The Dacia Duster Is Simply Brilliant (and Affordable)

I won’t sugar coat it, new cars are expensive. Between unjustified insurance premiums and daylight robbery at the fuel pumps, driving is becoming unaffordable. Not to mention the growing demand for SUVs, which bumps up prices further. Thankfully, the Dacia Duster is a beacon of hope as a reliable SUV from £17,285. 

Well, a no-thrills version would be less than £18k, but higher trims are still affordable. I’m testing the Duster Journey with optional metallic Arizona Orange paint, which comes in at £20,445. Is it too good to be true? I don’t think so.

2023 Dacia Duster Journey First Impressions

Best Features

  • Keyless entry
  • LED signature lights
  • Rear parking sensors and reverse camera
  • Eight-inch Touchscreen
  • Cruise control
  • Heated front seats

Before laying eyes on the Duster, I imagined it would be plastic and cheap. After a bad experience driving a Dacia Sandero courtesy car a few years ago, I was filled with dread. It didn’t even have a radio. However, when this vibrant orange SUV arrived with its 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, chrome front grill and roof rails, I knew it had more to offer than the small car I drove previously. That said, it doesn’t offer much more in terms of performance.

Quick Info

Engine 1-litre TCe 90, Petrol
Transmission Six-speed manual
Horsepower90 HP @ 4,400–4,900 RPM
Torque160 Nm @ 2,200–3,750 RPM
Fuel Economy (CMB) 45.6 MPG
0-62 MPH13.1 Seconds
Top Speed103 MPH

Driving Impressions And Performance

Even though the Dacia Duster has a small engine and little power, it drives well. I never felt like it was struggling, and it didn’t scream at me when driving at 70 MPH on the motorway. In fact, I drove this car from Glasgow to Kelso and it was serene. The gearbox is smooth, the suspension is forgiving without being too soft, and the engine is quiet. Four-wheel drive is only available on the diesel model, however, it’s not needed most of the time.

Some of the roads I travelled had steep hills, but dropping a gear or two a gear makes the climb effortless. Perhaps my favourite part of this drive was the lack of distractions inside. It was plain, and simple, driving the whole way. This simplicity is key to reliability, with a 2014 Duster still going after half a million miles. You can’t argue with that.

Dacia Duster Fuel Economy

Dacia Duster MPG

Since the Duster has a small engine, it’s very efficient. If you plant your foot to the floor everywhere you go and slam the brakes late, it’ll kill the average MPG as the engine tries to follow. Though I imagine most drivers considering this car are sensible. Dacia claims a combined 45.6MPG. During my varied routes, I achieved 40.7 MPG, which is pretty close. I think the claimed figures could be reached easily.

EPA Rated Economy:45.6 MPG
Fuel Economy As Tested:40.7 MPG

Interior Design And Comfort

You get what you pay for inside the Duster. It’s not over the top, yet has a nice blend of materials. While most of the interior is plastic, the seats are cloth with DUSTER printed on them, and the doors wear some leather. There’s adjustable air vents, physical climate controls and switches for heated seats.

Front seats have a good range of movement, and rear passengers will be happy with comfortable seats, plenty of space, plus two charging ports.

Technology And Ease Of Use

Thankfully, this Dacia has a DAB radio. More so, it has an eight-inch touchscreen and built-in maps. Surprisingly, it also features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which can be paired through a wire for Google Maps. There’s two USB ports, but only one will charge your phone. The driver display behind the wheel looks old, but it shows everything you need to know. It’s also easy to toggle through using buttons on the steering wheel.

Another button on the steering wheel is for cruise control; a standard feature, along with a speed limiter. Adding to this, advanced driving assistance system are available. These include blind spot monitoring, hill start assist, hill descent control and four cameras around the car.

Cargo And Storage Space

Dacia Duster Boot Space

Of course, the Duster boasts a large boot. With 445 litres when all seats are in place, there’s more than enough space for the weekly shop, prams or other kit. This space can be increased by folding the 60/40 split rear seats to give up to 1,478 litres. Furthermore, underfloor storage is available if a spare wheel isn’t added.

Minimum Cargo Capacity445 Litres
Maximum Luggage space1,478 Litres

Should You Buy A Duster?

In conclusion, the Dacia Duster is ideal for families with young kids who need extra space on a budget. It’s cheap to buy, insure and run, plus it’s reliable. The smooth gearbox with six gears makes a great drive. Inside is comfortable with a nice mix of textiles together with a modern touchscreen, but there’s plastic everywhere. Even so, I’d recommend the Duster as a practical vehicle to fit your needs. Having said that, the MG HS is another affordable SUV to consider.

Dacia Duster Dimensions

Exterior Dimensions

Length4,341 mm
Width2,052 mm
Height1,693 mm
Wheelbase2,673 mm
Curb Weight1,313 kg

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