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    Review: 2014 Dodge Durango Citadel AWD and Dodge Grand Caravan SXT 30th Anniversary


    • A Tale Of Two Passenger Carriers

    Say you are looking for a vehicle to carry you, your family, and all of their stuff; what do you get? Previously you could get a station wagon or an SUV. But both types of vehicles have fallen out of favor for different reasons and new types of vehicles have mostly taken their place. Those vehicles in question happen to be the crossover and minivan. For most people, the crossover is the more appealing choice instead of a minivan because they don’t want to be seen as a ‘soccer mom’. That doesn’t mean crossovers get away scot-free. Their biggest problem is the ‘can do everything, but not really well’ conundrum.

    So which one should you consider? Well, I happened to have the Dodge Durango Citadel and Grand Caravan SXT 30th Anniversary within a couple weeks of each other. So why not compare the two and figure out which one is better.

    Design:

    Let’s begin with the Grand Caravan first. The overall shape of the a rounded rectangular box hasn’t changed since it was introduced back in 2007. 2011 saw Dodge give the model some tweaks with a new front end treatment, somewhat revised rear, and new wheel choices. Compared to other minivans on the marketplace, the Grand Caravan sits somewhere in the middle.

    2014 Dodge Durango Citadel 9

    Then there is the Durango, which in my books is one the best looking crossovers on sale today. The look is mean and aggressive which such details as the large crosshair grille, race track inspired taillights, and the twenty-inch aluminum wheels that come standard on the Citadel. The Durango has the look that it could beat up on other crossovers.

    Interior:

    The Grand Caravan’s interior does show some of its age by keeping the same dash layout and certain controls from 2007. The plus side is that the layout is very easy to understand where everything is. Materials range from soft-touch on the dash and certain parts of the door panels, to hard plastics in other parts. I believe this is a good mix of materials since the Grand Caravan will likely be carrying kids and you want something to stand up to that.

    Passenger space is very good with all three rows getting a decent amount of head and legroom. Front passengers get power adjustments and heat. Cargo space is a slight disappointment with the third row up as it measures only 33 cubic feet, the smallest space for all minivans. However when you fold the third row down, the Grand Caravan’s cargo space grows to 83.3 cubic feet. The Stow n’ Go seating Dodge introduced in the last generation vans is surprisingly easy to use when putting the seats down. Putting them back up is a little bit more difficult as you have to follow the instructions to a T for them to go back up correctly.

    2014 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT 30th Anniversary 11

    The Durango on the other hand is a really nice place to be in. Dodge gave the interior some tweaks last year to bring it more in line with the rest of their lineup. The dash layout is reminiscent to the Charger and Dart with a simple design and the large 8.4-inch touchscreen smack dab in the middle. Material quality has also seen a noticeable improvement compared to the 2012 Durango. One disappointment I did have is that that Citadel really didn’t feel that luxurious to me. I mean there are such touches as the Nappa leather and the ventilated seats for the front passengers, but I was expecting something more for the price tag.

    Comfort-wise, the Durango features very supportive front seats with power adjustments for both passengers. The second row in my tester featured bucket seats that provided a decent amount of head and legroom. The third row is best to be folded into the floor as it's a bit hard to get back there, and there isn’t enough head and legroom unless you are a small child. Folding the third row also increases the cargo space from 17.2 cubic feet to 47.7 cubic feet.

    Tech:

    Another sign that the Grand Caravan is old is the optional infotainment system. The Grand Caravan still uses the first-generation UConnect system on a smallish 6.5-inch screen. The interface is somewhat clunky looking and isn’t nice to look at. But the first-generation system is very much easy to use and features such as navigation, satellite radio, and more are here. The Grand Caravan also came equipped with an optional BluRay player with a screen for the rear passengers.

    2014 Dodge Durango Citadel 15

    The Durango is bit more modern in this department. It begins with a seven-inch color screen in the instrument cluster that handles the speedometer and trip computer duties. The screen is clear and vibrant, til the sun hits it and the screen becomes a bit washed out. The 8.4-inch touchscreen features the latest version of UConnect that features an integrated 3G connection and an app store. Sadly I didn’t get the chance to try out either feature during the Durango’s week-long stay. What I can say about the latest version of UConnect is the system retains the easy-to-use interface that I have praised before.

