Dodge's Durango carries its toughness up front. In the past it's been even more a truck with a body, but in its 2011 redesign, it grew more mature, more handsome, in a less attention-demanding way. Though it's lost some of that old muscle tone as it's gotten bigger and longer, the shape still frames it as an SUV.
The big crosshair grille up front is mostly responsible for setting up the classic SUV stance. It makes all the difference in carving out a sport-ute silhouette for the Durango, distinct from the more carlike creatures in its class. Where it doesn't look quite as rugged is from the rear quarters: From some angles, there's plenty of Toyota Sequoia to go around, and not quite enough of the flared fenders and aggressive sculpting that telegraph "Dodge" to the eyeballs.
New for this year are hockey-stick-shaped LED running lamps on all but the base SXT, and HID headlamps on top R/T and Citadel models. The textured crosshair grille is slimmer, and the hood and lower front fascia have been resculpted in a minor way. LED racetrack lighting, as in the Dodge Dart, forms a ribbon of light across the tail, with 192 individual lamps in all. That's the detail we'd question--the racetrack shape might be more than enough.
There's more visual impact in the cockpit, where almost none of that more authoritative, truck-like heritage has been carried over. For 2014 the Durango has shucked its previous dash--which was nicely rendered--for a new one with serious touches of class--soft textures, thin metallic rings framing the major controls, a large touchscreen to rule the infotainment world. With leather upholstery, woven red inserts and red stitching, and white trim rings on the dials, even the R/T feels bold yet very tastefully done. In any case, the Durango feels less like an on-a-budget utility vehicle and more like a luxury SUV, done right.