Home / Auto News / News article: 2014 Three-Row Crossover Comparison Test - AutoGuide.com News
 |  Mar 26 2014, 11:32 AM

2nd Place Dodge Durango Citadel AWD

Dodge Durango 

The Dodge Durango is the best vehicle in the test; no question about it. So why then did it end up in second place? Well, two reasons – price and fuel economy. Like the Ford Explorer, the Dodge Durango came loaded up with virtually every option possible, pushing the as tested price to $53,660. That is a lot of money for a family hauler and the Durango is flirting with luxury crossovers at this price point.

Luckily, the Dodge has the substance to back up that price. It can be best summed up in two words – big and smooth. It has the smoothest engine, smoothest transmission and smoothest ride. It boasts the most power, the most number of gears, the heaviest curb weight, the highest price and greatest thirst for fuel. At an observed 16.7 MPG average, the Durango easily took the crown as least efficient vehicle.

Fantastic Drivetrain, Rich Interior2014-Dodge-Durango-02.jpg

All that fuel is used to power a 360 hp 5.7-liter Hemi V8 pumping out 390 lb-ft of torque. Not only does this engine provide plenty of low end torque, it also sounds great thanks to a subdued V8 burble. The Durango is also heavy and with 5,397 lbs. to lug around and because of that, the power doesn’t feel all that spectacular even with the smooth shifting eight-speed automatic transmission.

More than just a great drivetrain, the Durango excels in many other facets. It has one of the most comfortable, sophisticated suspensions, an elegant interior, fantastic leather seats, the test’s highest rated third row seats, ultra-comfortable second row buckets and the best damn infotainment system on the market today.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Dodge Durango Review

Not everything is perfect in this Dodge though, the upper portion of the front seats feel like a wooden board and the fit and finish is just OK. For example, the volume and tuning dials in our test vehicle felt loose.

The Durango Citadel really is a class above in this comparison test, but it is also priced that way. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. If the absolute best vehicle, with the most comfortable seats and nicest drivetrain is all that matters, here is your crossover. If $53 grand seems a bit steep, scroll down and check out the more affordable overall winner.

Fast Facts:2014-Dodge-Durango-03.jpg

  1. PRICE AS TESTED: $53,660
  2. ENGINE: 5.7-liter V8, 360 hp, 390 lb-ft
  3. TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
  4. OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 16.7 MPG
  5. CARGO CAPACITY (behind second row): 47.7 cu. Ft.

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE IT

  • Power
  • Interior
  • Rear seats
  • Ride comfort

 

 

 

 

LEAVE IT

  • Price
  • Fuel economy

 

1st Place – Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD

 2014-Hyundai-Santa-Fe-03

Hyundai has always built value packed vehicles and the three-row Santa Fe is no different. At a price of $41,275, the vehicle comes with heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, navigation, a power lift gate and a massive panoramic sunroof.

It appears the manufacturer has tapped into the secret formula that Japanese brands have been using for decades to make vehicles just the way consumers want them. Like the Highlander, the Santa Fe was not a standout in many categories, but never faltered either. The only section during the entire comparison test that the Santa Fe scored highest in was the important easy to drive category; a score that can be attributed to the Santa Fe’s car-like driving characteristics.

Does Everything Right2014-Hyundai-Santa-Fe-01.jpg

Otherwise, the Hyundai ranked in the top half of most categories like ride quality and NHV. Power comes from a 3.3-liter V6 rated at 290 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque. It’s more than enough to motivate the 4,297-lb vehicle, but it doesn’t accelerate as energetically as its corporate cousin from Kia. Like the Sorento, observed fuel economy in the Santa Fe was near the top of the comparison with a 21.2 MPG average.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Review – Video

The interior layout of the Santa Fe was well-liked by most staff members, especially the brown leather seats. Front seat comfort ranked high and most testers found an optimal driving position without issue. The second row seats were adequate, but the third row leaves a bit to be desired. Another downside is that Limited-trimmed versions of the Santa Fe like our test vehicle are only available with second row captain’s chairs. If you need to carry more than six people, the Highlander is a better choice.

Hyundai really has taken a page out of Toyota’s play book and created a vehicle that does everything well enough, is efficient and doesn’t offend in any way. Add in a low price point as well as Hyundai’s formidable warranty and the Santa Fe squeaks out a narrow victory as the champion of three-row crossover utility vehicles.

 

Fast Facts: 2014-Hyundai-Santa-Fe-04.jpg

  1. PRICE AS TESTED: $41,275
  2. ENGINE: 3.3-liter V6, 290 hp, 252 lb-ft
  3. TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
  4. OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 21.2 MPG
  5. CARGO CAPACITY (behind second row): 40.9 cu. Ft.

