Dacia Duster (2017-2024) Review & Prices

The Dacia Duster is a very affordable SUV that offers more space than most alternatives, but it’s not exactly sophisticated or stylish

Buy or lease the Dacia Duster (2017-2024) at a price you’ll love
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RRP £17,295 - £24,445 Avg. Carwow saving £1,387 off RRP
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Cash
£17,079
Monthly
£229*
Used
£9,150
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wowscore
6/10
Reviewed by Carwow after extensive testing of the vehicle.

What's good

  • Very cheap to buy
  • Roomy cabin
  • Efficient engines

What's not so good

  • Feels pretty basic inside
  • Doesn't handle all that well
  • Disappointing safety score

Find out more about the Dacia Duster (2017-2024)

Is the Dacia Duster a good car?

The Dacia Duster is a back-to-basics small SUV that doesn’t try to wow you with gimmicks. If all you want is fuss-free family transport and a bit of off-road ability, it’s brilliantly fit-for-purpose.

It’s a bit like buying your kids’ clothes from Primark; yes, there are more fashionable and higher quality alternatives, but if you aren’t bothered about the name on the label and your kids will just make a mess of their clothes anyway, why pay more?

This low-cost approach hasn't changed despite a few styling tweaks in 2021 and a redesigned front end in 2022 that give it some smart details, even if the overall appearance is one of simple ruggedness over school run flashness.

In its entry-level Essential form, the Duster is basically the knife and fork of the automotive world – it’s pretty easy to get your head around. It’s much cheaper than any comparable SUV alternative, and while you do now get air-con, a DAB radio and cruise control, it’s not exactly laden with tech. The model you actually want is the mid-spec Expression, which is a reasonably equipped Duster at a value-for-money price.

Sure, there are still plenty of hard, scratchy plastics dotted about the cabin, but at least you get some flashier chrome trims, more supportive front seats and an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with built-in sat nav, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Not bad for such an affordable SUV.

Also winning the Dacia Duster some brownie points is its fairly roomy cabin. There’s more than enough space for tall adults to get comfy in the front and you get driver’s seat height and lumbar adjustment in all but the most basic Essential models.

Space in the back is pretty generous, too – there’s enough room for three adults to sit side-by-side and the Dacia Duster’s large side windows mean it feels less claustrophobic in the back than more style-led models such as the Nissan Juke.

The Duster’s boxy body means you also get quite a good-sized boot. There’s room for plenty of suitcases with the back seats up and a bike will fit with room to spare if you fold them down. Unfortunately, there’s an awkward step in the boot floor that makes it a pain to load very heavy boxes.

The Dacia Duster is an honest, sensible and likeable car, though the high-spec models lose some of the budget appeal

If you plan to pack your Dacia Duster’s boot to the brim on a regular basis or do lots of long journeys, go for the 1.5-litre diesel engine. It’ll return more than 50mpg in normal driving conditions and feels perky even at motorway speeds, but it’s a bit noisy at times.

There are also three turbo petrols that are great around town with the pick being the 130hp one, giving you decent acceleration with low running costs. If you plan on frequently going off road, the only 4×4 model is the 115hp diesel.

Dacia also offers a bi-fuel model that mixes petrol with LPG (basically natural gas that’s less than half the price of petrol). This is based on the lower-powered petrol engine, but it gets more power and a 50-litre second tank for the LPG. It’s still pretty slow, but when running on LPG it delivers more low-down urge and feels a bit perkier than the base engine.

If traipsing from school to supermarket sounds more like your thing, fear not. The Duster’s a doddle to drive thanks to its light controls, fairly comfortable suspension and the good visibility afforded by the large windows and raised driving position. Cruise control, which comes as standard on all models, helps to make long motorway journeys as relaxing as possible.

But even top-spec cars don’t come with as much safety kit as many other small family SUVs. For example, automatic emergency braking to help prevent avoidable collisions is noticeably absent from the Dacia Duster’s equipment list. As a result, it scored a poor three stars out of five when it was crash-tested by Euro NCAP in 2017.

So, the Dacia Duster makes a good budget buy if you’re after something practical and relatively cheap to run, but if safety and upmarket features are high on your list of priorities then you might want to look elsewhere. The Renault Captur, for example, costs just a few thousand pounds more but comes with significantly more equipment across the range.

Still, check out the latest offers and head over to our Dacia Duster deals section. Used Dacia Duster deals are also available at carwow, and you can browse other used Dacia stock, too. When it's time to sell your current car, you can also do that through carwow.

How much is the Dacia Duster?

The Dacia Duster (2017-2024) has a RRP range of £17,295 to £24,445. However, with Carwow you can save on average £1,387. Prices start at £17,079 if paying cash. Monthly payments start at £229. The price of a used Dacia Duster (2017-2024) on Carwow starts at £9,150.

