Archive for the ‘2014’ Tag

Top 9 Most Fuel-Efficient Trucks for 2014

2014 truck of the year2 copy

For the past several years, the best-selling vehicle in the nation has been a pickup. It’s not difficult to understand why Americans love trucks. Pickups offer the kind of unassailable utility that makes them a natural fit for anyone who frequently hauls outsize cargo.

Certain trucks offer another benefit: outstanding fuel efficiency. The nine models shown offer the best gas mileage in the segment. Our list is shorter than the usual 10 due to a shrinking talent pool. GM’s hybrid trucks made appearances on last year’s list, but for 2014, GM has dropped these hybrids from its lineup.

Our list this year includes fuel-efficient gas-only models like the Nissan Frontier, Ram 1500 and Toyota Tacoma. Note that each model is allowed just one appearance on our list, for its most fuel-efficient powertrain.

Each vehicle’s ranking is determined by its Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) combined fuel economy rating. The EPA’s combined fuel economy rating is based on miles-per-gallon ratings for city and highway travel, using the following formula: 55 percent of city mpg rating plus 45 percent of highway mpg rating.

1. Toyota Tacoma — 23 mpg combined (21 city/25 highway) (tie)

1. Ram 1500 — 23 mpg combined (20 city/28 highway) (tie)

2. Nissan Frontier — 21 mpg combined (19 city/23 highway)

3. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 — 20 mpg combined (18 city/24 highway) (tie)

3. GMC Sierra 1500 — 20 mpg combined (18 city/24 highway) (tie)

4. Ford F-150 — 19 mpg combined (17 city/23 highway)

5. Honda Ridgeline — 17 mpg combined (15 city/21 highway) (tie)

5. Toyota Tundra — 17 mpg combined (16 city/20 highway) (tie)

6. Nissan Titan — 15 mpg combined (13 city/18 highway)

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Ram ProMaster named Best Fleet Value

Vincentric has named the Ram ProMaster Diesel 1500 standard roof van with the 118-inch wheelbase its “Best Fleet Value” in the Full-Size 1/2-Ton Cargo Van category.

“Starting off its first model year with a bang, the Ram ProMaster 1500 wins its first Vincentric Best Fleet Value in America award in the full-size ½-ton cargo van segment. The ProMaster used low fuel and maintenance costs as the key components of its success, while unseating the Chevrolet Express Cargo G1500, which also performed well as the 2014 runner-up.”

Vincentric, LLC, which celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2014, provides insight to the automotive industry. Based in Bingham Farm, Michigan, the company uses a proprietary cost-of-ownership database to measure and analyze the overall cost of owning and operating vehicles and its impact on the value provided to buyers.

In addition to the ProMaster, the Dodge Grand Caravan was named Best Fleet Value in the Minivan category for the third year in a row; the Dodge Journey pulled off its own three-peat in the Mid-Size Crossover as did the Jeep Patriot 2WD in the Entry-Level Crossover segment.

Late last month, the Jeep Wrangler won Vincentric’s “Best Value in America” award in the Compact SUV category for the third consecutive year and Ram 3500 brought home its second consecutive “Best Value in America” award in the one-ton pickup competition.

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2014 Ram ProMaster Quick Test / Review

Allpar recently spent a day getting to know the new Ram ProMaster, the Fiat Ducato-based commercial van reconfigured for the American market and the first true business van to wear the Ram badge.

The ProMaster is the second Eurovan to hit American shores. The Mercedes-Benz/Freightliner Sprinter was the first, and while it isn’t exactly a barn-burner with about 8% of the full-size van market, the game is changing as Ford gets set to replace its venerable E-Series van with the European Transit next year. The E-series and Club Wagon have been the best-selling vans since 1980 and account for nearly half the sales in the segment, so this is a major move. The timing could be just right for the ProMaster.

Commercial vans are boxes. Their purpose is maximum payload room, with enough left over for necessities like an engine and driver. In this, the ProMaster offers far more capacity than the traditional American vans: up to 530 cubic feet of cargo space, compared to 319 cubic feet in the E350 Extended Wheelbase with the front passenger seat removed. The ProMaster with the high roof is a true walk-in van that allows the operator to stand in the cargo area, reducing fatigue.

One of the key features of the ProMaster is the best-in-class, 36-foot turning radius. This advantage became apparent as I drove the ProMaster 2500 on the twisty roads in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains near Thousand Oaks, California. There was no problem keeping the big van in the lane. The ProMaster also was easy to maneuver and park in a standard shopping center lot, another plus for a van that will likely see a lot of such use as a parcel delivery or tradesman vehicle.

The Pentastar V6 provided plenty of power for in-city stop-and-go driving and merging with freeway traffic. No one is going to win any quarter-mile challenges in a ProMaster, but that’s not the point of a commercial van.

The rearview camera is almost a must-have option. Even experienced van operators will appreciate the outstanding view of all the stuff that is normally hidden, unless one invests a lot in extra mirrors (even then, the view is not as good as the one provided by the camera).

