What's the used Dacia Duster 4x4 like?
Aside from some subtle differences in taste, a regular tin of value-brand baked beans does much the same job as the Heinz alternative; the biggest difference between the two is the price.
The same is true of the Dacia Duster, which does all the same things other family SUVs do, just more cheaply. And while you wouldn’t buy second-hand tinned food, you can buy a second-hand version of this second-generation Duster and save even more over its main rivals.
Engines: Powering the Duster is a range of three petrol engines and one diesel, most of which can be found with or without four-wheel drive. The non-turbocharged, 113bhp 1.6 SCe petrol engine looks okay on paper, but its limited torque often leaves you without much get-up-and-go for overtaking.
Mercifully, this engine was replaced a year after this generation of Duster was launched, by a turbocharged 99bhp 1.0-litre petrol with significantly more torque to pull the car along. The turbocharged 128bhp or 148bhp 1.3-litre petrols are far better, managing to be both smooth and reasonably refined for what is a budget car.
The 113bhp 1.5-litre diesel isn’t a hugely powerful engine, but it's quiet enough to fade into the background hum of road noise at high speeds and there’s enough punch for a quick burst of acceleration. Its additional torque also comes in handy for low-speed manoeuvres when navigating obstacles off road.
Speaking of going off road, four-wheel-drive models are very capable if you decide to leave sealed roads behind. You can lock the car into four-wheel drive via a dial near the gearlever and the traction control system manages the brakes, stopping wheels from spinning and ensuring that power is sent to those wheels that have grip. Four-wheel-drive cars also have more sophisticated rear suspension which is more supple over bumps than that of regular front-wheel-drive cars.
Ride and handling: On the road, the Duster is predictable enough, with light, slow steering, undemanding control weights for the gearlever and clutch, and a decent ride on smaller wheels (or when equipped with four-wheel drive). It doesn’t have that last degree of finesse that you’d get from other family SUV rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai, Seat Ateca and VW Tiguan – but then it was a lot cheaper than all of those when new.
Interior and practicality: Interior quality leans further into the car's utilitarian, rough-and-ready persona and is far from luxurious. It’ll stand up to the most abusive of toddlers, but the materials look and feel ancient compared to rivals. There are no soft-touch plastics of any kind in the Duster.
Space is very good, though; four adults should have few complaints about longer journeys and you can even take five – at a pinch.
Boot capacity is excellent, and the depth of it means you’ll need to carry exceptionally long items without having to fold the rear seats down. Just be aware that four-wheel-drive models have slightly less cargo capacity due to the extra mechanical components needed to give it four driven wheels.
Trims and equipment: Equipment levels are very stingy on lower trim levels, with the entry-level Access not even getting a stereo system. You’ll need to step up to Essential for that and air-con, while mid-spec Comfort gets a touchscreen infotainment system, rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera, cruise control, 16in alloy wheels and electric rear windows. Prestige models add climate control, blindspot warning and a surround-view camera system, while Techroad models have privacy glass and some exterior and interior styling tweaks.
One of the biggest downsides with the Duster is that, next to similar-priced used rivals, it doesn't have the greatest Euro NCAP safety rating. The Dacia Duster was awarded only three stars out of a possible five, whereas rivals such as the Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai both got the full five stars.
What used Dacia Duster 4x4 will I get for my budget?
Prices for a used example of this second-gen Duster start at around £10,000 for a good 2018 1.6 Sce Comfort version. Spend between £10,000 and £12,000 on a good 2019 or 2020 model, or between £12,000 and £15,000 on a 2021 car. Look to spend around £15,000 to £18,000 on a 2022 car and a fraction more than that on a 2023 one.
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How much does it cost to run a Dacia Duster 4x4?
Despite the low cost to buy, not all engines in the Duster line-up are inexpensive to run. The 1.6-litre petrol has a WLTP combined fuel economy figure of just 36.7mpg, which isn’t particularly good. This is probably why it was replaced by a turbocharged 1.0-litre that has a much better rating of 49.5mpg. The more popular 1.3 TCe exists in 128bhp and 148bhp forms; both manage 47.0mpg, but four-wheel drive knocks the higher-powered version back to 44.4mpg.
The two diesels are the economy stars with 64.2mpg for the front-wheel-drive car and 60.1mpg for the four-wheel-drive model.
The two diesels put out the least amount of CO2, with figures of 115g/km for the 4x2 and 123g/km for the 4x4. This is then followed by the 1.0 TCe at 126g/km, while both the 128bhp and 148bhp versions of the 1.3 TCe emit the same amount of greenhouse gases at 137g/km. Unless it comes with 4x4; then it's 140g/km.
As expected, the thirstiest 1.6 SCe petrol is the worst for emissions at 149g/km for the 4x2 and 158g/km for the 4x4.
All Dusters will be charged under the current road tax system. The current rate is £180 per year. But because no Dacia costs more than £40,000 when new, all will escape the additional fee applied to such expensive vehicles. To find out more about the current road tax costs, click here for further information.
The fixed-price monthly servicing plan Dacia offers customers of its new cars isn’t transferable to subsequent owners, but even so, maintenance costs are pretty reasonable.
An entry-level 1.6 SCe Access model will sit in insurance group 8, while a top-spec diesel Prestige will be in 15. This is a fair bit lower than rivals such as the Seat Ateca and Kia Sportage, although, in fairness, both of these can be had with more powerful engines.
Which used Dacia Duster 4x4 should I buy?
Unless you must have four-wheel drive, there isn’t much point going beyond the 128bhp 1.3 TCe model.
Of those four-wheel-drive models available second-hand, the majority use the old 1.6-litre petrol and are rather expensive to run. We’d advise you try finding a diesel model instead, because it’s nicer to drive, both on and off road.
The Duster is supposed to be a value offering and the hard interior plastics hamper the feeling of luxury, so we’d stick with mid-range Comfort trim for the best value for money.
Our favourite Dacia Duster: 1.3 TCe 128bhp Comfort
What alternatives should I consider to a used Dacia Duster 4x4?
There aren’t many rivals at this price to challenge the Dacia Duster, particularly if you need a rugged four-wheel-drive car of this size.
However, if you just want a practical five-seat SUV, the Kia Sportage has much more equipment, a far plusher interior and a longer warranty for a similar amount of money. It’s also a very dependable car, according to our reliability data.
For a bit more money, you could own a better-handling Seat Ateca. The boot is similarly sized, and you’d be hard-pressed to notice a difference in interior space. There’s a much more intuitive infotainment system to use, too.
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