Dodge may be best-known for its high-powered muscle cars, but the company still has to cater to the masses. That’s what the Durango is for. The big three-row SUV is equipped and ready for families that need it. However, the folks at SRT couldn’t let this excellent vehicle just be a family hauler, so they decided to go ahead and give the vehicle a performance treatment, not unlike that of the Dodge SRT muscle cars. The result? A performance SUV that qualifies as the most powerful three-row SUV available.
Dodge was nice enough to invite us to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to put the high-powered Durango to the test. After that, we got a little time in the SUV on regular roadways to see how the vehicle was as a day-to-day vehicle as well. Although it was a rainy day, we still put the Durango through the wringer and got a feel for exactly what it’s capable of.
What Is It?
The Durango SRT is, at its heart, still a Durango. It’s as comfy and capable as a family vehicle as it ever was. What makes the SRT version special is that it’s now an exceptional performer when it comes to pushing the limits. Dodge took the basis for one of its most practical SUVs and let the whacked out performance-rabid weirdos at SRT do what they wanted.
The Durango SRT comes with a 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque 6.4-liter V8 mated to a TorqueFlite 8-speed transmission, which pushes power through an AWD system. By the way, 475 hp is more powerful than any other three-row SUV out there. That engine can propel the Durango SRT from 0-60 mph in just 4.4 seconds, and the NHRA certified the vehicle’s quarter-mile time at just 12.9 seconds. That puts the SRT right in the company of many sports cars in terms of straight-line speed.
The vehicle isn’t just built for going fast in a straight line, though. The vehicle has short and long-arm independent front suspension and Bilstein adaptive damping suspension. In back there’s multi-link suspension set up designed for performance. There’s also six-piston Brembo brakes and 15-inch front rotors as well as 13.8-inch rear rotors. SRT also fitted a throaty sounding exhaust and Pirelli Scorpion Verde tires and standard 20-inch “Goliath” wheels.
While all of that spells amazing performance from an SUV, you don’t have to drive the Durango SRT like a race car all the time. The vehicle comes with the SRT seven-mode drive system. This allows you to adjust the drive settings as needed to maximize performance or comfort. It adjusts everything from suspension and stability control to torque distribution and shift points.
Dodge didn’t forget that people use the Durango to tow trailers. In fact, the engineers one-upped the competition by making the vehicle capable of towing up to 8,700 lbs. That’s a class-leading number. We talked with one of the SRT reps and he said the team got the absolute most out of the Durango’s current design they could.
In addition to all the performance upgrades, the vehicle also gets a lot of exterior and interior changes. On the outside, the vehicle gets a widebody exterior design, functional hood scoop, new front fascia, LED fog lamps. Inside, there’s standard leather and suede, SRT flat-bottom steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats and heated second-row captains chairs, specialized trim and the Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen media center. This is where you access all of the drive modes and infotainment features.
How Does It Look and Feel?
The Durango was already one of the more tough-looking SUVs out there. The SRT treatment just takes things up a notch. The vehicle looks muscular, powerful, and just flat-out bad to the bone from every single angle. Every time we look at it, AC/DC’s TNT starts playing in our head. We can see the advertising campaign now. Fade in, a man is driving the Durango like a madman, doing burnouts, blowing doors off other cars on the road, and generally causing mayhem. Then as the song ends, he pulls up to a school and picks up his two kids and their friends as the final school bell rings. Then a deep voice says, “Yes you can have it all.” There you go, Dodge. You’re welcome.
The inside looks and feels pretty great too, just in a different way. You get the point from all the SRT logos throughout the cabin that this is a performance vehicle, but it’s a soft and civilized cabin. The seats are comfy, the steering wheel is thick and cushioned, and the infotainment system is easy to use and full of features. No matter what seat you sit in, it’s easy to get comfortable and that sport-tuned exhaust’s note is noticeable but not unpleasant, even in the third row. Overall, we have to give the Durango SRT a big thumbs up. It’s lovely inside and out.
How Does It Drive?
We first drove the Durango SRT on the infield road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It started pouring rain right before we got out on the track, so we waited about an hour for the rain to slow and then went out in the big V8-powered beast. Despite the rain, the vehicle handled like a champ. We expected it to feel heavy and cumbersome, but SRT has done wonders with this vehicle. For a 5,369-lb large SUV, the body-roll is kept at a minimum, and overall, the vehicle feels very well balanced.
The 6.4-liter V8 roars like a muscle car and can take the big guy to a top speed of 155 mph, faster than you expect. Gear shifts crack off quickly, and the transmission does a darn good job downshifting on its own, as well. There are paddle shifters, but we only used them on one of our several runs around the course. The brakes were strong and feel was progressive, and despite several trips around the course, we noticed little brake fade. If you want an SUV you can track, this is an excellent choice.
On the road, the vehicle is a pleasure to helm, the engine is agreeable and not too punchy in the regular driving mode, though it's tough not to have a lead foot. It handles well and the ride is smooth and compliant over rough pavement. It was storming while we were out on the road, and we played around with the drive settings just a little bit, switching through the settings to see how things change. There is a noticeable difference between them, but for the most part, we just left the SUV in auto and didn’t experience any issues.
Should You Buy It?
If you’re sick of anemic crossovers and SUVs focused on efficiency, and you really want a muscle car but have to get an SUV because of your family, this is the perfect vehicle for you. It’s faster than a lot of vehicles on the road and can do everything you could possibly need it to other than sip gas.
If performance isn’t of paramount importance to you, we’d have to suggest something else. The regular Durango is an excellent alternative if you don’t feel the need for speed or have the $64,090 (incl. $1,090 destination fee) to spend. Speaking of that, when we first saw the price of this vehicle, our eyes bugged out of our head, but then we looked at the spec sheet again and decided the price is warranted. If you want a performance car but only have room in the garage for one vehicle, this is what you get.