By: Jag Dhatt
One of the benefits of being in this industry is getting behind the wheel of some pretty impressive vehicles that truly knock your socks off. Now, take that feeling and multiply it by 10 and you realize the effect it has on your kids, who get dropped off to school and activities in these vehicles.
A few weeks ago, my kids, who are in grade 4 and 6, were in the limelight where ever they went. Why? Because of the brutish, bullish, and arrogant nature of the Dodge Durango SRT. A regular Durango or the R/T is pretty impressive, but if it’s wearing the SRT badge, you know it’s badass, and then some.
Take the power for example. Under the hood sits the coveted 6.4L V8 Hemi, that puts out 475 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. That’s a lot of muscle and you can feel it throughout the rpm range. And to sweeten the pot, you can hear the power. The exhaust is menacing, and you can hear this Durango from a block away. It has a very similar sound to the Grand Cherokee SRT, but the slight difference is noticeable.
Sticking with the power and exhaust theme, the Durango SRT gets a lot of stares and respect when it pulls next to any sports car. One time, I was at a red light next to a Foxbody Mustang that had aftermarket exhausts. The one aspect of the Durango SRT that becomes apparent is that the exhaust note cannot be altered – some other manufacturers give the option of “toning down” the exhaust note. Take the Range Rover Supercharged, in which the exhaust can be toned down for regular driving and then changed to Sport Exhaust mode when you want to really show off. Getting back to the red light and Foxbody Mustang, the driver put down his window and commented that he really liked the sound of the Durango and asked if I had aftermarket exhaust on it. I don’t think he realized it was wearing the SRT badging, but regardless, these are the kinds of comments that were common during my week with the Durango SRT.
So does all this brutish power take away from the practicality of the Durango SRT? Absolutely not. For beginners, this full-size SUV has a lot of space in its cabin. There’s ample seating for 6 passengers, with only captain chairs available in the second row. The third row can seat smaller adults, although I’d still reserve this spot for the kids.
The interior isn’t on par with what you’d find in the Audi Q7 or the Mercedes GLS, but it’s quite nice and ergonomically sound. There’s a leather-stitched dash, suede headliner, rear-seat DVD system, supple Laguna leather, and a useful second row console. Throw in an impressive Beats audio system, heated and cooled front seats, heated second row seats, and a bullet-proof infotainment system that supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and you’ve got everything you need. And I’ve said this before, the Uconnect infotainment system is one of the best in the business; the only gripe I have is that controlling the heated/vented seats and heated steering wheel should be through hard buttons rather than having to use the touchscreen.
On the road, the Durango SRT behaves just as you’d expect it to. The ride is stiff, but would you really want it any other way? Steering is well weighted and to be honest, better suited for straight runs vs slaloms. Don’t get me wrong, the SRT steers well in curvy roads, but not as direct and confidence-aspiring as what you’d get in a BMW X5M for example. At the same time, this SUV isn’t carrying a $100K+ sticker tag either.
As I mentioned before, the ride is stiff, thanks to stiffer springs, but I didn’t spill my coffee at any time. The SRT is absolute pleasure to drive because it does everything you need it to. And if you’re on the highway, the FuelSaver Technology will shut down 4 cylinders to conserve fuel. And it works – during a two-day test for fuel-efficiency, I averaged 12.9L/100 km. Not bad for an SUV that can get from 0 – 100km/hour in just 4.5 seconds.
And to accommodate the various driving styles of buyers, this SRT has seven – yes, seven – driving modes, including Auto, Snow, Tow, Valet, Sport, Eco, and Track. Even if left in Auto mode, it’s a brute and capable of pushing you into the seat. If you really want to experience some G forces, switch to Track and hold on.
And as a full-size SUV ought to be, the Durango SRT has impressive, and best-in-class, towing capacity, of 8,700 pounds. Pack the back, load up the family, hitch up the boat and take off for the weekend or week.
My girls absolutely loved having the Durango SRT as their drop-off-to-school vehicle. Stepping out of the SUV, they were the talk of the school. I mean, that’s instant status for sure.
The 2018 Dodge Durango SRT is the fastest three-row SUV in the FCA line-up. It’s the perfect SUV for anyone looking for a raw American power six-seater. What more could you want? Well, if we’re wishing, then the 707hp Supercharged Hellcat motor would be pure bliss.