Driver accommodations in commercial vans tend to be fairly Spartan; the ProMaster cabin is a nice upgrade. It’s not plush but the seating is comfortable and the A/C does a pretty good job of keeping at least the front of the van comfortable. The controls are easily within reach and the lack of a drivetrain hump makes access to the cargo area much easier. I drove vans for few years back in the day and the ProMaster has it all over those Fords and Chevys.

My one complaint was the information display in the instrument cluster: without a manual or pre-flight orientation, it was impossible to figure out how to change it to provide the desired data, in this case the miles-per-gallon. I did master increasing and decreasing the display brightness, but that was it.

I tried two different ProMasters: first, a quick spin in a basic low-roof 1500, then an extended wheelbase, high-roof 2500 for a trip from Thousand Oaks to nearby Westlake Hills to pick up a load. Both vans handled well, even on dirt roads. Since any unladen van is light in the rear and the front-wheel-drive ProMasters don’t even have the weight of a differential I were expecting them to be skittish on unpaved surfaces. Both vans impressed me with their sure-footed handling: no bouncing; no feeling the rear end was going to break loose at any minute.

I had the luxury of a solo ride in the 2500, which was great. The van handled well on both well-maintained city streets and country roads that might not have seen serious upkeep since Ronald Reagan was the governor. Even after picking up my “load” in Westlake Hills, the ProMaster had no trouble with climbing narrow mountain roads.

ProMaster operating costs should be lower than a conventional American van, and there are already slide-in vocational fittings to suit a variety of purposes, from package shelves to workbenches and cabinetry for locksmiths, plumbers and other jobs.

When the ProMaster was first announced, there was a lot of speculation about how the controversial front end might be changed to make it more in tune with American tastes. However, I was fairly certain that any changes would be made in the grille and other soft fittings. The look is something to which we will have to become accustomed. Fortunately, with the latest iteration of the Sprinter and the upcoming Transit, we will have plenty of opportunity to learn to like the ProMaster.

For another perspective, I went to our highly-regarded local Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram dealership, CPDJ of Teterboro, next to Teterboro Airport in Little Ferry, New Jersey. They gave me the keys to a brand new ProMaster which hadn’t even been through dealer-prep yet; it was exactly as they got it from the factory, with the doors sealed shut by little stickers, protective plastic on the seats, and all.

There were numerous standard convenience features which I imagine make life easier for drivers, as well as a very handy over-windshield shelf (more on this later). An integrated clipboard atop the dashboard was almost big enough for a full sheet of paper; there were numerous cupholders in various locations; and an “overspeed” alert along with a gas mileage indicator.

The gauge cluster is simple but attractive; the gauges are clearly and plainly marked, and while the speedometer’s 120 mph maximum is surely unnecessary, it was not hard to figure out exactly what our speed was at any point. The rpm gauge went no further than necessary, and gas and heat gauges were both reasonably sized. A warning light went on when the gas fell too low.

The Chrysler people told us that they had spent a lot of time, effort, and money to make sure the interior would be friendly and not full of vague symbols, and it paid off. There were four cupholders (maybe more), and a gearshift that felt better than the ones in our minivan or 300C, with a positive engagement and good distance between gears (not to mention electronic range select to make getting into lower gears easier, and a tow/haul mode button).

We were also pleasantly surprised to see Ryan Nagode’s climate-control knobs, created for Dodge, in a commercial van whose original design hails from Italy; we have yet to see a setup that’s easier or more pleasant to use. Nearly all the other controls were in sensible places and well marked, the only exception being the left-mounted emergency brake (which is not in a bad place, just unexpected).

The optional stereo had surprisingly good sound, as well as a USB port on the dash. The heater worked quickly, and the fan was quiet; indeed, the cabin was fairly quiet for the type of vehicle, in general. My one complaint was the air pressure: it seemed as though air was being let in, but not let out as quickly, yielding a “thudding” overpressure sound. I’m more sensitive to that than most people, and maybe others won’t notice it; it might have been a caused by the optional cab divider (which looked far more finished in the cab than in the cargo area).

The UConnect 5.0 system was surprisingly responsive and easy to use. Features were fairly oddly chosen, including a fully graphical compass, a sparse collection of preference settings (e.g. for locking behavior) unnecessarily and annoyingly spread out into categories, and a pair of trip computers which work in an odd fashion. There were two “trip” settings in addition to the standard “trip” setting, which worked only from engine start to engine off.

The ProMaster has many surprises for a Sprinter veteran. It’s lower to the ground, presumably thanks to having front wheel drive; that means it’s also easier to load. It’s also much lighter than Sprinter for any given capacity, which means that the minivan engine and transmission were very well matched to the vehicle. Acceleration was surprisingly sprightly, with the ProMaster leaping ahead at traffic lights like a car, not like a big heavy cargo van. One got the impression there was a great deal of power left over for carrying a full, heavy load, a theory we intend to test in the spring.

