The current generation Dodge Durango (code name WD) debuted in 2011 with great and positive reviews. Many Mopar fans were delighted to see the popular nameplate return to a more traditionally styled SUV, rather than the oddly shaped second-generation model. The 2011 Dodge Durango was ready for competition, having moved to a shared platform with the formidable Jeep® Grand Cherokee (WK2).
Following rapid mid-cycle action (MCA) for the 2014 model year, the Durango received a new ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic transmission that makes the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and 5.7-liter HEMI V8 options more responsive and made it more balanced. The 2014 update also brought revamped front and rear styling elements, including the now-famous ‘race-track’ taillight design, an updated interior and a massive upgrade in the infotainment department.
Fast-forward to 2018, Dodge finally gave Durango fans what they asked for with the 6.4-liter HEMI V8-powered Durango SRT. The Durango SRT brought a new update to Durango’s front-end styling and a new performance hood that mimicked the design of the Challenger SRT Hellcat. Those elements would later be added to various models within the lineup.
Then came 2021, the Grand Cherokee got an all-new fifth-generation three-row model (Grand Cherokee L) and the Durango needed something to get through the last few years of its life cycle before becoming a larger SUV (according to recent rumours). . So how much has the Durango changed in its most recent update? Well, if you don’t know…significantly.
While most of the sheet metal has remained intact, everything else has been updated. With styling cues from the Challenger, Charger and Durango SRT, the 2021 Dodge Durango features all-new LED lighting, front end and new Gloss Silver and Black finish colors. After years of living with a 2014 Dodge Durango Limited with the Pentastar V6, it was time for an upgrade. In the end, we upgraded our Durango, both in equipment and powertrains, with a Durango Citadel with the 5.7-liter HEMI V8.
The 2021 Dodge Durango Citadel is the more luxurious model of the Durango range. But instead of throwing chrome trim on a Durango, the Dodge Platinum design studio added Platinum Chrome accents on the mirrors, rocker moldings, grille, decals and fog lamp surrounds, which aren’t as shiny as traditional chrome, but have a very premium feel. give to the car. A new set of 20-inch “Satin Carbon” aluminum rims also helped improve the Citadel’s appearance. We were grateful to see an option for wheels other than black, which has become too familiar in all vehicle setups these days.
At the rear of the vehicle there are not many changes other than an update to the mid-mounted traffic light (CHMSL) and a small change in the shape of the spoiler to allow for the lighting change.
The interior is where the real surprises begin. It is clear that the entire instrument panel (I/P), dashboard and center console have been updated to a “cockpit style”, similar to what is found in both the Charger and Challenger models. But it’s the details you find right away that show just how polished the 2021+ Durango models really are.
Let’s take the door panels for example. While they have the same styling as the pre-2021 models, there is one material change that is noticed as soon as you touch it. The door panel feels firmer and doesn’t move when you pull it. The buttons on the memory seat are now integrated into the door jamb shape and are made from the same switchgear as in the Ram 1500 (DT) pickups. The Nappa leather seats are also soft to the touch and smell wonderful. Our Citadel model features the Suede headliner, which really changes the look of the overall interior. The interior may seem darker, but it also feels much more luxurious.
We also noticed that our 2021 Dodge Durango is a lot quieter than our 2014 model, even at speed with the HEMI V8. This could be due to the acoustic glass or perhaps changes in the sound attenuation, but it is noticeably different.
The thin film transistor (TFT) instrument display now has a border above the screen that follows the shape of the speedometer. Then there’s the 10.1-inch Uconnect® 5 infotainment touchscreen, which blows away the previous 8.4-inch Uconnect 4C unit. Our Citadel also has the Premium Entertainment Group, which features the Harman Kardon® 19-speaker sound system with a subwoofer and an 825-watt amplifier. The Harman Kardon system sounds great and is a must-have for audiophiles. There’s also the dual video screens that fold neatly into the front seat backs, something my kids love on those long car rides.
During the holidays, we put some serious miles on the Citadel and it made a deep impression on my wife and me. We recently bought a 1970 Plymouth Duster parts car and decided to use the Durango to haul it. The integrated trailer brake controller worked perfectly and recognized that the trailer was connected. All brake and electrical connections are displayed on the I/P and manual controls are within easy reach. The Trailer-Tow package also includes load-level rear dampers. Our HEMI Citadel has a towing capacity of 7,400 lbs. (that’s 200 lbs. more than the all-new Grand Cherokee L with the 5.7-liter HEMI). Needless to say, the Durango could easily handle the weight of our aluminum tilt trailer and the Duster.
If you’re considering a full-size three-row SUV and haven’t gone to the 2021 or 2022 Dodge Durango yet, you really should. While many of the changes are subtle, I was amazed at how completely different this Durango looks and feels compared to the previous model that served us well with no major maintenance issues after 155,000 miles. I expect this Durango will do the same for us. Proving to be one of the best values in the segment, the Durango proves that it gives the all-new Grand Cherokee L a run for its money at a much more affordable price.
Stay tuned as we will continue to provide updates on our ownership experience of the 2021 Dodge Durango Citadel. Don’t be surprised to see it on our social media accounts, as well as seeing it haul a classic Mopar project car or two in the future.
2021 Dodge Durango Citadel HEMI Image Gallery: