+ Still superb value
+ Decent infotainment
+ Solid off-road ability
- Interior feels cheap in places
- Average on-road drive
- Only diesel gets AWD
Verdict: You can tell the Dacia Duster retains Dacia's last-generation platform when driving on the road, but in every other important regard it now feels up-to-date and hence better value than ever.
When Dacia was bought by Renault and reinvented at the start of the 21st century, many dismissed it as the Primark of the car world that'd only appeal to those on the strictest budgets. However, since its own introduction in 2010, the Dacia Duster has been proving that theory wrong.
Y'see, not all wealthy people are frivolous with money. You spot as many Duster's parked outside multi-million Euro ski chalets at the top of mountains as you do parked up on posh city streets, chosen for its rugged dependability and very sensible price.
There's a new grille design similar to the one on Dacia's Sandero and LED headlights with Y-shaped daytime running lights. At the back, there are new taillights and a new, more aerodynamic rear spoiler.
Dacia hasn't gone wild inside, but you do get redesigned seats with new upholstery that are comfier than before and a new sliding armrest with a storage cubby between the front set. Ultimately, it still feels cheaper in the Duster than in a Skoda or Seat, but it is solidly put together.
The bigger news is the Duster's new infotainment, which now comes in three forms. There's an entry-level system that works via an app on your phone that we're yet to try, or a slick 8-inch touchscreen with or without a built-in sat-nav (but standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) depending on which you trim you choose.
There haven't been any changes to the Duster's dimensions with this facelift, so it'll still seat four adults in comfort, but struggle to seat three adults across the rear seats comfortably on a long journey. Boot space isn't an issue, though – there's a generous amount for a family, although slightly less on diesel and AWD versions.
You get the choice of petrol, diesel and petrol-LPG power when buying a Duster. Those spending most of their time in town will be better off sticking to the 90 or 130hp petrols, but if you want AWD then it has to be the 115hp diesel engine. The so-called Bi-Fuel can run on petrol or LPG and could prove cheaper to run if you live near an LPG pump.
The Duster is on an older platform, so doesn't feel quite as comfy or quiet to drive as Dacia's latest models like the Sandero. That said, its light steering is easy to use in town and Dacia has worked to weight it up at higher speeds and feel more secure on the motorway – which it does.
There are still more fun family SUVs to drive on winding country roads though, and the Duster still doesn't come with now-basic safety kit like automatic emergency braking or adaptive cruise with lane-keep tech.
Regardless, the Dacia Duster remains superb value for money. If you aren't too fussed about a posh badge or interior, it has to be on your list of family SUV options.
Inside the Duster's cabin Dacia has been busy redesigning the seat shape and upholstery to make them look more upmarket but more importantly comfier to sit in.
It has also added an armrest between the front seats that slides back and forth to help you find the perfect position and comes with a useful 1.1-litre cubby underneath for chucking your wallet and keys into.
Otherwise, the Duster's basic dash design is the same as before and still features old Renault switches that don't look or feel particularly plush. However, given the Duster' price, that's not exactly surprising and at least everything feels built to last.
What is most obviously different is the Duster's infotainment systems. There's an entry-level system that works via an app on your phone that we're yet to try, or an 8-inch touchscreen with or without a built-in sat-nav depending on which you trim you choose.
The mid-level system gets wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while the top-level one gets wireless, but the smartphone connection is slick in both cases. The only real black mark is the brightness and resolution of the screen, which lags behind Skoda or Seat's efforts. Again, given the price of the Duster, it becomes a minor point.
There haven't been any changes to the internal dimensions of the Dacia Duster for 2022, so it's still a five-seat family SUV that'll seat four adults comfortably, although three adults across the back will be a squeeze on longer journeys.
The driver gets a decent amount of manual adjustment for the seat and wheel, so finding a good driving position isn't much of a faff, although some may find the seat set a little high even in its lowest position.
The Duster offers good storage space inside, with generous door bins, a good-sized glovebox and that new cubby beneath the front armrest. The outside rear seats get Isofix points and getting a baby seat inside and in place isn't too stressful.
The Duster's boot is also a good size at 478 litres, with enough space for a family week away, even if it is ultimately smaller than, say, a Skoda Karoq's. However, diesel and all-wheel-drive Duster models get slightly less space due to their packaging beneath the boot floor.
There's plenty of choice when it comes to choosing an engine for your Dacia Duster.
If you spend most of your time in town, either the 90hp or 130hp petrols will be best, although you can't have an automatic gearbox with either. The only petrol with an automatic gearbox is the punchier 150hp, which gets a new dual-clutch auto that's slick to drive.
If you want all-wheel drive, you'll need to buy the 115hp diesel. It too is manual-only but does also come with a front-wheel-drive if you prefer. If you need all-wheel drive, the Duster is very capable off-road for its price.
Dacia has committed to LPG as a fuel for a while now and the Duster gets a Bi-Fuel model that can run on petrol or LPG. It has a tank for either fuel onboard, meaning it has a very long range between fills and you can flick between either fuel via a button in the cabin.
The Bi-Fuel is also manual and front-wheel drive only, but you won't tell the difference from the driver's seat versus a normal petrol model and it could save you a fair amount in fuel costs if you live near an LPG pump, as it's usually much cheaper to buy than petrol.
The Dacia Duster hasn't been updated when it comes to driving for 2022, which means unlike the Dacia Sandero, it still sits on an older generation of platform.
You can feel this when you drive it, because it isn't as comfy or quiet in town, although its light steering and good visibility does mean it remains easy to thread through traffic and park in urban areas. There's now the option of a 360-degree camera on some models too.
On a country road, though, other family SUVs such as the Seat Ateca feel far more lively and confidence-inspiring through tight bends at speed.
Dacia has worked to weight up the steering at higher speeds this time around, which has resulted in the Duster feeling more planted on the motorway – which it does.
There are now more safety features too, including a park assist, blind-spot monitoring and hill start assist, but importantly no automatic emergency braking adaptive cruise control or lane keep tech. This means the Duster's Euro NCAP crash test rating will remain relatively poor.