For this installment of Styling Showdown, we bring you a vehicle that, according to rumors and reports, wasn't supposed to exist. Over the last year or two, the prevailing wisdom, at least according to the automotive rumor mill, was that the Dodge Durango would be phased out, making room for a revived Jeep Grand Wagoneer. With that supposedly reliable knowledge, we wrote off the Durango as a solid, dynamically engaging, but ultimately short-lived three-row SUV that provided an interesting counterpoint in market generally characterized by anonymous, me-too entries.
But then we got word that a new, 2014 Durango would be shown at the New York auto show. What's this? Dodge's SUV whose obituary we'd already pre-written was going to get a refresh? Our minds were mildly blown at this sudden change of events. We can't say we're quite as floored by the mid-cycle enhancements on it, but to say we're impressed would be an accurate statement.
So what exactly has changed on the 2014 Durango? Enough to make it interesting. The basic shape and configuration remain relatively unchanged, but many of the details have changed, inside and out. Starting with the front end, the 2014 Durango gets a new cross-hair grille design with the solid horizontal and vertical bars making way for bisected bars. This design was hinted at in the 2013 model, with chrome or body-color outer bars and solid black inserts, but the 2014 model takes it to the next level. The grille gets a mild reshaping, and the headlights get LED accent running lights. Around back, the Durango gets full-width wrap-around LED taillights, reminiscent of the design on the Charger sedan.
The interior exhibits a more dramatic change than the exterior, including a new three-spoke wheel design with multifunction controls, paddle shifters, and an optional 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen display. But the biggest change on the inside is the move to a rotary knob shifter as on the 2013 Ram 1500. In the Durango, the knob is mounted on the console, not the dashboard. And unlike those on the Range Rover Evoque and the Jaguar XF and XJ, it does not retract in and out of its housing upon startup -- probably a wise decision in terms of reliability. The new digital instrument cluster offers multiple levels of customization and a high-tech look. The single 9-inch flip-down rear display screen of last year's model is replaced with dual 9-inch seatback-mounted monitors, now with HDMI inputs.
For a vehicle we didn't think would exist for 2014, the new Durango represents a worthwhile, stylish, and high-tech makeover. We think it improves the Durango for the better for as many years as it has left. What are your thoughts? Check out the photos below.