Will Ferrell and the 2014 Dodge Durango. Photo credit: Chrysler.

In a plot line only possible in Hollywood, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues character Ron Burgundy teamed up with a major Hollywood studio and the power of a Detroit automaker. The result? A unique advertising campaign that helped Chrysler's Dodge Durango sales soar 59% in October.

Say what?

It was the 0.1 cubic feet of storage in the glove box that comfortably fits two turkey sandwiches, or 70 packs of gum, that sold you all on the Durango – wasn't it?

Even with the help of Ron Burgundy and his hilarious commercials, Chrysler's Dodge Durango is still a major underdog these days -- and a long shot off from its glory days. However, with the recent help of Ron Burgundy, the Durango is on pace to beat 2012 sales by a large amount and will likely have its best sales amount since 2006.

Graph by author. Sales information from Automotive News DataCenter.

"The Dodge brand's irreverent tone and attitude make Ron Burgundy the perfect pitchman for the new 2014 Dodge Durango," said Olivier François, chief marketing officer of Chrysler Group. "By joining forces with Paramount Pictures, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, and Will Ferrell, we're able to show the new 2014 Dodge Durango and its cutting edge technology in a completely unexpected approach that is fresh, funny, and culturally provocative to our audiences." 

Job well done. In addition to the four commercials -- "Horsepower," "Glove Compartment," "Ride," and "Ballroom Dancers" -- the Dodge Durango has another thing going for it: SUV sales are making a comeback.

Chrysler's 2014 Dodge Durango. Photo credit: Chrysler.

Total SUV sales are up 11.3%, and total SUV/crossover sales are up 12.4%. That compares favorably with the industry as a whole that's up a solid 8%. In fact, only one segment is outselling SUVs, and that's the full-size pickup led by Ford's (NYSE:F) F-Series, which has been America's best-selling vehicle for 31 straight years. Aside from Ron Burgundy, the Durango is beginning to sell itself. Here are some highlights from the 2014 model.

  • An 8.4-inch touchscreen with downloadable apps and a customizable instrument gauge.
  • Best-in-class towing of up to 7,400 pounds with V-8 engine; 6,200 pounds with V-6 engine.
  • Best-in-class V-6 driving range of more than 600 miles on a fuel tank.
  • Available dual-screen Blu-ray/DVD player.
  • All-new wheel lineup with a choice of seven wheels, featuring 18-inch and 20-inch wheels with multiple finishes.
  • More than 60 available safety and security features.
  • More than 10 exterior colors and nine different interiors.

In addition, its new eight-speed automatic transmission improves fuel economy by up to 15%, and its V-6 engine option delivers up to 25 miles per gallon highway.

Bottom line
The Dodge Durango is far behind its glory days, and its sales still lag behind rival Ford's large Explorer SUV. However, with its new features and Ron Burgundy commercials, the Durango heads into 2014 with a breath of fresh air, and a chance to be much more competitive. Chrysler is finally able to put money into its redesigns, after its 2009 bankruptcy halted progress, but it remains Detroit's third largest automaker for a reason -- it has a lot of work to do. But this is a step in the right direction.