The transmission (like the gasoline engine) was supplied by Chrysler, and worked very smoothly and predictably, with no hesitation, stuttering, or mis-shifts. Fuel mileage on our trip was fairly low, with a brand new (not broken in) engine and considerable waiting in line for construction and traffic lights; the Fiat diesel is almost certainly a better choice for fuel mileage, regardless.

The big surprise was the cornering, which was much more capable than we had a right to expect. The van turned like a car, with no screaming tires on hard turns, and no loss of traction on poor road surfaces. It jounced around just a little, completely empty, indicating that it probably has a smooth, even ride when reasonably loaded down. Turning over broken concrete roads and driving over railroad tracks did not affect the ProMaster’s composure at all. Overall, the ProMaster felt and rode like a minivan — a special minivan with weight reduction and a handling kit.

The huge windows, seemingly stretching from floor to ceiling, dramatically improved visibility, making the van easy to navigate despite the optional cab separator, which eliminated any pretense of a rear view (the company did not bother to install an interior rear view mirror). Manually controlled but huge mirrors on both sides, with wide angle inserts, helped with that — as did the optional rear park assist. After a remarkably short time, it was easy to get a feel for the “lane center” and front and rear limits of the van.

It was also easy to get in and out. The doors are not very wide, but they swing all the way open, in front and in back; the side door slid open with a smoothness I have never felt in any van or minivan, and I actually opened and closed it a few times just to enjoy its ease of use.

The seats were comfortable, and I’d trade them for the ones in my minivan. I’d trade the suspension too. My one comfort complaint was the positioning of the seat belt, which could have gone higher.

The tested vehicle was a Ram 1500 ProMaster cargo van, 136” wheelbase, low roof; it came with the base gasoline engine, supplied by Chrysler. Standard features included side airbags, side curtain airbags, stability control, brake assist, hill-start assist, roll mitigation (including trailer sway damping), tire pressure display, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, 180-amp alternator, air conditioning, driver and passenger bucket seats, four-speaker FM radio with USB input, tachometer, express power-down windows, telescoping steering column, full size spare, clearance lights, folding mirrors, and tinted glass. Overall, for a commercial cargo van, the base $30,515 bought a lot of features.

Optional equipment was partly clever and partly amusing. There was a deep shelf above the windshield with a one-inch-high lip for binders, maps, and such; it had no rough or sharp edges, and ran $195 including a locking glove box. That would be two hundred dollars well spent.

huh?The cargo partition was $305, and reached from floor to ceiling, completely blocking off the cab from the cargo area; whomever specified the partition, which includes a rear-view mirror delete, also opted for the $150 rear window defroster. That’s a useful combination!

Other options included a lumbar adjustment for the driver’s seat ($50), rear hinged doors with fixed glass ($75), additional key fobs ($125), UConnect 5.0 (adding CD, BlueTooth, audio controls on the steering wheel, and voice command) for $350, 16 inch wheel covers for $195, and that most wonderful of features, the rear parking assist system ($250). The truck had a 5 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance, and a 3/36 bumper to bumper plan.

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2014 RAM ProMaster Open House November 20th: 9am -6pm

Join us at Dick Scott Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram on November 20th for our RAM ProMaster Open House Event!

We will have Refreshments, Demo Drives and while you are here make sure to Enter for a chance to win a $250 Gift Card!

The Ram ProMaster one of our BusinessLink vehicles, come in and see all the Great Benefits you receive as one of our BusinessLink Members!

Meet the Diesels | EcoDiesel and Cummins®: A Family of Power and Performance

The new 2014 Ram EcoDiesel and the Cummins® Turbo Diesel are part of a family tradition of powerful and dependable Ram Trucks engines. No matter the task at hand, these diesel engines stand behind small business owners to perform when performance is needed most.
3.0 Liter EcoDiesel V6 Engine

When it comes to the new 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, there is not a competitor in sight. The 3 liter EcoDiesel boasts a best-in-class fuel economy of better than an estimated 25 miles per gallon, and also has a best-in-class tow rating of 9,300 pounds, topping all base V6 engines in the segment—approaching large V8 capability with 53 percent of the displacement.

How does EcoDiesel achieve this tow rating? Ram Trucks powertrain engineers modified the transmission parking lock inside the exclusive eight-speed TorqueFlite 8 for a higher load rating under hill-hold conditions, allowing for a greater tow rating. Our engineers didn’t stop at towing, though. The EcoDiesel delivers a best-in-class 420 lb-ft of torque, and delivers LESS CO2 into the environment. This truck is equipped with diesel oxidation catalyst, diesel particulate filter and selective catalyst reduction, making the EcoDiesel V6 engine emissions compliant in all 50 states.

