Ever since getting away with the 707-horsepower Challenger Hellcat back in 2015, SRT has been stuffing big, overpowered HEMI V8 engines into whatever Chrysler would let them get away with.
Clearly, during what I can only imagine was a brainstorm meeting, somebody at SRT must have said, “Sure, having a Challenger is fun and all. But what if I want to be able to tow a boat, take my three kids to hockey practice and go drag racing all in the same vehicle?”
And so in 2017, we were introduced to the Dodge Durango SRT— a proper family vehicle that’s also an actual muscle car. Three years on, the SRT Durango hasn’t really received any noteworthy updates. However, it still excels at one very important thing; putting a big grin on your face.
As is the case with all standard SRT vehicles, the Hellcat variants get all the headlines — and that’s certainly true for the forthcoming 2021 Durango Hellcat. However what’s also true of all 6.4-litre, ‘392’-equipped SRT vehicles is that they still offer a high level of performance which, unlike the Hellcat, is usable for daily street driving. Think of it this way; a 392 car may not be more fun than a Hellcat, but it is fun, more often than a Hellcat.
With 475 horsepower on tap, delivered seamlessly through an 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission, it’s possible to blister the Durango SRT to 100 km/h in well under five seconds. That’s fast by any standard. But especially for a vehicle which seats six people. Just select with the “launch” button in the center console, hold your left foot on the brake, mash the throttle and you’re gone. You can do that over and over and over again without the engine or the transmission breaking a sweat.
However, there’s a problem. Because of the Durango’s sheer size, it’s difficult to use all that power to exploit even normal gaps on the highway. In traffic, you really have to pick your battles with all that power. Bury your foot a little too far into the throttle and you’ll find yourself in someone else’s back seat.
Still, the power is intoxicating and because torque delivery comes on nice and low you can use it to toss your passenger back in their seat on a whim. A high performance exhaust gives you all the muscle car HEMI noise you could ask for and the performance tuned steering makes the Durgano surprisingly pliable, if somewhat numb overall.
While the AWD Durango SRT is rated for a towing capacity of 7,200 lb (little surprise with its 470 lb-ft of torque), adding the Trailer-Tow option which includes a 7- and 4-Pin Wiring Harness, a Class IV Receiver-Hitch, a Compact Spare Tire and a Trailer Brake Control will set you back an additional $825.
Most striking on the Durango SRT are styling cues taken from the Dodge Charger such as a menacing performance grille and functional, vented hood reminiscent of various Hellcat models. The iconic Dodge red accented LED tail lamps position the Durango as an unmistakable member of the Dodge family.
Inside, the cabin is beyond spacious. The leather and suede-trimmed front and second row seats are both heated and the overall quality of Dodge’s interiors continue to improve each year.
However, what’s irritating about the interior is just how much of it is an optional extra. So much of what brings the Durango SRT’s interior up to par in its segment is part of what’s called the “Premium Interior Group” option, which adds on a wrapped instrument panel, suede headliner and carbon fibre interior accents for an eye-twitch inducing $2,495.
It’s almost overwhelming how much “infotainment” is available in the Durango SRT. Of course, you get Chrysler’s UConnect system that comes to life through an 8.4-inch Touchscreen Display. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are compatible and you can even use the car as a 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hot Spot.
What’s really entertaining, however, is the SRT Performance Pages app where you can track your reaction time, 0 – 100 km/h time and much, much more. Will you be setting any speed records in this giant people-carrier? Probably not. Will those features ever get old? Also, no. If you want a rear DVD entertainment center, that’s an additional $1,995.
One option you will want is the Harmon Kardon Amplified Speakers with subwoofer pack. It’s $995.
It’s hard to imagine any kind of weather scenario the Durango SRT couldn’t handle. Besides the weight, horsepower, torque and AWD system, you also get 4-wheel traction control, electronic stability control, a conventional differential front axle and an electronic Limited Slip Differential in the rear. Your tires are arguably your best safety feature and again, you’re in good hands there with the Durango’s meaty 295/45ZR20 BSW all-season, run-flat tires.
The “Technology Group” offers customers adaptive cruise control with stop and go, advanced brake assist, full-speed forward collision warning and lane departure warning. However, Dodge will charge you an additional $950 if you want them.
On paper, there is no good reason to buy a Dodge Durango SRT. It’s too big. Too loud. Too crude. Too thirsty. Too powerful. Its base price is already too expensive and then it seems as if everything is an overpriced, optional extra.
If you’re looking for a “performance SUV”, there are many more sensible options on the market for far less money. But I don’t know if it’s possible to love any of those SUVs as much as you would a Durango SRT. Firing up the 392 HEMI engine. Rumbling down the street. Laying your foot into it. You can’t help but have an emotional, over joyous response to those things.
The vehicle was provided to the writer by the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.