    Powertrain:

    One item both vehicles have in common is the engine, which happens to be the 3.6L Pentastar V6. In the Grand Caravan, the V6 makes 283 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The Durango makes do with 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. How the power gets down to the road is a bit different for both vehicles. The Grand Caravan makes do with a six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive, whereas the Durango utilizes an eight-speed automatic and optional all-wheel drive (rear-wheel drive is standard).

    As I have previously written, the 3.6 Pentastar is a wonderful engine as it's really smooth and moves both vehicles with authority when you climb up in the rev range. However, I felt the Grand Caravan was a little bit quicker than the Durango. This comes down to Grand Caravan’s curb weight of 4,510 pounds, versus the 5,097 pounds of the Durango. As for transmissions, both are very smooth and are able to pull the most out of the 3.6. The Durango had the better average fuel economy for the week, with 20.5 MPG. The Caravan only got 19.4 MPG for the week. Thank the extra two gears in the Durango for that.

    2014 Dodge Durango Citadel 11

    Ride and Handling:

    The two models have similar ride and handling characteristics, which is somewhat surprising. On the daily drive, both models provide a very comfortable ride. Bumps and road imperfections are mostly ironed out in both models. As for quietness, the Durango is slightly better than the Grand Caravan when dealing with road noise. Both are equal when it comes to isolating wind noise. As for driving on the back roads, both models are surprisingly fun to drive. The Grand Caravan hunkers down when you decide to push it. Steering is very responsive. Meanwhile, the Durango is surprisingly nimble for its size. When you decide to have a bit of fun, the suspension keeps body roll to a reasonable level. Steering is excellent with good weight and feel.

    Verdict:

    The crossover and minivan have their respective places in the automotive marketplace, with their high and low points. Most people will go towards the crossover, as it offers the look and space of an SUV. But keep in mind that you’ll end up with some of the downsides of many vehicles. Minivans have an image problem. But if you have a lot of people and stuff to move around, then a minivan becomes a perfect option.

    But what about the two vehicles in question, the Durango and Grand Caravan. Well, both vehicles happen to be impressive choices in the respective classes. The Durango is a sharp looker and not a bad crossover to drive around in. The Grand Caravan is excellent a value for what you get and can still give newer vans a run for their money.

    No matter which one you choose, you’ll end up being very happy.

    Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Durango and Grand Caravan, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2014

    Make: Dodge

    Model: Durango

    Trim: Citadel AWD

    Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6

    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive

    Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,400

    Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,800

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/24/19

    Curb Weight: 5,097 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Detroit, Michigan

    Base Price: $43,395

    As Tested Price: $50,570 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    Technology Group - $1,995

    Rear DVD Entertainment Center - $1,995

    Trailer Tow Group IV - $995

    Second-Row Fold/Tumble Captain Chairs - $895

    Second-Row Console w/Armrest and Storage - $300

    Year: 2014

    Make: Dodge

    Model: Grand Caravan

    Trim: SXT 30th Anniversary

    Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6

    Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive

    Horsepower @ RPM: 283 @ 6,400

    Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,400

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/26/21

    Curb Weight: 4,510 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario

    Base Price: $26,795

    As Tested Price: $32,475 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    Dual DVD/Blu-Ray Entertainment - $2,295

    Customer Preferred Package 29P - $1,200

    UConnect 430N CD/DVD/MP3/HDD/NAV - $795

    Security Group - $395

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    Nice write up, I love the current Durango and that they went back to mid size like the first generation. This CUV is a perfect auto for most people.

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    The Durango is a VERY well done and polished piece, taking the "guts" success of the Grand Cherokee to a bigger package, more useful for those needing 3 rows and not that much off road equipment.

     

    It just took 1st place in a Motor Trend comparo of Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, Mazda, etc. 3 row utes too:

     

    http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/suvs/1408_the_big_test_2014_three_row_crossovers/

     

    As long as the reliability stays up, and they can work on resale, they may be getting somewhere. Durango still needs marketed more...reviewers love it, but still not everyone in the 3 row crossover/SUV class recognizes it as a choice since years back.

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    Our company vehicle is a dodge journey which I have put probably 4 or 5 thousand miles on myself. There have been times I pulled 28 mpg with it and the pentastar is great. First and second row room is not much different from this pair. It drives alright and is much cheaper than the Durango. I'd recommend to anyone looking at this pair to look at the Journey too. I still would buy one because it's a Chrysler but I would recommend it to others. I would also recommend the minvans because they are good and a great value. I have nothing I like about the Durango. It makes no sense to me.

