OK, so I've spent around 125 miles and 2 days with the new '14 Durango
- Granite Crystal Exterior
- Light Frost Beige Interior
- Technology Package
- Blu-Ray rear-seat package
- Tow Package
- 2nd Row captains chairs
- Full Second row Console
...so here are my initial thoughts on the delivery process and the vehicle. just to be up-front: I only have one pic for now. More will be coming later today but the weather was horrible yesterday and the ol' girl had the "wet leaves" and grime on her. She'll get a bath later this morning and I'll get some more pics for y'all.
This will be long-winded, I think...ummm....no...I'm sure it will be long winded!
Nielsen Jeep/Chrysler/Dodge in East Hanover, NJ. Delivery was on October 31, which is notable for two reasons. One, it was the last day of the month and was therefore busy (with guys making deals to meet quotas I assume)...and two...the place was decked out for Halloween, and this includes the staff. My salesman Dave was a little discouraged since he has decked out in a Tux as part of his Dracula costume, though everyone thought he was a waiter. Having your finances done by a dude with a horn sticking out of his head with a bloodied and black-n-blue face is another experience I'll never forget. Great make-up....I was just happy it wasn't customers coming out of his office looking like that...
Anyway, the process was painless, however long and drawn out. I had already gone in last week to have my credit check / rate locked in, etc, so I figured all I really needed to do was inspect and sign. That process took over 2 hours, mostly due to how busy Finance was with all the deals being made. The staff at Nielsens was pleasant, though, and after test driving my D, poor Bill sat in the car with me to "show me" UConnect and some of the features of the car which I ended up having to help him out with.
He did demonstrate the text dictation with my smartphone connected...more on that later. My salesman Bill was very good to me during the entire process from July to Present. Always prompt and courteous when returning e-mail questions, no problem ordering not 1 but 2 '14 Durangos (due to a change in heart on the color) for me when I've heard other folks have great difficulty getting one ordered back in July / August.
No surprises in Finance (actually, they got me a better rate than what was quoted to me last week), and at the end of the day ended up with:
* Pricing $400 less than the affiliate price (I used AccessFund.org to get my affiliate number...the affiliate price is 1% under invoice.)
* Rate 1.69% for 60 months
* Max Lifetime Service Contract ($100 deductible) for $2200.
* There was a $1000 factory cash incentive.
Fit and Finish
Having my trusty PDI checklist in hand, I have gone over most of the items on the list. I have thus far found zero faults with the interior. As others have noted, the headliner and a-column trim is a slightly different color than the light frost beige seats and door trim. It's more of a light gray. I have no problem with it (might not even show up in the pics).
Outside, not quite as problem free as the interior, but close. The only thing I've found that I want to have addressed is the hood, which is slightly misaligned. There is more of a gap on the driver's side between the fender and the hood than on the passenger side, and it has an ever so slight rotation which makes the front edge on the passenger side (toward the head-light) come close to being in contact with the fender. Unless someone here knows if adjusting the hood is a user-serviceable item, I'll be taking this back to the dealer to get adjusted. (Again, I'll have a pic of this later.)
The passenger side rear door is ever-so-slightly not entirely flush with the rear fender...but I'm thinking I'm just too OCD.
Otherwise, paint looks great (no bubble issues inside the hood / fender area), tailgate alignment looks spot on, etc. One thing I did notice is that it takes a bit more force to shut the doors completely than I'm used to applying. Wonder if others have this experience. And to be honest, the doors don't have that satisfying "thunk" when closing them that you get with some brands / models. Oh well.
I did need to lower the tire pressure from about 40 PSI at which it was delivered to me, down to the factory recommended 36. (20" wheels).
I have logged enough miles now to be passed the "really baby it" phase (first 60 miles or so), and I'm working through the "break in" period in which I will periodically apply Wide Open Throttle (WOT) after attaining a crusing speed.
Admittedly, I have not driven it fully "loaded up with kids and cargo", but the V-6 is thus far proving more than adequate. Very happy. Periodically when in ECO mode I will sense some hesitation when trying to accelerate when already at a low speed. (Example, slowing down to about 10 MPH, and then pressing the accelerator lightly). I would expect this out of ECO mode though. So in short, nothing but praise so far for the transmission. Smooth power delivery, and quick enough off the line.