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE IT

  • Price
  • Content
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Easy to drive

 

 

 

 

LEAVE IT

  • Third row space
  • Limited only seats six

 

Categorical Breakdown

score-sheet

  • Rickers

    This is total bullshit. No Hyundai deserves to win anything.

  • Honest Abe

    I’m seriously shocked. Not by the winner.. but by the Dodge Durango. I didn’t even know they still made it… and now I find out it’s actually good. Shocking.

  • Juan

    Where’s the Mazda CX-9? I demand a re-do.

  • Chris

    Then you haven’t been paying attention to Hyundai in the last few years. They’ve worked extremely hard to improve their offerings and it’s showing.

  • Todd

    I love weighted tests like this. Had Dodge chosen a cheaper durango with a V6 and less fancy features, it wouldn’t have been nearly as high on the list. Lets take a comparison of these same vehicles after 3 or 4 years of ownership (half the “lifetime” of todays cars). The Koreans will rattle like they are falling apart, the Japanese will still be trucking, and the Americans will have all of their fancy features failing.

  • Richard

    Actually, I owned a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport for almost a year. But the
    larger “regular” Santa Fe comes with the V6. The problem with the Santa
    Fe Sport is the underpowered engine as no V6 is offered in the five seat
    version. Unless I am badly mistaken, the same Kia version is offered with a
    V6 which makes an enormous difference. I’ve seen the 2014 Kia, and
    personally, I prefer it over the Hyundai. It is noteworthy that Kia
    assembled my Santa Fe. I don’t believe there are that many differences
    really. Check their dimensions, etc., on an Edmund’s comparison page
    and it is fairly obvious they are essentially the same vehicle.

  • http://batman-news.com kevin monette

    Todd, today’s american vehicles are much better than they were just 10 years ago. I replaced my loaded 2005 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD CC Diesel last year with a new version of the same pickup, the 2005 having over 120,000 miles on it. I had no issues with any of the “fancy features”, everything in and on it still worked as new. That was easily the best vehicle I have ever owned, even less maintenance than our BMW 328 Xi.

  • Todd

    I have a “newer” GM, an 05 Avalanche Z71. It had a cushy life with little to no towing, hauling or 4WD usage. I put a transmission in it @105K…same 3-4 clutch problems that the 4L60E has had since it was the 700-R4 in my 85 Camaro. The sunroof doesn’t work and the leather seats were replaced because of cracking. The drivers side window switch has a life of its own and frequently turns on the seat heaters at will (adj pedals and seat heaters are run through the window switch). The quality is better, but still doesn’t match the japanese. Of course, not nearly as bad as my 2013 Jetta TDI where the sunroof has been fixed at the dealer twice already…

  • http://batman-news.com kevin monette

    That’s rather interesting as my ’05 Silverado would have utilized many of the same parts as your Avalanche as far as the seats and window switches go and I had just the opposite experience with mine. No tranny issues whatsoever with regular towing of both a large four season travel trailer and also a 20′ enclosed snowmobile trailer however comparing the Allison tranny to the 4L60E is not at all apples to apples.

  • mike

    mom jeans ftw

  • mike

    We just bought our second Flex. Too bad you chose the Explorer…or is that all Ford would provide?

    Didn’t read the article since it didn’t include the D471. Not sure why I even received an email telling me about this since I never signed up for your site.

    EcoBoost V-6!

  • mike

    Hyundais and Kias should never be left out of the trailer parks in which their owners live…

  • Rickers

    Too bad the Chevy Traverse is 10 years old then.. lol.

  • J Mac

    But the Flex is so… well… UGLY!

  • Sargegxp

    Avalanche still the best

  • Sargegxp

    Right on!!

  • Sargegxp

    Maybe you need to see a doc Korean vehicles may look good from the specs but fail in every category

  • Sargegxp

    Best reply award.

  • MeetTerry

    Did you own the 2.4L? I drive the 2.0 Turbo model, and the 274 rated horsepower is extremely peppy.

  • MeetTerry

    How do they fail in every category?
    But alright. You can believe whatever you want. but CarMD has already rated Hyundai to be the most reliable manufacturer.

  • alexmcyd

    I would like to see a test where minivans are mentioned without the reference to the inane “soccer mom’s hate it” meme. The Honda Odyssey blows these overweight, overly expensive dinosaurs into the weeds in every element you tested. Better driving, handling, better use of space, better sightlines, hugely better mileage, quieter, faster – no contest. Put away your pre-conceived bias and minivans totally own crossovers.

  • Materialman

    The Explorer was highly touted but is a bust.

