Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The Dacia Duster range opens with the staggeringly affordable (but basic) Essential trim level, which massively undercuts the Seat Ateca and other rivals. Even mid-spec Comfort trim looks cheap next to the Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008 and Skoda Karoq. Only the MG ZS can come close to the Duster’s level of affordability.
The Duster pips the ZS for running costs, though. The diesel is reasonably fuel-efficient and should average more than 50mpg, while our recommended TCe 130 petrol engine can return more than 40mpg in everyday driving. The ZS 1.0T GDi would be nearer 39mpg. CO2 emissions also beat the ZS's – good news for company car drivers. Bear in mind that the four-wheel-drive version of the diesel is more expensive to buy and also brings higher fuel and company car tax bills.
It’s at least worth upgrading to our favourite Comfort trim, which adds 16in alloy wheels, heated electric door mirrors, a central armrest, a rear-view camera and the 8in touchscreen infotainment system.
Range-topping Prestige gets goodies such as 17in alloy wheels, automatic air conditioning, keyless entry and heated front seats, as well as a multi-view camera and sat-nav.
Dacia is owned by Renault, so many of the parts it uses are pinched from the French car maker. Believe it or not, though, the Duster beat the Renault Kadjar to finish in a very respectable joint fourth place (with the BMW X2) in the family SUV category of the 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey. That also puts it ahead of the Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008 and Skoda Karoq.