2014 Dodge Durango: Dodge's big SUV impresses with power & refinement

(WXYZ) - The Dodge Durango is Anchorman Ron Burgundy's SUV.

Yes the glove box has point-1 feet of storage and is big enough to fit 70 packs of gun, but unlike the dim-witted Burgundy, Durango has many layers and is deep and defined.

The Durango is Dodge's biggest SUV and sits atop the Journey for size, but falls below larger SUVs like the Ford Expedition and Chevy Tahoe.  The Durango was revealed in 1998. I consider it the Goldilocks of the SUVs. This one is not too small and not too big. It's just right.

The 2014 version offers a more aggressive grille surrounded by a bold new exterior. Inside the cabin is large and luxurious.  The drive is responsive and despite its size, handles like a sedan. 

Dodge provided me with 2014 Durango Citadel for review and I found the SUV to be perfect for large families as it seats up to seven, but not so big it feels like you are driving a bus.

During my drive of the Durango I found things I LOVE, LIKE and DISLIKE about the model. Here's a list.

LOVE: EXTERIOR. The Durango has seen many changes from its introduction in 1998, but I think the 2014 is the best looking yet. The 2014 model offers a refreshed exterior and keeps its rugged look that many SUVs abandoned long ago.  The revised grille is the crown jewel of the updated front-end and the wheels (I like the 20") are all new, and stunning.  In a sea of SUVs, it's the one that looks like a Great White. And drives like one too.

LOVE: EIGHT-SPEED TRANSMISSION. It's standard in the 2014 Durango. This SUV drives like butter. Smooth.   

LOVE: INTERIOR SPACE: The Durango impresses with a large cabin. The rotary shift knob is revolutionary and adds a level of refinement to the blue-collar Durango giving additional space just right of the driver's seat. It seems like a console shifter is a small thing, but subtract it and you free up a lot of space.  Love the second row heated seats. Drop the last row of seats and you get 84.5 cubic feet of room. Enough space for my mountain bike and all its gear.  UBS access within a hands reach instead of the in the console   

LIKE: REAR LIGHT SIGNATURE. Dodge has really stepped up the game of illumination. I have admired the rear lights on the Durango since following one home on a foggy night. The lights shine brighter than most and deliver a crisp, bold signature that is undeniably Dodge.  The company claims there are 192 individual LEDs in each tail lamp.  

LIKE: INTERIOR CONTROLS. When I'm driving, I like things simple. Complicated takes my eyes off the road. From Durango's steering wheel you can do most everything you need and it's set up simply. Like Goldilocks, not too much or too little. It's just right.

LIKE: BACKUP CAMERA. Maybe it's the 8.4 inch touchscreen, but it seems to have a wider and longer shot than most rear-views.   

LIKE: MPGs. Dodge expects the 2014 Durango to get better than 10-percent improvement on MPGs with the pairing of the eight-speed tranny and PentaStar V-6. The SUV is estimated to get 18city/25 highway. Impressive with an engine that pumps out 290 horses.

DISLIKE: Cargo. With a bigger SUV comes bigger cargo, right. The Durango is roomy, but behind the third row, there's just 17.2 cubic inches of space. Sure, drop the third row and you get 47.7 cubic feet but compared to competing sized SUVs it's less than a Chevrolet Traverse. To get adequate cargo space you must drop the second row too. That will get you 84.5 cubic feet.    

DISLIKE: ECO MODE: Don't get me wrong, I like to save fuel and money, but the ECO mode really robs the Durango of its performance.  The feature is only offered with the 5.7L HEMI V-8 and affects the throttle sensitivity, which I hate.  I'm waiting for Dodge to offer the impressive and powerful EcoDiesel V-6 in the Durango that is currently in the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee. That's a fuel-saver I could get behind.

The Dodge Durango starts at base price of $ 29,795 for an SXT and goes to a base price of $40,995 for a Citadel. 

For more on the Dodge Durango, click here

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