THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: The thrust (and the sounds) from the 392 HEMI V8
- What’s Worst: Fuel consumption
- What’s Interesting: Has three rows, can tow up to 8,700 lbs, and does zero to sixty in 4.4 seconds
The venerable Dodge Durango sport utility has been sold in various specifications, from luxurious to sporty, for the last few years, it’s never before had the full performance treatment by SRT until now.
They’ve taken this three row SUV and massaged it a little, and the spec sheet reads like a to-do list from a respectable tuning shop. They’ve dropped the 6.4 litre HEMI V8 under the hood and it makes 475 horsepower and 470 pounds-feet of torque. A unique cold air intake and exhaust system make it sound like thunder, at least under aggressive throttle. It’s paired to a quick-shifting eight speed automatic transmission that’s calibrated specifically for this SRT.
Brake sizes are up with fifteen-inch rotors up front, 13.8-inch in the back, clamped by six-piston Brembo calipers in front and four piston rears.
The 295mm-wide tires are by Pirelli and while an all-season comes standard, it’s best if you order the three season P Zeros like this tester and get a set of winter rubber for those months when it snows.
Naturally, the suspension is buttoned down and was engineered specifically for the SRT. It sits lower than other Durangos, spring rates are firmer (3% front, 18% rear), there’s a larger rear anti roll bar that’s 18% stiffer, and the adaptive dampers are calibrated to suit the lower, stiffer set up.
Yes, it does ride a little firmer, but you can actually hustle this biggest of all SRTs through corners with confidence. Turn in response is great, steering feel isn’t bad at all for a big SUV, and the brake pedal feel and modulation are spot on.
Wide-open throttle in this big sport utility is glorious. The first thing you notice is that it throws you back into the seat unlike most SUVs. It’s a big achievement, considering it weighs in at 2,500 kilograms and it’ll hit zero to sixty in just 4.4 seconds. And get this – it’s NHRA certified to do 12.9 seconds in the quarter mile. This is one SUV that puts sport in sport utility. The second thing you notice is that the song from the engine is as welcome to the ears as your favourite rock track.
The cool thing is that there are seven different drive modes that are unique to the Durango SRT but Track mode is the most sporting. Auto spilts torque 40-60 per cent front to rear, Sport is 35-65, and Track sends 70 percent of the torque to the rear axle. Snow and tow modes are 50-50. Sport mode reduces shift times by up to 50%, while Track mode makes gear changes in just 160 milliseconds.
All of that performance does come at a cost – and not just the price of admission. Dodge says this SUV is capable of 9.6 litres per 100 kilometres on the highway and 12.7 city, yet the best the SRT could produce in mostly highway driving was just 16 L/100km. Still, for the sound it makes, performance it gives, and the haul-all-the-things capability, it’s worth the price at the pump.
The exterior doesn’t look too much different than sport-trimmed Durangos, so you’ve got to have a keen eye to spot an authentic SRT, but understatement never harmed an honestly quick SUV, did it? The deeply sculpted hood includes legitimate heat extractors and a cold air intake. No fakery here.
For the most part, the interior is pretty standard Durango, save for the SRT wheel with obvious paddle shifters, the more aggressively bolstered seats, and the luxe finish on the dash. The wheel’s thick rim feels great in your hand, although flat-bottomed wheels are a bit tired, despite their popularity. Seating position is perfect and you’ve got great visibility from the driver’s chair. Seats are heated and cooled for your comfort.
In this SRT, three rows are standard equipment, but, rightly, Dodge allows you to delete the third row if you don’t need the extra seats and yearn for more cargo-carrying capacity – and the best part is that they call it the Lightweight Performance Package, perfectly aligned with the nature of the SRT brand.
One of the great things about the 2018 model year Dodges – and plenty of other FCA vehicles – is the no-nonsense uConnect system. Sure, it’s got that same simple, intuitive interface as recent model years, and there’s the expected Apple Car Play and Android Auto, but the most important thing is that they didn’t skimp on the processor that runs the system. Inputs are quick and switching from one screen to another is fast. It’s so much better than most other systems out there, plus the Beats speakers sound great too.
The $1,450 Technology Group option is recommended for its full suite of passive safety systems including forward collision warning, but Dodge does one thing particularly well. The option package includes adaptive cruise control, however, unlike nearly all other manufacturers’ offerings, Dodge makes good ol’ regular cruise control available for the driver’s choice. The rear seat DVD is near useless in the age of tablets and not inexpensive at $2,150. Skip this option and, even after buying a couple of cheap tablets for the kids, you’ve put some money back into your pockets.
What’s more is that Mopar recently announced two new interesting products for the Durango SRT. The first is a new, freer flowing and louder exhaust system, and the second is a lowering spring kit that drops the SRT a little more than half an inch. Those might be mandatory dealer-installed options, if you’re so inclined.
When most performance-minded SUVs start in the six figure range, the Durango SRT is the value leader in this segment starting at under $73,000.
2018 Dodge Durango SRT
BODY STYLE: full-size, four-door, three row SUV
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, all-wheel drive
ENGINE: 6.4-litre, eight-cylinder engine (475 hp, 470 lb/ft of torque) with an eight-speed automatic transmission
CARGO CAPACITY: 490 litres (behind third row)
FUEL ECONOMY: 12.7/9.6 L/100 km city/hwy
PRICE: Durango SRT, $72,845; $79,540, as tested plus destination fee of $1,895
WEB SITE: www.dodge.ca
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