so the 2014 redesign could determine whether the Dodge Durango has much of a future.
Like the newly updated Grand Cherokee, the Dodge offering gets a number of important updates for 2014, and though it’s not as extensive as the major transformation it went through in 2014, Dodge brand President Reid Bigland insists it is nonetheless, “fundamentally an all-new vehicle.”
The challenge has been trying to find a position in the market for what Dodge has even tried calling “a man van,” in its efforts to target young families with something that’s got more visual appeal than the maker’s Grand Caravan minivan.
The 2014 Dodge Durango gets a bolder front end that centers around the brand’s floating crosshair grille, with new fascia, projector headlamps and L-shaped LED running lights. At the other end, the 2014 SUV adopts the distinctive “racetrack” LED taillamp design first seen on the Dodge Dart and Charger models.
Chrysler’s cabins have improved significantly since emerging from Chapter 11 back in 2009, and the 2010 Durango update was already a big improvement. The ’14 interior update is more modest, though that includes a new instrument panel and center stack that includes a new gauge cluster with a 7-inch LCD screen. Higher-end versions of the 2014 Dodge Durango get an 8.4-inch touchscreen for infotainment duties that include the corporate Uconnect system.
The Durango also becomes one of a small but growing wave of vehicles that can be equipped with an onboard 4G WiFi hotspot. That can keep the kids in the back busy accessing online games, or letting adult passengers check stocks or weather. But there’s also a new rear-seat dual-screen Blu-Ray entertainment system.
There’s a new knob on the center console that signals another key change for 2014, the rotary shifter operating the new ZF 8-speed gearbox. It can be paired with either of two engines, a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 that pushes out 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, or a 360-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 that also makes 390 lb-ft.
The bigger engine can handle up to 7,400-lb trailers, the V-6 about 6,200. The trailer hitch, incidentally, is now integrated into the rear bumper fascia. Meanwhile, Hemi models also get a Low-Range two-speed transfer case for the occasional off-road adventure.
Meanwhile, Dodge has introduced a new “Eco” mode designed to enhance fuel economy by reducing throttle sensitivity, revising shift patterns and increasing the frequency of cylinder deactivation – in which half the engine’s cylinders are shut off when power demands are low.
The new 2014 Dodge Durango does not, however, get the increasingly popular stop/start technology showing up on many new models – and designed to briefly shut off an engine rather than idling. For 2014, the Durango won’t get the diesel engine added to the option list for the sibling Jeep Grand Cherokee, but that could become a later addition if the revised Dodge model finally gains some critical traction.
Look for prices to range from just under $30,000 to above $42,000 for a fully loaded Durango when production starts later this year.
Tags: 2013 ny auto show, 2013 nyias, 2014 dodge durango, 3-row crossover, 3-row suv, auto news, car news, dodge durango, dodge news, dodge ny, dodge ny auto show, grand cherokee, man van, paul a. eisenstein, paul eisenstein, thedetroitbureau