  • ColumWood

    @alexmcyd:disqus You’re going to love our upcoming 2014 Odyssey review!

  • catinpa

    I don’t understand why on most of the leave it lists are the second and third row. That is the main reason my mother is looking for a vehicle like this. Is that recommendation based on the fact there is no leg room and it is a waste of space? The one she is looking at didn’t even make your list.

  • Shannon Hummell

    If the Hyundai sante fe XL is on the list then the 2014 Outlander should be on there as well….

  • DqsPoster

    @alexmcyd

    We live in CA and have a Sienna and a HiHy and they serve different needs.

    Can the Odyssey or the Sienna or the Quest handle say the 30-mile Titus Canyon drive to Death Valley National park? Can they make it to the Racetrack? Green Water Valley Road? West Side Drive? How about mountain dirt roads with nasty pot holes and ruts in the Sierras? We have seen vans slowing to a snail’s crawl trying to negotiate deep holes and ruts. Both on BLM, NPS and NFS land? These are roads we often must navigate to reach trail heads.

    In the mountains, how about plowing through 6- to 8-inches of snow blocking our driveway on snowy wintery days?

    The van is wonderful on dry paved surface or rain or a little ice and snow. A van simply cannot handle any High-Clearance roads for active families who venture off the beaten paths. None of these crossover are 4x4s, so they are not rock crawlers or mud-plowers but they can go places where only High-Clearance car is needed.

    Hope that helps.

  • Belinda Richards

    Why was a V8 Citadel tested instead of a V6 Limited? You know, to give more credibility and accuracy to your comparison by having all vehicles be as similar as possible? Gotta love grossly weighted reviews like this.

  • ColumWood

    @belindarichards:disqus You make an excellent point and the real answer is simple: that’s the only one Dodge would give us. In many ways the factors even themselves out. The V8 Citadel gets extra marks for features, looks and performance, but loses marks for efficiency and price. We actually thought about dropping it entirely from the comparison, however, the as-tested price is barely more than the Ford Explorer’s.

  • ColumWood

    All of the vehicles listed have sufficient 2nd row legroom for adults, however, some aren’t OVERLY spacious – like the Traverse or Pilot are. We only listed the Pathfinder and Explorer as having less than ideal space for adults in the 2nd row. However, if we listed 3rd row space as a LEAVE IT then in that case, the area is really too small for adults. (I’m glad you brought this up, a clarification of our methodology would be a help for future comparisons like this).

  • ColumWood

    @shannonhummell:disqus We actually included the Outlander in our compact crossover comparison. While it is a 3-row crossover, the 3rd row is mostly useless. Check our the comparo here: http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2013/10/2013-2014-compact-crossover-shootout-toyota-rav4-vs-honda-crv-vs-chevy-equinox-vs-subaru-forester-vs-hyundai-santa-fe-sport-vs-mazda-cx5-vs-jeep-compass-vs-mitsubishi-outlander.html

  • alexmcyd

    That goes to show how much an SUV is needed for SUV type duties. I’m guessing that a true SUV with do even better than these at that purpose.
    For this test none of those functions were tested or evaluated.

  • TractorDriver

    So the winner of the 3-Row Crossover Test scored near the bottom in: Rear Seat; Third Seat and Cargo Usability!?
    You as the tester need to work harder to acquire more comparable vehicles, and if you can’t then you need to adjust your scoring accordingly.

  • autoguide

    You make a great point! This is why we include our rankings for each vehicle in each category. It allows the reader to examine the data and come to their own conclusions. Someone who values 3rd row space over fuel economy could definitely come to a different conclusion than we did.

  • ImNotTheWalrus

    The Hyundai rides like a garbage truck

  • ImNotTheWalrus

    I agree might be the best drivers SUV out there

  • bd

    Must not have much experience with the newer Japanese models.

  • bd

    Hardly the 1st time a Hyundai (much less the Santa Fe) has won a comparison test.

  • bd

    Except, Toyotas tend to have a lower ATP across the board.
    The Camry, for instance, has a lower ATP than the Chrysler 200 whereas the Kia Optima has one of the highest ATPs in the segment.
    So sorry, it’s Toyotas that are filling the trailer parks (as well as rental fleet lots).

  • bd

    Apart from the not being true thing.

  • Mike

    I’d take the Toyota hands down. First, Toyota has the world’s best resale on their vehicles(for a reason-QUALITY) , and second they are the most dependable, long lasting vehicles. Consumer Reports just did a 12 yr quality comparison of ALL makes, and of course Toyota led the pack. They always do. The Subarus and Hondas did not even come close. Educated buyers always go with a Toyota or a Lexus. And almost all Toyota models are made in America with largely American made parts. Forget Government Motors and Ford, who both have been backsliding in quality the past year and a half. Kia and Hyundai will give anyone a vehicle, regardless of their credit. What does that tell you about their vehicles? Their quality is also mixed.