The ride is as most have experienced: great!
Quiet cabin, no issues with tire vibration, no squeeks or rattles. Soaks up bumps well. Steering weight feels great to me, better turning radius than my FWD minivan had. Love, love, LOVE the ride.
I'm still getting used to the dial shifter. Though I'm no longer looking for a place to rest my hand, I so sometimes shift all the way to Park when I want reverse, etc.
Nice soft-touch materials where it needs them: on things you touch. the rubberized knobs on the center stack, etc. The dial shifter has a rock solid feeling to it. Steering wheel feels great.
It's going to take a little while to get used to the blinker stalk. I don't have a problem with it being too "far" from the wheel that others have noted, but the steering wheel does block visibility to the stalk...so until I have some of the wiper functions ingrained in my motor memory, it takes some futzing around with if I want to change the rain sensitivity, turn on the rear wiper, etc.
I'll have a separate section for UConnect...but the driver EVIC is stunning IMO. Very clear and bright...easy to customize and navigate through, and there isn't much that I would like to have made available that you can't get information on. One item I would like to see is for the Audio section. When on an XM station, it will display the radio station but not the song / artist. (You have to go to the center stack display for that.) I'd like to be able to set the EVIC to display the song and artist as well when tuned to an XM station.
I knew going into this that there would be limited storage space up front, especially with the Blu-Ray player taking up space in the center console. For the way I use my cars, not a problem. (I keep as little amount of "stuff" as possible in my cars.) If this were my wife's daily driver though, she might have a more serious issue with it. If you're a pack-rat, make sure you will be happy with the storage areas up front.
I do wish there was maybe one more USB port up front for charging. You get 1 USB and two cigarette lighter style power outlets accessible up front...I would rather have a USB power port in the center console than the cigarette style one. I am also not sure why the top of the front console does not have the "split" option...whereby you can either open the entire armest to get into the main storage area...or you can open the top portion to reveal a tray to put things on. I knew that when you get the DVD or Blu-Ray you lose that tray...I'm just not sure why. I would find that tray useful.
The center console in the second row has plenty
of storage and power outlet options. (Including 115V AC power inverter). And for those who don't know...when you fold all of the seats down, the top of the center console sits higher than the load floor...however there is a lever that allows you to "flip" the console top (basically open it in reverse...so it folds forward). This allows for a level loading floor, and keeps the vinyl of the console from being exposed to the contents you're loading up the D with.
I like the adjustable spot / reading lights for the second row passengers. Never realized it had these, and the kids will really appreciate them.
Operating the second row seats to gain access to the third row is easy for adults, but my daughter (11) still needs some practice with it. If you have YOUNG kids, the walk-through center console is probably the way to go.
One thing I would encourage Chrysler to work on is the second row seating flexibility. The seats themselves are comfortable enough, but there is no forward - aft adjustment. I'm pretty sure all competitors allow this. Since everyone in my family has relatively short legs, we have no problem with this. (I'm 5'8"). However if you are a tall driver and need to put the front seat back, and you have tall second row passengers, I could see where comfort could start to be an issue.
Driving Convince / Safety Technologies
Let me just say that in general, I am pleasantly surprised at how well all of the "automatic" convenience features work in general. (Auto high-beams, rain sensing wipers, etc.) In many cases, features like these work "OK" but you're always tinkering with them. In my experience so far, I'm pretty sure I can just set them on auto and leave them there, they work that good. The blind spot monitoring has also performed well. The chime (which activates when there is someone in your blind spot and you put your turn signal on) is just the right type and level to alert you, but not be overly harsh.
Auto lowering side view mirrors: I have this on our other car and I love it. (The mirrors tilt down automatically when in reverse.) However, on the Durango I feel that they may tilt down too much.
I'll have to see how it goes over the next several weeks to see if I keep then feature enabled or not.
Crash mitigation was activated once while I was driving...as it should have. (I was approaching a car that had stopped short in front of me a bit too fast.) It did not need to brake, but it did properly get my attention.
And now the crown jewel...adaptive cruise control. This. Is. Awesome
ACC was one of my "must have" features in the new car when I was shopping. I am still floored at how well the implementation works in this truck. To test this, I went on a two lane highway in my area that has traffic lights. Especially the first time you use it...it is a bit eerie / uneasy feeling when you're crusing at say 50 MPH, and you see up ahead the traffic light turning red and the cars in front of you put the brake lights on....