Not to mention, the EcoDiesel is B-20 BioDiesel capable, and Biofuel produces fewer air pollutants and less greenhouse gas emissions, making the EcoDiesel V6 engine the cleanest light-duty engine available.
6.7 Liter Cummins® V8 Turbo Diesel Engine

The Ram Heavy-Duty 6.7 liter Cummins® Turbo Diesel I6 is also B-20 fuel capable, while boasting 385 horsepower and a best-in-class 850 lb-ft of torque.

For the hardest jobs, Ram Trucks with the Cummins® Turbo Diesel feature a new cooling system for improved performance and durability, and a best-in-class 15,000-mile oil-change interval will allow you to focus on the task at hand while knowing your vehicle is in it for the long haul.

Among other highlights are the next-generation selective catalytic reduction and diesel exhaust fluid system with a range of up to 4,000 miles between refills, as well as the dual fuel filtration system for enhanced reliability and durability in virtually every climate and environment. And if all that’s not enough, this engine offers an unsurpassed powertrain warranty—five years/100,000 miles.

How do you know which of these highly capable engines is the right choice for you? Visit Dick Scott Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram or Dick Scott Motor Mall to discuss the benefits of each powertrain relative to the business that you’re in.

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2014 Jeep Cherokee

Let’s not mince words: the 2014 Jeep Cherokee is a weird-looking little crossover. However, after taking a spin behind the wheel of a Cherokee Limited and then a Cherokee Trailhawk and then giving the little SUV a scrutinizing walk-around, I’m happy to report that not only does it look better in person than it does in photos, but it also delivers performance and tech that exceeded my admittedly moderate expectations.

Two engine options
Two engine choices are available for the 2014 Cherokee, the first and standard option being Chrysler’s 2.4L Tigershark MultiAir four-cylinder engine. This is the same mill that you can find under the hood of the 2013 Dodge Dart GT, should you be inclined to look, and is good for 184 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque while returning 22 city mpg and 31 highway mpg over the EPA’s test cycle. That’s an adequate amount of power. Though my three passengers and I weren’t exactly blown away by the crossover’s acceleration, the Jeep wasn’t left wanting or wheezing during my short drive through the hills of San Francisco’s Presidio. For drivers who prefer to take it easy, this is the configuration to choose.

Drivers who want a bit more power also have the choice to option a 3.2L Pentastar V-6 engine. This is actually a downsized version of the Chrysler Group’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 that has served the brand for years. At this displacement, it outputs 271 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of torque. Dropping a few ccs of displacement has allowed the Pentastar-equipped Cherokee to reach an estimated 19 city and 27 highway mpg on the EPA’s test cycle.

In this configuration, the Cherokee is much more responsive to throttle inputs with, obviously, much better acceleration when asked. I’ll gladly take the 3-mpg highway hit for the additional get-up-and-go and the additional towing capability that the torque-ier V-6 affords.

Either engine is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission that features sport and manual shifting programs. Having nine forward speeds means that the Jeep does a lot of shifting when tooling around town, but you get used to the smooth gear transitions.

Four drivetrain options
At the lower trim levels, the Cherokee can be had with front-wheel drive, but the models present during my testing were both 4×4 models. Jeep actually offers three different versions of its Active Drive all-wheel-drive system.

Active Drive I is the simplest setup, which uses brake-based traction control to optimize its grip for different terrain types. It also features a rear-axle disconnect, which allows the system to free-wheel its rear wheel under most conditions — effectively giving it the efficiency of a front-wheel-drive system — then instantly re-engage rear drive when front-wheel slip is detected.

Active Drive II builds on the first system with the addition of a low-range drive ratio and a neutral mode that totally disengages all four wheels for flat towing.

Finally, there’s the Active Drive Lock system, which is standard on the Trailhawk. This system also features a 4-Low drive ratio for high torque at low speed when, for example, rock crawling. Also added to the mix at this level is a rear locker, which can lock the rear wheels, which usually spin independently, into a fixed axle, increasing grip for off-road activities.

The Active Drive system features optimizations for a variety of surfaces, which the system can automatically detect or the user can specify using the Selec-Terrain traction controller knob on the center console. There are settings for auto, snow, and sand and mud. There’s also a sport setting that optimizes vehicle performance and the transmission’s program for more responsive on-road driving. For Active Drive Lock models, there’s also a setting for rocks and it has buttons that engage the 4-Low drive ratio, rear locker, and descent speed control.

The Trailhawk trim level also features a number of other off-road optimizations to go along with its Active Drive Lock system. The suspension has been raised an inch over the stock ride height to increase its break-over angle and water-fording depth (now up to 20 inches). The front and rear bumpers are unique, increasing its approach and departure angles. Bright-red tow hooks have been affixed to the chassis at the front and rear ends and skid plates have been affixed to the undercarriage to protect the suspension from branches and rocks.

I wasn’t able to really test Jeep’s claims about the Cherokee Trailhawk’s off-road chops, but was assured that the crossover had earned its Trail Rated badge during testing in the Mojave and on the Rubicon trail.