Our most popular versions of the Dacia Duster (2017-2024) are:

Model version Carwow price from
1.3 TCe 130 Journey 5dr £19,776 Compare offers

The Duster is cheap, although not quite as cheap as it used to be. When it was first launched all those years ago, you could get a Duster for less than £10,000, but although the price made headlines, the entry-level car was so basic almost nobody wanted to buy one..

Nowadays you are looking at over £17,000 for the Essential with the least powerful 90hp petrol engine or bi-fuel option. At the opposite end of the range the 115hp 1.5-litre diesel 4x4 in Extreme spec costs almost £25,000. That’s still cheap compared with any diesel 4x4 of similar size and ability, although it does nudge the Duster away from bargain-basement territory.

Alternatives are tough to look at because of the Duster's price. The Volkswagen T-Cross starts at about £23,000, with the Renault Captur a fraction less than that. The Nissan Juke starts at just over £20,000. All feels a bit more upmarket than the Dacia, but the Duster will always win on value.

Performance and drive comfort

The Duster is reasonably comfortable when driving in town or on the motorway, but it's not much fun in corners

In town

The Duster makes a good car for short drives around town. You sit up nice and high, even with the seat on its lowest setting, and large windows give a good view all-round with no big blindspots to catch you out. It’s an easy car to drive, too, with light controls that take the strain out of parking.

Any of the petrol models are well suited to urban driving. The most powerful engine is paired with an auto ’box, whereas the other two have a six-speed manual. Although the auto makes life easy in stop-start traffic, it does push the price up a bit so we’d stick with one of the manuals unless your heart is set on an automatic.

The basic Essential model has rear parking sensors, but you need to step up to Expression to get a rear-view camera. Journey spec adds a multi-view camera system that gives you a decent view all around the car.

On the motorway

If you are going to cover a lot of miles on the motorway, you should consider the Blue dCi 115 diesel. Okay, we know diesel isn’t very popular anymore, but you’ll get much better fuel economy on a long drive than if you go for a petrol. The two-wheel-drive diesel returns an impressive 57.6mpg on the official combined cycle.

Whichever engine you choose, the Duster has a floaty feel at high speeds which could make passengers car sick if they are prone to feeling queasy. The Dacia just doesn’t feel as controlled and secure as small SUVs like the Ford Puma and SEAT Arona. It’s noisy at speed, too, so if you can stretch your budget there are better motorway cars.

On a twisty road

The Duster handles with the poise and balance of a half-deflated bouncy castle. Well, maybe that’s a bit harsh, but this is not a car that likes to be hustled down a twisty road.

Despite being quite small and light, the Duster is not a nimble car. It seems to pause to think for a moment before responding to the steering wheel or accelerator. Forget having fun, settle down to a sedate pace, and the Duster (and your passengers) will be a lot happier.

The entry-level petrol is a bit underpowered, so if you like to get a move on, the 130hp petrol is a lot better.

Space and practicality

There’s room for three adults in the back, but it could be easier to load heavy bags into the boot

You get plenty of head and legroom in the front of the Duster. Short or tall, you should be able to find a comfortable driving position, thanks to a steering wheel that adjusts for height and reach. The most basic model does without height adjustment for the driver’s seat, though, so be sure you are happy with the fixed height before choosing Essential over the other models.

Expression puts that right, adding height and lumbar adjustment to the relief of back-pain sufferers. It’s good to see lumbar adjustment included as standard on such an affordable budget car.

Choosing Expression or Journey models adds some practical features, too, including a centre console with a sliding armrest and over a litre of storage inside. Journey spec adds a light inside the glovebox, which is handy if you need to rummage inside at night.

All models have twin cupholders in the front, and the door bins are a decent size. However, if you want USB sockets in the front (who doesn’t?) make sure you choose an Expression or Journey model, which come with two sockets at the base of the centre console. In Essential cars there’s a 12v socket, so you’ll need a USB adaptor to charge your phone.

Space in the back seats

For a relatively small car, there’s decent space in the back of the Duster. Kneeroom is okay unless two tall people are sat one behind the other, and there’s plenty of headroom.

There’s a lot of space in the footwell, so you can travel with three in the back without being too uncomfortable.

Big windows give a good view out, so you don’t feel hemmed in or shut in the dark when you ride in the back of the Duster. If you’re travelling with young kids rather than teens or adults, the doors open nice and wide which really helps when fitting a bulky child seat. All three spec levels come with ISOFIX mounting points for the outer rear seats.

Boot space

The biggest problem with the Duster’s boot is that there’s a load lip which puts a strain on your back when lifting heavy bags into the car. Our second gripe is that if you fold the back seats down there’s a step to the floor, so you can’t easily slide luggage forwards.

