Dacia Duster 4x4 driving position
The Duster provides the lofty driver's perch that you might expect from a family SUV. Some might struggle to find a comfortable driving position, though, because a lack of space to the left of the clutch pedal means you have to drive with your left foot drawn further back than your right – an awkward posture for long journeys. Entry-level cars also miss out on driver’s seat height adjustment, but at least the steering wheel adjusts for both height and reach.
The seats, meanwhile, are comfortable enough but don't offer much lateral support.
On the upside, the dashboard is about as complicated as a knife and fork, with simple rotary heater dials and clearly labelled stereo buttons.
Dacia Duster 4x4 visibility
The Duster’s elevated driving position helps to provide a good view forward, but its upswept rear windows and thick rear pillars hinder over-the-shoulder vision slightly.
Unfortunately, the rather limited equipment list for lower trim levels means you can forget about any visibility aids, but Comfort trim includes electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera. Meanwhile, top-of-the-range Prestige cars gain a multi-view rear camera and blind spot detection.
Dacia Duster 4x4 infotainment
The entry-level Access model doesn’t even have a radio – just some wiring and a slot to fit one – so there are minimal controls to acquaint yourself with.
Next-rung Essential variants gain a user-friendly Bluetooth system and a radio that’s linked to remote controls mounted on the steering column. There are also USB and Aux sockets for media players, but these are attached to the stereo in a way that leaves wires are dangling untidily when in use.
You'll need to jump up to Comfort trim if you want a touchscreen infotainment system, and its 7.0in setup feels quite old-fashioned next to the best systems out there, both in terms of graphics and usability. It's simple to use when stationary but trickier when driving, due to the absence of physical buttons. It's decent for the price, and offers sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, but it isn't anywhere near as sophisticated as those in family SUVs such as the Skoda Karoq and Seat Ateca. It's also mounted a little lower than we'd like. Top-spec Prestige models get the same 7.0in system.
Dacia Duster 4x4 build quality
Despite an interior upgrade, wherever you look there’s no escaping the fact that the Duster is built to a price. It lacks many of the cosmetic touches we’ve come to expect from modern cars. The plastics are hard – you could probably exfoliate your elbow on the door trim – and look unappealing, the carpets are insubstantial and the trim is, frankly, rather low-rent.
The switchgear is also quite dated and feels unsophisticated to use. Much of it comes from older Renault models, so it’s no surprise that, in many ways, the Duster feels like a car at least 10 years behind the times.
Obviously, none of this will be a problem if you simply view your Duster as a utilitarian workhorse. The car does at least feel solidly screwed together and sturdy. In fact, this is a car that’s sold globally and is built to withstand tough treatment in countries where road conditions are much poorer than in the UK.