  • TJ

    I wont debate Toyota, as they have proven them selves as a manufacture, but I love it how people always put Kia and Hyundai’s quality into question. Have you ever owned one? I have two and one of them is ten years old with 120,000 miles, my local mechanic does a “wish list” when he looks at cars, basically a list of things that are going bad or need to be replaced. My car has a cracked headlight assembly on that list and nothing else. Sure when Kia and Hyundia first came to the US their cars werent that good and had issues, they have since fixed that. Thus the 10 year 100k warranty, that you can even extend past that. They learned from Deawoo, maybe own before you judge. I will never own a Toyota because of the people that drive them in my town.

  • TJ

    I’d say if you see someone at a gas station with one you have been looking at ask them, or go test drive them for yourself. A test drive does not commit you to anything. Though this test wasn’t very good, it is what they decided they liked, neither of those gentlemen looked like soccer moms and probably would never use the 3rd row.

  • Mike

    Actually TJ my other half owns a new Kia Sportage and loves it. I see all the cost cutting inside. Built nothing like my Toyota. And while I agree they have increased their quality by a wide margin, they are VERY behind Toyota in regards to quality. Pick up this month’s copy of Consumer Reports and see how they are fairing. Not much better than GM or Ford. Their quality has been slipping. Not a hater, but I buy the things that are going to last me the longest. You and my partner both live their Kia/Hyundai automobiles, and that’s all that matters. I’m not making the payments. We should all drive what we want to. Stay well!

  • Fred2202350

    Although one poster does talk about how these vehicles handle rougher roads in parks and back in the hills (NOT off-road) in a way minivans can’t, for the huge majority of buyers, I’d hark back to one major car mag’s comparison test, which ended one paragraph in which it described some characteristic lacks that only a few SUV’s avoided, with something like “I think its time we admit this (3-row SUV’s) is a bogus category for 95% of buyers. They need a minivan but their vanity won’t let them buy one”. I’ve got a 10 year-old Mazda MPV and I really don’t know what will replace it some day. There’s nothing that size that will do everything it does as reasonably anymore.

  • bd

    LOL!
    Toyota has done more cost-cutting inside (compare the interior of the Optima to the Camry).
    And reliability differs (good that for Toyota that these reliability studies don’t take into account recalls) – for AutoBild, which not only looks at service records, but even disassembles vehicles, Hyundai has been no. 1 for the past 2 years).
    Furthermore, when was the last time Toyota has launched a new powertrain? Same goes for Lexus where the IS, GS and LS are soldiering on with outdated powertrains (easy to be reliable mechanically when you don’t make any major changes).
    Toyotas today are being sold on price (deep discounting).

  • bd

    Not the 1st time the Santa Fe has come 1st in a comparison test – the Santa Fe/ SF Sport have usually finished near if not at the top in a no. of comparison tests – so not out of the ordinary.

  • Mike

    Whatever makes you feel better. Consumer Reports goes back 12 yrs and a Hyundai or a Kia is nowhere near a Toyota in long term reliability. Keep your Hyundai/Kia in your trailer park. They’ll give a surprime loan to anybody dumb enough to buy their vehicles. ANYBODY. And good luck on that resale value which is beyond HORRID.

  • Shiratori1

    Yeah, it’s official: you are nothing but an astroturfer and a shill for Kia/Hyundai. What a loser……..

  • Shiratori1

    Keep on trolling, astroturfer…….

  • Shiratori1

    How many people who own suvs/crossovers have to deal with these conditions on a consistent basis? Hint: very few

  • Phil

    Point is, kia and hyundai are still nowhere near as reliable as the leading japonese brands. Fact!

  • bd

    Good thing for Toyota that recalls aren’t included in reliability studies and when was the last time Toyota updated their power/drive-trains?
    At one time, Buicks were at the top of reliability surveys since GM didn’t make any changes to them.
    And AutoBild, which looks at actual service records, as well as disassembling vehicles themselves, has had Hyundai ranked no.1 for reliability the past 2 years.

  • bd

    Yeah, like all the auto-publications haven’t noted the cost-cutting that Toyota has done.
    Compare Toyota to Honda (or Mazda these days) – it’s not even close.
    And ooh – the ad hominem attacks (talk about being a loser…)

  • Shiratori1

    Keep on trolling buddy. You are still a shill and an astroturfer nonetheless.

  • Santiago Vo

    Two of my neighbors replaced their new Hyundais within first two years of ownership and swore not to buy them again, ever.

  • ColumWood