Our testing took place on public roads, so it should come as no surprise that I preferred my drive in the Limited model. Without the off-road optimizations, the standard suspension setup gave the crossover a much better seat-of-the-pants feel with much more responsive steering and a firmer ride. That the Limited was equipped with the larger engine option helped.

Uconnect dashboard tech
The 2014 Cherokee is available at all trim levels with the Chrysler Group’s Uconnect infotainment system. We’ve seen this system before in a variety of Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep vehicles and really like it.

The giant 8.4-inch touch screen is easy to see and gives plenty of room for large virtual buttons that can be quickly tapped from the driver’s seat. Navigation with traffic is available, optional, and powered by Garmin’s excellent mapping and routing software. And the list of available digital-audio sources is satisfying in its inclusiveness. Whether you connect via Bluetooth, USB, or aux-in, or carry your music around on an SD card, you’ll find the connection that you’re looking for in the Cherokee’s dashboard.

I also like the connectivity and telematics features that have been added to this latest generation of Uconnect Access, which includes app integration with Yelp, Pandora, Slacker, Aha Radio, and others, as well as an optional WiFi Hotspot functionality that allows passengers to connect to the Web via the Cherokee’s 3G data connection.

Around the cabin you’ll also find a variety of standard and optional convenience features such as a powered lift gate, a wireless charging pad for smartphones, and an optional dual-pane sunroof. Non-tech features such as a reclining rear bench and a hidden storage bin in the front passenger seat cushion are also nice touches.

Safety technology and automatic parking
Getting off the beaten path is cool, but most Jeep Cherokees will probably live most of their lives on public roads, in traffic with other drivers. So Jeep has made available an impressive array of safety and convenience features for a vehicle in this class.

In addition to the rear camera, the Cherokee can be had with front and rear proximity sensors with ParkSense braking assistance, which can grab the brakes automatically if, for example, a dog or toddler darts behind the vehicle while it’s reversing. Also available are blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert and an optional lane departure warning system that can notify an inattentive driver when that the vehicle is drifting out of its lane.

Optional adaptive cruise control boasts a feature called Stop and Go, which can bring the vehicle all the way down to a complete stop when traffic slows down and then resume forward motion as traffic creeps ahead. The forward sensor for the adaptive cruise also feeds a forward collision warning system that can notify the driver when a crash is imminent and automatically apply the brakes.

Finally, the Cherokee can be had with Active ParkSense, which is an automatic parking system similar to the one that Ford offers for many of its latest vehicles. This sonar-based system is a one-button affair that can automatically search for available roadside parking on the passenger side of the vehicle, notify the driver when a sufficiently sized space has been found, and then automatically steer the Cherokee into the space. This is the first implementation of this technology for the Chrysler group and one of the first vehicles that I’ve tested that offers the driver the choice between parallel parking and perpendicular parking.

In sum
You may not be a fan of the Cherokee’s looks, but there’s a lot to like beneath the sheet metal and in the cabin. The 4×4 drive train mated with the optional 3.2-liter engine makes for engaging, yet still relatively efficient performance. Meanwhile the level of available safety and convenience tech is impressive. The Cherokee’s cabin is crammed with sophisticated features that I think would make this crossover easy to live with on a day-to-day basis, whether tackling dirt trails or urban canyons.

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What’s New for 2014 Durango

What’s New for 2014

The 2014 Dodge Durango gets a new eight-speed automatic transmission, revised front and rear styling, and an updated interior with newly available features like an 8.4-inch touchscreen display and a rear-seat Blu-ray player. Trim levels and equipment have also been shuffled.

The Dodge Durango is one of our favorite options for a six- or seven-passenger SUV. The current generation not only has the roomy seating and polished ride that you’d expect in a family-oriented, three-row utility vehicle, it also has an optional V8 engine and impressive tow ratings that you typically see only on larger, more traditional SUVs. For 2014, Dodge ( has updated the Durango to help it keep up with the competition in this price range. Although the even more aggressive styling is what you’ll notice first, it’s the less obvious changes that make the biggest difference on the 2014 Dodge Durango.

The changes in the cabin are particularly striking, as the Durango gets an all-new instrument panel and an updated dash that accommodates a large, intuitive 8.4-inch touchscreen that uses an upgraded version of the company’s Uconnect system to provide smartphone app integration, text-to-speech capability for text messages and a more robust voice control interface. High-quality interior surfaces abound, and much like its Jeep Grand Cherokee cousin, the 2014 Durango feels decidedly upscale for its class.

On the mechanical side, the 2014 Durango has a new eight-speed automatic transmission, which serves up impressively smooth shifts while providing a numerically small but still significant improvement in EPA fuel economy ratings. The new transmission also makes better use of what power the base V6 engine has to offer — although we’ve steered consumers toward the more powerful V8 in past years, a V6 Durango merits stronger consideration in 2014 due to its more energetic performance.