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    Over $50k for a Durango seems like a lot, I'd think an Explorer or Lambda (though dated now) is a better value.  $30k for the van with the same engine and basically same people carrying ability seems like the deal, but people don't like vans.  Personally I don't see much difference between a van and a crossover, it is still a tall box on wheels and doesn't handle like a car.

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    Over $50k for a Durango seems like a lot, I'd think an Explorer or Lambda (though dated now) is a better value.  $30k for the van with the same engine and basically same people carrying ability seems like the deal, but people don't like vans.  Personally I don't see much difference between a van and a crossover, it is still a tall box on wheels and doesn't handle like a car.

     

    The refinement and driving dynamics are very different, as is the feel. The Durango is a different ballgame compared with the big & soft Lambda's and the 3.6L/6-speed that can feel lazy, and the Explorer that's all over the place, with a not overly comfortable interior. Small seats, big space, awkward feel. It's strange to say but back to back, the Durango is the premium feeling and performing offering. When the big reviewers say so...that's saying something. The only downfall of that is, like the 1st SRX, it doesn't mean buying public always notices if they don't know to test drive.

     

    I was looking at a few out of curiosity, and a "Citadel" or other high end AWD model loaded up is still not far from $40k. The 3.6L/8-speed is a great combo, I was very impressed by it on a test drive in a new Jeep GC and another friend's new 2014 GC.

     

    The Journey and Caravan, as in GM speak, are "old Chrysler" rehabs. Not that they are all bad, but they are not the same level of vehicles.

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    Over $50k for a Durango seems like a lot, I'd think an Explorer or Lambda (though dated now) is a better value.  $30k for the van with the same engine and basically same people carrying ability seems like the deal, but people don't like vans.  Personally I don't see much difference between a van and a crossover, it is still a tall box on wheels and doesn't handle like a car.

     

    No way on the Explorer over the Durango... just not even a contest.  The Lambdas aren't really that dated and they are the cargo kings of the segment... but they are more soft-roaders than the Durango.   The Durango you could take on a rutted country trail... the Enclave not so much.

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    Over $50k for a Durango seems like a lot, I'd think an Explorer or Lambda (though dated now) is a better value.  $30k for the van with the same engine and basically same people carrying ability seems like the deal, but people don't like vans.  Personally I don't see much difference between a van and a crossover, it is still a tall box on wheels and doesn't handle like a car.

    My Trailblazer SS AWD I would put up against anything the germans put out. My SUV it tight, handles amazing and blows most sports cars away. American LS V8 power with Driving Dynamics that eats up a curvy road! :metal:

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    Why buy a Durango over any other American midsize SUV/CUV?

     

    Hemi.  :wub:  Also has the most usable 3rd row between it, the Explorer (not even close), and the Lambdas (by a slim margin IMO).

     

    Funny how the Durango is called a CUV by a lot of people, even though it shares bones with the Grand Cherokee, which has never been a crossover...

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    Why buy a Durango over any other American midsize SUV/CUV?

     

    Hemi.   :wub:  Also has the most usable 3rd row between it, the Explorer (not even close), and the Lambdas (by a slim margin IMO).

     

    Funny how the Durango is called a CUV by a lot of people, even though it shares bones with the Grand Cherokee, which has never been a crossover...

    Grand Cherokee is a CUV also now. Once they dropped the body on frame, they left the SUV and went to CUV with the Auto Unibody. I consider both the Grand Cherokee and Durango to be CUV's.

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    Grand Cherokee is a CUV also now. Once they dropped the body on frame, they left the SUV and went to CUV with the Auto Unibody. I consider both the Grand Cherokee and Durango to be CUV's.

     

    Grand Cherokee has always been unibody.

     

    Now, unless we're going to retroactively add to the generally accepted crossover meaning of "an SUV built on a car platform with less SUV capability...."

    Edited by Lamar
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    Why buy a Durango over any other American midsize SUV/CUV?

     

    Hemi.   :wub:  Also has the most usable 3rd row between it, the Explorer (not even close), and the Lambdas (by a slim margin IMO).

     

    Funny how the Durango is called a CUV by a lot of people, even though it shares bones with the Grand Cherokee, which has never been a crossover...

    Grand Cherokee is a CUV also now. Once they dropped the body on frame, they left the SUV and went to CUV with the Auto Unibody. I consider both the Grand Cherokee and Durango to be CUV's.

     

     

    Grand Cherokee has always been unibody.

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    Grand Cherokee is a CUV also now. Once they dropped the body on frame, they left the SUV and went to CUV with the Auto Unibody. I consider both the Grand Cherokee and Durango to be CUV's.

