The third generation Dacia Duster is everything that all other modern crossovers are not
Value for money has always been Dacia’s goal, and this one costs less than $20,000…in Europe, at least.
It has been around for more than a decade, but Europe’s answer to the question of honesty and goodness cheap The SUV just got a major overhaul for its third generation. The Dacia Duster is now moving a little more luxuriously and sees a more aggressive design to maintain its appeal for the European market, but here’s the bottom line: This latest version comes in at just €17,990 for the base version, or just under $20,000.
So, what we have here is a truly inexpensive SUV that offers a functional package without the bells and whistles and the inevitable high price tags. The Duster’s overall size is unchanged from the last model, still measuring 171 inches long, 71 inches wide and 65 inches high.
In terms of what vehicle we Americans can actually buy (more on that below), it’s a bit smaller than a Toyota Corolla Cross. As with most modern crossover designs, the new Dacia has an upright front fascia, bumpers and lighting elements that emphasize width, making the car appear larger than it actually is, compared to the larger SUVs we prefer here in North America.
Although it’s as basic as the new Dacia Duster inside, it also has a 6-speed manual transmission! -This latest generation model improves things on technology. Drivers get the option of a 10.1-inch infotainment screen, as well as a large digital instrument cluster. The three-spoke steering wheel still contains most of your basic functions like cruise control and media buttons, and there are some nice amenities like heated seats, steering wheel, and even a windshield de-icer.
Underneath, the new Dacia Duster is still based on the same Renault CMF-B platform as the Clio hatchback, and there are three powertrain options. The 1.2-liter engine starts out at 130 horsepower. It’s connected to a 48-volt mild-hybrid system and sends power to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission (all-wheel drive is optional). The larger hybrid model produces 143 horsepower from a 1.6-liter engine and two electric motors, and there is another engine that Dacia has yet to get into technical details about. However, given its size, production and price, think of it as a more affordable version of a Chevy Trax or Trailblazer.
Would you buy this piece of low-frills forbidden fruit?
The Romanian-made Duster will go on sale across Europe soon. We won’t be able to buy it in America, of course, but this is one car we’d love to try in TFL’s fleet. Like the Suzuki Jimny, Dacia’s popular SUV is meaningless these days. It doesn’t even have a low-range transfer case, but at least you can get it with all-wheel drive and it has decent (moderate) off-road credentials. The Duster has a ground clearance of 8.5 inches and has very good approach and departure angles of 31 and 36 degrees, respectively.
In an age where the Ford Bronco Sport starts at more than $33,000 for the base model, a sub-$20,000 price tag is certainly nothing to scoff at.