Of course, we’d still recommend the V8 if you intend to take frequent advantage of the 2014 Dodge Durango’s towing capability, which, along with its rich interior and unusually good ride and handling, is one of the best reasons to consider this SUV. However, the Durango doesn’t provide as much cargo room as most of its rivals. Well-regarded family crossovers like the Chevrolet Traverse and Mazda CX-9 offer considerably more capacity. We’d also recommend that you check out the Ford Explorer and Flex. But overall the updated 2014 Durango is one of the most appealing options out there for a six- or seven-passenger SUV.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2014 Dodge Durango large crossover SUV is available in four trim levels: SXT, Limited, R/T and Citadel. You’ll also come across Durangos with Rallye badging; the Rallye is an equipment package on the SXT. Seven-passenger seating is standard across the board; optional second-row captain’s chairs reduce capacity to six.

Standard equipment on the SXT includes 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, roof rails, heated sideview mirrors, full power accessories, cruise control, tri-zone automatic climate control (includes separate rear air-conditioning), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cloth upholstery, a fold-flat front passenger seat, a 60/40-split-folding and reclining second-row seat, a 50/50-split-folding third-row seat, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a 5-inch touchscreen display, satellite radio, and USB and auxiliary inputs.

Several option packages are available on the Durango SXT. The 23B package adds roof-rail crossbars, upgraded cloth upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat with four-way lumbar, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and satellite radio. The Popular Equipment Group adds heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Rallye package adds 20-inch wheels, polished exhaust tips and additional body-color exterior trim while deleting the roof rails.

The Limited has most of the above equipment as standard but reverts to 18-inch wheels. It also comes with a remote ignition, leather upholstery, driver memory settings, a six-way power passenger seat, a 115-volt power outlet and an 8.4-inch touchscreen display with an upgraded version of Dodge’s Uconnect system. The latter includes voice control, text-to-speech messaging capability, emergency roadside assistance, streaming Internet radio (delayed availability) and 3G Wi-Fi capability (via an extra-cost contract). The larger touchscreen and related infotainment features are optional on the SXT.

The R/T essentially includes the upgrades of the Limited (minus the roof rails) along with a V8 engine, 20-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, xenon headlights (low beams only), body-color accents (similar to the Rallye), a power liftgate and an upgraded nine-speaker sound system.

The Citadel reverts to a less aggressive suspension tune and a standard V6 engine, but otherwise builds on the R/T’s equipment list, adding automatic high-beam control, automatic wipers, a sunroof, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an eight-way power front-passenger seat, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a navigation system with traffic updates and a Yelp-based search engine. All these amenities are optional on the R/T.

Optional on both the R/T and Citadel is the Technology Group, which includes adaptive cruise control, a forward collision warning/mitigation system and a blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alerts. Also available on these trims is a rear-seat Blu-ray/DVD entertainment system with dual video screens and an HDMI input. Options for the whole lineup include a towing package, a skid-plate package (except R/T) and an in-dash CD player.
Powertrains and Performance

The 2014 Dodge Durango is offered with either a V6 or V8 engine. While the SXT only comes with the V6 and the R/T only comes with the V8, the Limited and Citadel trims can be equipped with either one. Depending on the model, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive is available. The light-duty AWD system is only available with the V6 engine. The on-demand 4WD system features dual-range gearing (which makes it more capable on rugged terrain) and is standard with the V8 engine. All models come with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The 3.6-liter V6 engine is rated at 290 horsepower (295 hp with the Rallye package) and 260 pound-feet of torque. The EPA’s estimated fuel economy is 20 mpg combined (18 mpg city/25 mpg highway) with rear-wheel drive and 19 mpg combined (17 city/24 highway) with all-wheel drive.

The 5.7-liter V8 is good for 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. Rear-drive models are rated at 17 mpg combined (14 city/23 highway), while AWD versions are rated at 16 combined (14 city/22 highway).

Properly equipped, a V8 Durango can tow up to 7,400 pounds, while the V6 version tops out at 6,200 pounds — in either case, far more than most rival crossover SUVs can tow.

Antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, trailer sway control, front side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are standard on every 2014 Dodge Durango. A rearview camera and parking sensors are optional on the SXT and standard on all other Durangos.

Models with Uconnect Access (included with the 8.4-inch touchscreen) have an emergency telematics system that connects you with 911 operators at the touch of a button and provides stolen vehicle tracking. Optional on the Limited, Citadel and R/T is a blind-spot monitoring system with cross-traffic alerts. Note that the available Technology Group available on R/T and Citadel models now includes a more advanced forward collision warning and mitigation system that automatically applies the brakes in potential collision situations.

In government tests, the Durango received five out of five stars for side-impact protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the Durango earned a “Good” rating for its performance in moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength crash tests.
Interior Design and Special Features

Modern and functional, the 2014 Dodge Durango’s cabin has been designed with families in mind. Regardless of trim level, the design is attractive and features upscale materials.

