Dacia Duster (2012 – 2018) Review

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Dacia Duster (2012 – 2018) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
Overall, the Duster makes a mockery of the prices asked for rival SUVs. It’s not perfect, but you’ll get to enjoy the smug sense of satisfaction of having more money in your wallet.

Exceptional value for money – an SUV for the price of a small hatch, low running costs, hugely practical, large boot and spacious cabin.

Lacks the modern safety equipment that’s commonplace now, substandard interior quality with some very cheap touches, cheapest model lacks air-con and a radio.

Insurance Groups are between 5–13
On average it achieves 75% of the official MPG figure

The Dacia Duster is the UK’s cheapest SUV. It comes with a price tag that pitches it against premium city cars, with even the most expensive model costing less than an entry-level Ford Fiesta. Launched in 2012, the original Duster raised a few eyebrows thanks to its bullish pricing, Tonka toy styling and impressive practicality. Because it’s been superseded by a newer model, it’s even more of a bargain on the used car market. Although it can’t offer the overall quality and refinement of rivals like the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage, the Duster is a very easy car to recommend.

Looking for a Dacia Duster (2012 - 2018)?
Register your interest for later or request to be contacted by a dealer to talk through your options now.

Why spend tens of thousands of pounds on an SUV when you can buy one for the price of a city car? Although the Dacia Duster isn’t perfect, it gets the fundamentals of motoring spot-on, which makes it a compelling used car purchase.

Launched in 2012, this version of the Duster lived on until 2018, with facelifts in 2014 and 2016. Like the other models in the Dacia range, it grabbed the headlines thanks to its aggressive pricing and chunky styling.

But there’s more to the Duster than a cheap price. It’s one of the most spacious cars in its class, with a large boot and room for up to five adults. You sit high in the car, which gives you a commanding view of the road ahead, something that’s especially useful when driving in town. The light steering and easy-to-drive nature make it no more stressful to live with than a supermini or city car.

It has another ace up its sleeve: four-wheel-drive. Although the majority of Dusters leave the factory with front-wheel drive, a select group of individuals have discovered how capable it is as a 4x4.

Although it’s not going to challenge a Land Rover off-road, the Duster is leagues above the majority of its competitors when the going gets tough. Because it’s so cheap, you won’t mind if you have a little incident with a tree stump or gate post.

Back on the smooth stuff, the Duster isn’t the last word in refinement. It rolls when cornering and there’s plenty of wind and road noise when you’re on a motorway. But the soft suspension and raised ride height mean that it's surprisingly comfortable, especially if you opt for one of the higher trim levels.

We’d avoid the entry-level Access trim. Although the price tag is tempting, the absence of air-conditioning and a radio will make Duster hard to live with over the course of a PCP deal. A mid-range Duster would be a safer bet… if ‘safer’ is the right word.

Unfortunately, safety isn’t a Duster strong point. A three-star Euro NCAP safety rating puts the Dacia at a disadvantage alongside rivals with five-star ratings to their name. It’s not an unsafe car, it just lacks the driver assistance systems fitted to more modern rivals.

This aside, it’s easy to mount a case for the Dacia Duster. Alongside the cheap prices, the Duster should also be affordable to run, helped in no small part by the efficient petrol and diesel engines. The 1.5-litre dCi diesel is the star of the show, offering an excellent blend of performance and economy. For towing and long trips, it’s the ideal choice.

Elsewhere, the 1.2-litre turbocharged engine (badged TCe 125) bridges the gap between the petrol and diesel engines. It’s the unit to choose if you spend most of your time in the city.

Ask Honest John

Can you recommend a budget-friendly, reliable, no frills 4x4?
"We're looking for a second car. Something with no frills; a proper 4x4 (rural Highlands and Islands) with a raised driving position, reliable and preferably under £5000. We are considering an old Nissan X-Trail, Skoda Yeti, Mitsubishi Shogun and Suzuki Vitara. Would you recommend any of these or something different? Thank you."
You might find that second-hand Shoguns have led pretty hard lives and finding a good one can be difficult. Diesel X-Trails can be troublesome, while we've also had a lot of issues reported with Yetis. My money would go on a Suzuki Grand Vitara or Honda CR-V. Both ought to be very reliable choices. Also, consider a Dacia Duster if you're after a no-frills 4x4.
Answered by Andrew Brady
What automatic SUV should I buy on a £10,000 budget?
"I am looking for a small or medium automatic SUV 2012 or newer for under £10k. I do about 18-20k miles per year. What would you recommend? Is mileage a big factor as I appreciate for my budget it may be high. Should I raise my budget for lower mileage or if nothing is available for under £10k look at a smaller car with lower mileage?"
I'd recommend a SsangYong Tivoli. It's a good budget SUV and £10,000 will get you a 2016 model with the diesel engine and automatic gearbox. Also consider a Dacia Duster.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Can you recommend a 4WD vehicle that had a large boot?
"I am looking to swap my 2011 Land Rover Freelander. For work reasons, I need $WD but I need a bigger boot space than the Freelander. I have looked at the Skoda Kodiaq, which has a sizeable boot butI'm not really sure the 4WD system will actually get me across muddy fields and through snow when needed (I'm an equine vet)? The older Land Rover Discovery would be okay, but it is a bit pricey. I'm looking to spend £20,000 - £25,000. Is a pick-up too big for day to day driving? Any suggestions would be gratefully appreciated."
When it comes to large and capable 4x4s, the prices are sadly quite high. However, if you’re willing to make a few sacrifices on refinement, you can still get a great and practical SUV for your business needs. The Dacia Duster, for example, is available with four-wheel drive and is handy off road. It’s affordable too and well within your budget: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/dacia/duster-2012/ The SsangYong Rexton is probably the largest proven 4x4 SUV that’s within your budget. It’s not the smoothest of cars to drive on the road, but the boot is huge and it’ll cope with everything a muddy field or harsh winter will throw your way: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/ssangyong/rexton-2017/ If your business is VAT registered, you can reclaimed the tax on a pick-up and there is lots of choice: For our top 10, see: https://vans.honestjohn.co.uk/van-top-10s/top-10-most-economical-pick-ups/ For our guide on commercial vehicle tax, see: https://vans.honestjohn.co.uk/van-tax/van-tax-explained-what-you-have-to-pay-and-how-to-reduce-it/
Answered by Dan Powell
Could you recommend a good SUV that doesn't cost too much?
"We moved to the North East of England from the South and would like to replace my wife’s 2016 Ford Fiesta (6500 miles, Titanium Ecoboost) with a small 4x4 SUV. She likes the look of a used BMW X1, Kia Sportage or Hyundai Tucson but is open to suggestions. The budget is the Ford Fiesta plus £6000. The annual mileage will be about 10,000 -15,000. Any suggestions would be much appreciated."
Our system says you're looking at about £7300 p/x for the Fiesta, so - plus your £6000 - you're looking at £11,300. This is an old model X1 4x4 or previous model Sportage 4x4 or ix35 4x4 (not a Tucson). The newest for your money will be a Dacia Duster 1.5 DCI 4x4. Qashqai have not been particularly reliable but, of course, are made in the NE so are well catered for there. If this is a bit depressing, the other way to go is to fit a set of Michelin Cross Climates or Goodyear Vector 4 Seasons to the Fiesta that will then be as capable in the snow as a 4x4 that isn't on winter tyres.
Answered by Honest John

What does a Dacia Duster (2012 – 2018) cost?

Buy new from £15,495 (list price from £16,010)