     

    Grand Cherokee has always been unibody.

     

    Now, unless we're going to retroactively add to the generally accepted crossover meaning of "an SUV built on a car platform with less SUV capability...."

     

    Showing my age as Jeep used to make true SUV's that were Body on Frame. With the Grand Cherokee, it became from the very first generation a CUV.

     

    I think the only SUV Jeep makes is the Wrangler now.

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    Grand Cherokee is a CUV also now. Once they dropped the body on frame, they left the SUV and went to CUV with the Auto Unibody. I consider both the Grand Cherokee and Durango to be CUV's.

     

    Grand Cherokee has always been unibody.

     

    Now, unless we're going to retroactively add to the generally accepted crossover meaning of "an SUV built on a car platform with less SUV capability...."

     

    Showing my age as Jeep used to make true SUV's that were Body on Frame. With the Grand Cherokee, it became from the very first generation a CUV.

     

    I think the only SUV Jeep makes is the Wrangler now.

     

     

     

    Not really.  The term Crossover, when it came about, generally meant a SUV that was built on a platform originally meant for a car.  So, vehicles like the CR-V (Civic related), RAV-4 (Corolla related), Aztek (Chevy Lumina APV/ Venture related), and Lexus RX (Toyota Camry related).    The Grand Cherokee, from the start, was only ever built on its own platform.   Yet tiny SUVs like the Geo Tracker and the very first Kia Sportage were true small SUVs and not crossovers because they were body on frame and not based on a car. (The Sportage was very distantly related to a commercial Mazda van chassis).

     

    But just being Unibody doesn't mean the GC is a crossover.   The Range Rover has been Unibody since 2002 and no one would consider that "not an SUV"

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    Now, on the other hand, if we want to hold that "unibody = CUV," I move that we call the last B-bodies and Panthers "trucks."  For the sake of consistency.

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    I have never considered Land Rover a true SUV since they left Body on Frame. I also never see them off road around here or even on the mountain passes at ski resorts. They seem to be stuck in Seattle and the suburbs and along the highway as I always see them broken down. So Landrover is CUV's to me also.

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    So a tall wagonlike vehicle more capable off-road -- the exact antithesis of the definition of a crossover -- than any Suburban you've driven... is a crossover?

     

    Heh.  Wow.

     

    tumblr_lwru33NE821r803nno1_500.jpg

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    I have never considered Land Rover a true SUV since they left Body on Frame. I also never see them off road around here or even on the mountain passes at ski resorts. They seem to be stuck in Seattle and the suburbs and along the highway as I always see them broken down. So Landrover is CUV's to me also.

     

    Aside from the fact that most ride on Dubs these days, Range Rovers (not Land Rover, that's the entire brand) are still one of the most capable off-roaders one can buy that side of a Wrangler. Pretty much your only other choice that would equal the Range Rover off-road is a loaded Grand Cherokee with the height adjustable suspension.

     

    That means, yes, the uni-body Range Rover and Jeep GC are more capable off-road than a Trailblazer, Tahoe, or Suburban.

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    So a tall wagonlike vehicle more capable off-road -- the exact antithesis of the definition of a crossover -- than any Suburban you've driven... is a crossover?

     

    Heh.  Wow.

     

    tumblr_lwru33NE821r803nno1_500.jpg

    I see at the landrover dealership by my house they take people on their fake rock, wood and cement bump trail but that is the extent of ever seeing Land Rover any place other than in the city. You do not find them in the PNW 4x4 club that is for sure, but I see plenty of Tahoes, Suburbans, Especially Wranglers, trailblazers, Cherokees First generation. If it is body on frame, you find it on the mountain ski pass and off road clubs.

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    That's because no one goes off-roading with a vehicle that bases at $84,000.

    Range Rovers are at ski-resorts all the time...but perhaps you aren't allowed through the gates of those. :-P

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    Basically, just because a vehicle isn't used for the purpose it was built doesn't mean it's incapable of performing that task (re: Land Rover).

     

    RE: the Durango -- its Jeep bones allow it to still be more than competent off road, according to reviews.

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    That's because no one goes off-roading with a vehicle that bases at $84,000.

    Range Rovers are at ski-resorts all the time...but perhaps you aren't allowed through the gates of those. :-P

    :rofl:

     

    You crack me up, I see plenty of BMW, MB, Acura, Infinity, Lexus and Cadillac CUV/SUV's. Maybe the ski resorts just deny Land Rover access. :P

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