On the other hand, the boot capacity is healthy at 445 litres for most models. That drops to 411 litres for the 4x4 with a tyre repair kit (or 376 litres with a spare wheel). That puts it some way behind the Renault Captur, though, which has up to 536 litres, though that drops to 422 litres if you push the rear seats back for extra leg room. The Volkswagen T-Cross is closer at 455 litres, or 385 litres with its rear seats pushed back – a feature you don't get on the Duster.

Once you've loaded up with stuff, you get hooks for bags and tie downs to stop luggage moving around. It’s a reasonably practical space, but could be better still with a lip-free entrance.

Interior style, infotainment and accessories

The infotainment system is okay for the price, but the Duster doesn’t have a stylish cabin

If you’re trading an older Duster for a new one, you’ll notice the new car is better finished than the previous model. This isn’t saying a lot though, as the older Duster wore its budget heart on its ragged sleeves.

Today’s car is solidly put together, but still features some fairly unappealing materials. There are a lot of hard plastic on show, and not a lot of flair to the design. The dashboard is a bit slab-sided and unappealing.

That goes double for the entry-level Essential model, which doesn’t even have a touchscreen infotainment system. You get a conventional stereo with an orange graphic display that looks like it belongs in the 1980s. It really does make the cabin look old-fashioned.

At least Expression and Journey spec cars come with infotainment. The 8.0-inch display is not the biggest, or the slickest. But then it would be a bit greedy to expect the last word in tech in a budget car like the Duster. The truth is, the Dacia system does the job, and it’s reasonably easy to use. In fact, having shortcut buttons to the side of the screen make it more simple to use while driving than some flasher systems in more expensive SUVs.

You’ll need to pay the extra for Journey spec if you want built-in sat nav, but unless you don’t own a smartphone that’s not really a big deal, is it? All but Essential cars have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so you can navigate using your phone. There are two USB ports in the centre console to keep your devices charged up.

Dacia isn’t big on offering optional extras – you choose the spec you want, but don’t have a lot of other decisions to make. Metallic paint and a spare wheel are the extras you can plump for, although the spare wheel isn’t available if you choose the bi-fuel model.

However, you can buy accessories like sidesteps and customisation stickers from your Dacia dealer.

MPG, emissions and tax

Not many manufacturers offer bi-fuel models any more, but if you are a fan of the lower running costs of filling up on LPG you’ll be pleased that Dacia continues to offer a dual-fuel Duster. This can run on either petrol or LPG, and emits 145g/km when running on unleaded and 127g/km when fuelled by LPG. Given that LPG costs considerably less than the price of petrol, the bi-fuel car isn’t a bad shout if your local forecourt sells the stuff.

The two-wheel-drive diesel matches the LPG car’s CO2 emissions of 127g/km. It will return 58.9mpg – much better than the dual-fuel car. The four-wheel-drive diesel isn’t quite so economical, but still returns 53.3mpg on the combined cycle.

Go for a petrol car, and fuel economy is near as makes no difference 45mpg for each, so it really doesn’t make a lot of difference to your fuel bill whether you go for a 90hp, 130hp, or 150hp car.

Whichever engine you do go for, Vehicle Excise Duty is fairly average in all, so not cheap but not extortionate. As a budget car, no Duster is priced over £40,000, so there’s no need to worry about the surcharge for more expensive cars even if you buy a range-topping Duster.

Safety and security

There’s no getting away from the Duster’s poor rating in Euro NCAP crash tests. It was awarded just three stars out of five when tested in 2017.

The Duster scored a disappointing 37% for driver assistance systems. One reason for this poor performance is the absence of an autonomous emergency braking system. This safety feature applies the brakes for an inattentive driver in an emergency, and most new cars are now fitted with this life-saving tech. The Duster doesn’t have it, even as an optional extra.

At least every car comes with driver, passenger, shoulder and curtain side airbags. If you’re after a safe, practical SUV, see how much you can save through carwow on the SEAT Ateca.

Only the higher-spec Journey and Extreme cars come with keyless entry, but all Duster models come with remote central locking.

Reliability and problems

Don’t go thinking that because Dacia is a budget brand you have to put up with second-rate reliability. The opposite is true, with Dacia embarrassing many more upmarket brands in recent reliability surveys.

The Duster is a relatively simple car, and perhaps lacking some of the latest high-tech features does the Dacia a favour – there’s less to go wrong.

Mechanically, Dacia uses Renault hand-me-downs. That’s no bad thing, as by the time the parent-brand lets Dacia have its engines and gearboxes they are typically a few years old, and any teething problems should have been ironed out.

Buy or lease the Dacia Duster (2017-2024) at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £17,295 - £24,445 Avg. Carwow saving £1,387 off RRP
Carwow price from
Cash
£17,079
Monthly
£229*
Used
£9,150
Ready to see prices tailored to you?
Compare new offers Compare used deals
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