Naturally, I pick up my foot off the floor ready to brake, but I wait....and sure enough the D applies the brakes and comes to a full stop. After a couple seconds at a complete stop, ACC is disengaged and you need to step on the brake manually. Then the light turns green, tap the resume button...and off you go again. Sweet.
But what really floored me was this situation: I set cruise to say 60. My D approached the car in front of me (in the right lane) who was doing 50, and it dutifully slowed and is now trailing that car based on the following distance I set. The left lane is clear (no car in the left lane).
As soon as I put my left turn signal on
, you feel the engine rev as it starts to accelerate. This is before you turn the wheel. So the D is accelerating, just like I would as you are changing lanes.
It doesn't need to wait until you have changed lanes fully before starting to resume to speed.
Another area which continues to outright impress me is UConnect. The touchscreen is responsive the layout and menuing system is intuitive. The one area where the screen itself was not as responsive, was trying to use a "scroll bar". It doesn't always follow your finger well. I found myself paging up and down through the lists rather than scrolling. The Voice Recognition has worked almost flawlessly for me. Setting temperature "Set all temperature to 72". Navigation "Navigate to 1625 State Route 10, Morris Plains, NJ". No, that's not my home address.
"Tune to Coffee House" (tunes to XM station "Coffee House"). "Call Home". "Message to (contact name)".
Yes, I had a fun time sending and receiving text messages via dictation with my brother. I have a blackberry Z-10, and the blue-tooth integration seems to be supported fully. (I don't believe iPhones support message dictation, but I'm not 100% sure.)
The important thing to remember with Voice Recognition is to Speak Naturally
and try and refrain from speaking in a "robot" voice that we've come to expect is needed.
I have not had ample opportunity to use some of the advanced navigation or uconnect connected features, but I love the clarity and options on the nav screen. Based on someone's suggestion though, I did change the option on the nav to only "reroute" if the current route has incidents that result in a delay of say 20 minutes or more. (So if you are in some traffic, you won't automatically be rerouted off the highway unless the anticipated delay is notable.) This would help keep the nav from being "too sensitive" to traffic.
I side-loaded the current Android uconnect access app to my Blackberry, and it works perfectly. (Able to remote start from my phone, etc.) Note that you can in fact also do this from any web browser...so if you have say a Windows Phone (which does not have a native app for UConnect), you should still be able to do this from your phone by logging into moparownerconnect.com.
I will actually test this with my Wife's Windows phone later.
Still have lots to play with regarding UConnect....by so far I am overly impressed with it.
Blu-Ray Rear Entertainment
Again...very well executed! The screen's clarity is excellent...and I tried several types of media: DVD, Blu-Ray, DVD-R and DVD+R discs recorded on my PC. All recognized and worked no problems.
From the front center stack, you can choose what input source to use (the Disc, or any of the AV / HDMI inputs from either seat) to display on all screens. Then each seat can override this. So you can, for example, play the DVD on the front console (only visible in park), and on the left rear passenger seat, and the person sitting on the right rear passenger seat can elect to use his own AV input instead.
The remote is back-lit. It has a switch to select from "screen 1" to "screen 2" so that the back-seat users merely flip the switch for the seat they want to control, and then use it. (Change inputs, screen brightness, DVD / Blu-ray control, etc.) All very easy to use.
The headphones are wireless, light-weight, adjustable and very comfortable and very clear from my limited use. Kids will be the final verdict on that during our upcoming trip.
The ear-pieces fold flat or easier storage. They make no attempt to muffle outside sound, so I could see the kids "complaining" if mom and dad turn the music up too loud in the front seats while they are "trying to watch." One feature I would add in the future is an option to use wired headphones.
Well, I think that's about it for now. If anyone has any questions about anything, fire away. More pics to come soon.
Now I have to go off and pad my garage refrigerator door with some pipe insulation / water noodles. (Another great tip from this forum.) When going into our garage fridge, the edge of the fridge door can hit the D....
Yes, I am in the honeymoon period here...but absolutely no buyer's remorse whatsoever!