AFFORDABLE, LUXURY, & POWER – Dodge Durango Citadel HEMI:

Could This Be The Perfect All-Around Three-Row SUV?

The current generation of Dodge Durango (codenamed WD) made its debut in 2011, with big and positive reviews. Many Mopar fans were excited to see the popular nameplate go back to a more traditional styled SUV, rather than the oddly shaped second-generation model. The 2011 Dodge Durango was ready for competition, now that it had moved over to a shared platform with the formidable Jeep® Grand Cherokee (WK2).

New VS Old – 2014 Dodge Durango Limited (left) and 2021 Dodge Durango Citadel (right). (MoparInsiders).

After a quick mid-cycle-action (MCA) for the 2014 model year, the Durango got a fresh ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic transmission which made the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and 5.7-liter HEMI V8 options more responsive and balanced. The 2014 update also brought revamped front and rear styling elements including the now-famous “race-track” taillight design, updated interior, and a huge upgrade in the infotainment department.

Fast-forward to 2018, Dodge finally gave Durango fans what they had been asking for with the 6.4-liter HEMI V8-powered Durango SRT. The Durango SRT brought another update to Durango’s front-end styling and a new performance hood mimicking the Challenger SRT Hellcat’s design. Those elements would later be added to several models within the lineup.

Picking up the 2021 Dodge Durango Citadel from the dealer in November. (MoparInsiders).

Then came 2021, the Grand Cherokee was getting an all-new fifth-generation three-row model (Grand Cherokee L) and the Durango needed something to get it through the last few years of its life-cycle before it moves on to become a larger SUV (according to recent rumors). So how much did the Durango change in its most recent update? Well if you don’t know… significantly. 

New VS Old – 2014 Dodge Durango Limited (left) and 2021 Dodge Durango Citadel (right). (MoparInsiders).

While most of the sheet metal has stayed intact, everything else has been updated. Taking styling elements from the Challenger, Charger, and the Durango SRT, the 2021 Dodge Durango received all-new LED lighting, front fascia, and new Gloss Silver and Black trim colors. After years of living with a 2014 Dodge Durango Limited with the Pentastar V6, it was time for an upgrade. We ended up upgrading our Durango in both terms of trim and powertrains, with a Durango Citadel with the 5.7-liter HEMI V8. 

Picking up the 2021 Dodge Durango Citadel from the dealer in November. (MoparInsiders).

The 2021 Dodge Durango Citadel is the more luxurious model of the Durango lineup. But instead of throwing chrome trim on a Durango, the Dodge design studio added Platinum Chrome accents on the mirrors, rocker moldings, grille, emblems, and fog light surrounds, that isn’t as shiny as traditional chrome but adds a very premium feel to the vehicle. A new set of 20-inch “Satin Carbon” aluminum wheels, also helped to enhance the Citadel’s look. We were grateful to see an option for wheels other than black, which is become too familiar across all vehicle lineups these days.

At the rear of the vehicle, there aren’t many changes other than an update of the center high-mounted stop lamp (CHMSL) and a slight change in the shape of the spoiler to accommodate the lighting change.

2021 Dodge Durango Citadel HEMI. (MoparInsiders).

The interior is where the real surprises begin. Obviously, the entire instrument panel (I/P), dash, 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 that you immediately find that show how polished the 2021+ Durango models really are. 

Let’s take the door panels for instance. While they have the same styling as the pre-2021 models, there is a material change that is noticed as soon as you touch it. The door panel has a more solid feeling and doesn’t have any movement when you pull on it. The memory seat buttons are now integrated into the shape of the door styling and are now made from the same switchgear found in the Ram 1500 (DT) pickups. The Nappa leather-trimmed seats also feel soft and smell great. Our Citadel model is equipped with the Suede headliner, which really changes the look of the overall interior. The interior may appear to be darker, but it also feels much plusher.

2021 Dodge Durango Citadel HEMI. (MoparInsiders).

We also noticed that our 2021 Dodge Durango is quite a bit quieter than our 2014 model, even at speed with the HEMI V8. This may be due to the acoustic glass or maybe changes in sound deadening, but it is noticeably different.

2021 Dodge Durango Citadel HEMI. (MoparInsiders).

The thin-film-transistor (TFT) instrument display now has a bezel above the screen that follows the shape of the speedometer. Then there is 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 825-watt amplifier. The Harman Kardon system sounds awesome and is a must-have for those who are audiophiles. There are also the dual video screens that fold neatly into the backs of the front seats, something my kids absolutely love on those long car trips.

2021 Dodge Durango Citadel HEMI. (MoparInsiders).

Over the holiday season, we put some serious mileage on the Citadel and it has thoroughly impressed my wife and me. We recently purchased a 1970 Plymouth Duster parts car and decided to use the Durango to haul it. The integrated trailer brake controller worked perfectly and recognized the trailer was connected. All brake and electrical connections are displayed on the I/P and the manual controls are well within reach. The Trailer-Tow Package also brings 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 more than handled the weight of our aluminum tilt-deck trailer and the Duster easily.

2021 Dodge Durango Citadel HEMI. (MoparInsiders).

If you are considering a full-size three-row SUV and haven’t gone out and looked at the 2021 or 2022 Dodge Durango, you really should. While many of the changes are subtle, it surprised me how completely different this Durango looks and feels compared to the previous model that served us well with absolutely no major service issues after 155,000 miles. I expect this Durango will do the same for us. The Durango proves to be one of the best values in the segment, proving to give the all-new Grand Cherokee L a run for its money at a much more affordable price.

Stay tuned as we will continue to give updates on our ownership experience of the 2021 Dodge Durango Citadel. Don’t be surprised to be seeing 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:

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Mike Volkmann

Michael Volkmann, a mechanical engineer in the steel industry, autocrossed and road-raced Neons. Michael has drag raced his 1971 Duster 340, 2015 Dodge Charger SRT392, 2009 Challenger R/T, and Neons, of which he’s owned seven — one SRT4, three ACRs, and three Sport Coupes.

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