With this latest update to the Durango, materials quality is now class-leading, and the cabin has an uncommonly elegant feel for this class. The available 8.4-inch touchscreen display is attractive and easy to use. The gauges look better, too, with crisp graphics and a useful trip computer display.

The front seats are roomy and comfortable, but the standard second-row bench has rather flat cushioning (which helps promote a flatter load floor when the seat is folded) and doesn’t offer quite as much legroom as roomier rivals. The Durango’s easily accessed third row, on the other hand, offers a surprising amount of leg- and headroom (even for 6-footers) and is indeed more spacious than the Ford Explorer’s.

With the second- and third-row seats folded down, the Durango can carry up to 84.5 cubic feet of cargo. This is a respectable amount, but competing large crossover SUVs like the Chevy Traverse and Mazda CX-9 offer considerably more cargo space.
Driving Impressions

The 2014 Dodge Durango is distantly related to the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, and it shows in the way this nearly 5,000-pound vehicle drives down the road. Steering is responsive and the Durango is easy to maneuver on almost any road. On a long interstate cruise, it provides a quiet and relaxed cabin environment.

Low-end torque is not a strong suit of the V6, but once the Dodge Durango is moving, the engine pulls respectably. Midrange acceleration is adequate for passing and merging, and there’s a noticeable improvement in responsiveness with the new eight-speed automatic transmission. As expected, the V8 offers brisk all-around performance and a satisfyingly deep exhaust note on acceleration.

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2014 Nissan Rogue

The 2014 Nissan Rogue / X-Trail was unveiled Tuesday at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show with a more aggressive exterior and an interior aimed at providing more utility and comfort. Nissan also announced pricing on the 2014 Rogue compact crossover for the U.S.: A 2014 Nissan Rogue S will start at $23,350, including destination when it goes on sale in November. All-wheel drive is available on every 2014 Rogue trim from the S to the SV and SL, at a cost of $1350.

Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn introduced the line, which will offer seating for seven, including a sliding second-row seat. Cargo area is easily created by folding the third row flat when necessary.

Ghosn, who said the X-Trail (it will still be badged as the Rogue in the U.S.) will present “class-leading levels of value, performance, and style,” also said that powertrain efficiencies mean the crossover will get 20 percent better fuel economy than the models it replaces. It will also earn Nissan’s blue “Pure Drive” badge. The 2013 Nissan Rogue gets an EPA-rated 22-23/27-28 mpg city/highway, and Nissan is targeting 33 mpg highway for the 2014 model.

Nissan announced in an accompanying release that the 2014 Rogue will start at $23,350 for the S front-drive model. That represents a price increase of over $2000 compared to the outgoing model. The top of the line will be the all-wheel-drive 2014 Rogue SL, which has a base price of $30,280. The tech available in the Rogue includes NissanConnect with navigation and apps, around-view monitor with moving-object detection, blind-spot warning, lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning, and full LED headlights.

The Rogue will be powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 170 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque, the latter a number Nissan cites as being best-in-class.

The exterior has definitely been retuned toward more aggressive front- and back-ends, with LED daytime running lights surrounding the available LED headlights. Muscular ridges around the wheel wells give the Rogue more of a sport-ute appearance rather than the around-town family vehicle many use it as.

Inside, Ghosn said people would find “unexpected comfort and quietness” due to soft-touch materials and engineering focus on NVH.

The NASA-influenced high-comfort driver seat design that debuted in the 2013 Nissan Altima will be picked up for the X-Trail.

The X-Trail / Rogue will be built at nine different plants around the world.

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2014 Polaris RZR XP 1000

One-upmanship is the name of the game in the side-by-side world, with each manufacturer trying to outdo the competition with more power and better suspension. Every model year the technology and engineering marches forward with new models that seem to render the last batch of high performance rippers obsolete. But how much further can the envelope be pushed before the prices and speeds are just too much for the average Joe. Polaris seems intent on taking it to the limit, and its latest RZR, the $19,999 2014 Polaris RZR XP 1000, might be the machine that is the first to bump up against that ceiling.

The 2014 RZR XP 1000 is a whole new machine from the ground up. It’s bigger, faster and better suspended than any RZR that has come before. Even the most extreme, race-modified side-by-sides from a few years ago couldn’t match the specs offered up by the XP1000. It’s clear this new RZR is the king of the hill even before getting behind the wheel. 107 horsepower, 18 inches of travel, 13.5 inches of ground clearance and a MSRP of $19,999. The numbers are impressive in every way.

We headed to Parker, Arizona to find out if the numbers don’t lie. Polaris set us loose for the day on sections of the Best in the Desert Parker 425 racecourse. That right there shows how much confidence the Minnesota manufacturer has in the XP 1000. Not much is harder on equipment than desert racing and that is effectively what we did for the day.

