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In-depth reviews

Dacia Duster (2017-2024) review

The Dacia Duster is better than ever, and is possibly the best value SUV you can buy

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£15,409 to £23,655
  • Spacious interior
  • Value for money
  • Big boot
  • Poor safety rating
  • Cheap-feeling cabin
  • 4x4 reserved for top-spec model
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​The Dacia Duster offers such excellent value for money, you have to wonder why you’d ever spend the extra on a more expensive model. It’s not the most inspiring car to drive, and the interior is lacking in sparkle, but in just about every other respect the Duster is able to hold its own in an increasingly competitive market.

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The second-generation Duster received a facelift in 2021, with updates to its exterior design, interior trim and infotainment system all helping to keep it competitive, while Dacia continues to offer the option of all-wheel drive which means the Duster could be the best value proper off-road car on the market.

About the Dacia Duster

Car prices may be heading steadily upward, but the Dacia Duster is one of the biggest bargains out there. This SUV is equally at home taking on family car duties as it is at off-roading. There’s already a lot to like, but the fact that it only commands the same sort of purchase price as a supermini is the cherry on top.

Little wonder, then, that the first-generation Duster, introduced to the UK in 2012, forged a reputation for excellent value for money, earning itself a legion of loyal fans. The current second-generation Duster picked up where the old model left off, with improvements made in key areas.

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Visually, the second-gen Duster looks very similar to the old model – Dacia wasn’t going to mess with a winning formula. It’s more attractive and upmarket than before. It received further enhancements in a 2021 refresh, which included revised headlights, a new grille design, a rear spoiler, and some updated alloy wheel designs. The brand also updated its old shield logo in 2022 with the new “Dacia link” design that adorns the front grille and steering wheel, while ‘D A C I A’ lettering appears on the boot.

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Inside, improved upholstery, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, and electric rear windows are all welcome upgrades over the previous model. At the same time, mid- and top-spec cars add a practical 1.1-litre storage bin and armrest.

Although some additional trim levels have come and gone, the core Duster line-up comprises four levels: Essential, Expression, Journey and Extreme. Essential trim is the entry point to Duster ownership and includes 16-inch steel wheels, cruise control, air-con and Bluetooth. Expression, Journey and Extreme specifications add more luxuries and styling enhancements such as alloy wheels, an eight-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a rear-view camera.

Under the bonnet, you can choose from two pure-petrol engines or a factory-fitted LPG Bi-Fuel system. If you want diesel power, you must look into buying a used example with the discontinued 1.5-litre DCi engine. If you are buying brand-new, you’ll be able to pick from an 89bhp 1.0-litre TCe 90 unit or a 1.3-litre TCe with either 128bhp or 148bhp. 

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If you prefer the idea of Dacia’s Bi-Fuel setup, this is powered by the 99bhp TCe 100 engine. Make sure that an LPG pump is available near you, though, because it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find at filling stations.

The majority of the Duster range features a six-speed manual gearbox, except the 148bhp petrol model, which comes with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Frequently Asked Questions
The Dacia Duster offers excellent value for money thanks to its frugal engine range, chunky looks, spacious interior, and big boot.

Dacia Duster Expression TCe 130 long-term test

Our web producer, Pete Baiden, lived with the Dacia Duster for over six months as part of our long-term test fleet. During his time with this small SUV he found it to be a refreshingly straightforward car to have on his driveway. It accommodated his family in comfort, covered over 5,000 miles without a hitch, and he even found it quite fun to drive.

Pete also believes that the Dacia’s sub-£15,000 starting price makes it an ideal car for those in need of a ULEZ-compliant replacement. There were a few minor gripes, such as a faulty Apple CarPlay connection, but at this price point that shouldn’t detract from what is otherwise a great all-round family car. You can read the full long-term test here…

For an alternative review of the Dacia Duster, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk...

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