From the first stab at the gas pedal, it was clear that the power on tap from the XP 1000’s ProStar powerplant is on an entirely new level. The bottom-end grunt that is put to the dirt through the PVT transmission is eye opening. There is so much on tap right from the get-go that you either spin the tires in the loose dirt or get pressed deep into the seat when the traction is good. The power continues to build just as strongly through the mid-range and finally tapers off at the top-end. I’ve never driven a stock machine with so much speed and power on tap. For the first time in a side-by-side, I actually say that this is fast enough. I was never left wanting more.

Throttle response is snappy and along with the strength of the powerplant, breaking the rear end loose in both 2- and 4-wheel drive is easy at just about any speed. And when things go sideways, you’d better be ready. Due to its abundance of suspension travel the XP 1000 has more body roll than previous models, even with a new, larger sway bar. When the weight rolls to the outside of the corner, the rear suspension squats on the gas and lifts the front inside wheel. At first it can be unsettling for a novice driver, but after a few times you adjust your comfort level and driving style. Just don’t expect to jam it into a berm like you would with a slower and lower machine. Respect the power, speed and wheel-travel and all is good.

And, wow, does the RZR XP 1000 have wheel-travel. Up front the 2-inch Walker Evans piggyback shocks stroke through 16 inches, and at the rear massive 2.5-inch units give 18 inches of travel. Just for comparison, the RZR XP 900 has 13.5 and 14.5 inches front and back. Both ends are adjustable for preload and compression, but the stock settings are just about perfect. After slamming through some seriously deep whoops we stopped and added four clicks of compression damping to counter some bottoming of the chassis with two butts in the seats. No other changes were needed for the rest of the day. This RZR just eats up anything you point it at. It is complaint in the small stuff and can handle huge jumps with ease. Although there is no option for rebound damping adjustment, the rear end doesn’t kick up unless the suspension is slammed hard into a steep-faced obstacle. Most of the time it is well controlled and confidence inspiring.

Polaris’ Electronic Power Steering makes tight turns and rock trails a dream. Not once did we experience any kickback to the wheel, and the response is quick. One small criticism is that the front-end feel is slightly numb in comparison to non-EPS machines. The trade-off is quite worth it, however.

Braking performance from the four-wheel disc brakes featuring 248mm rotors and dual piston calipers is spot-on for the speed and weight of the XP. Pedal feel is very positive and the wheels do not lock prematurely. When they do lock, the rear does first allowing the front wheels to continue slowing the machine.

The new cockpit feels slightly larger than the XP 900 and the switchgear, gauges and layout is similar, yet is of higher quality. The glove box is significantly larger and the second center box features a handy smartphone holder. Honestly when I read about this feature I wrote it off as a gimmick, but it is my favorite user feature on the dash. The clear screen allows for you to use your phone as a navigation device.

The addition of half doors to the XP could be the most useful non-performance improvement. No longer do you have to fight with the silly netting and clips when getting in and out of the side-by-side. Opening and closing is easy and secure, thanks to its solid slam latch. I will say that a full door would have been better as roost off the front wheels can enter the opening below the door.

Driver and passenger comfort has also been improved with the new seats. Under-seat sliders allow for easy forward and back adjustment of both the deeply bolstered seats. In the corners they limit side-to-side movement, giving the driver more control. Not to mention they are some of the most comfortable OEM units out there.

The 2014 Polaris RZR XP 1000 has, without a doubt, raised the bar for performance side-by-sides. It is truly the first UTV that requires the driver to be aware of how much power, suspension and handling is on tap and to drive accordingly. It’s an intense experience that even the best drivers will find satisfying. We’ve entered a new era in side-by-sides, one that will take talent and willpower from the one behind the wheel. I can’t wait for what comes next, but for now the XP 1000 is more than enough.

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2014 Dodge Durango – Best Equipped 7 Passenger SUV on the Market!

Starting under $30,000, the 2014 Dodge Durango is the best-equipped seven-passenger SUV on the market!

2014 durango

There are five different trim levels but every 2014 Dodge Durango features a standard 8-speed automatic transmission, projector headlamps, projector fog lamps, floating split crosshair grille, signature LED racetrack taillights, bright chrome or body-color accents, 18-inch or 20-inch aluminum wheels, Bluetooth, 5-inch or 8.4-inch touch screen, rotary shifter with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, 7-inch customizable gauge cluster, Keyless Enter ’n Go with push-button start, seven airbags, seven passenger seating (now is the time to catch your breath here).

There are so many features loaded into the 2014 Dodge Durango you will want to sprint to the nearest showroom to check out this ultimate “No-Compromise SUV.”…

2014 Dodge Durango SXT: starting U.S. MSRP of $29,795
2014 Dodge Durango SXT w/ Rallye: starting U.S. MSRP of $32,990
2014 Dodge Durango Limited: starting U.S. MSRP of $35,995
2014 Dodge Durango R/T: starting U.S. MSRP of $38,995
2014 Dodge Durango Citadel: starting U.S. MSRP of $40,995
All prices exclude $995 destination.

The 2014 Dodge Durango will start arriving in dealer showrooms at the end of the third quarter but you can stop in now to order your Durango.