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  • Writer's pictureCory Fourniquet

THE Family Hauler for Enthusiasts

No longer do you have to make the choice between hauling people and just plain hauling tail! In the Dodge Brand's approach to the 2021 model year, they are packing a 3-pronged approach to muscle: 2-door, 4-door, and 3-row. Let us introduce you to the latter:

Lets hit the high points first:

  • Powered by the proven supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI® Hellcat V-8 engine

  • TorqueFlite 8HP95 eight-speed automatic transmission

  • 710 horsepower

  • 645 lb.-ft. of torque

  • 0-60 miles per hour (mph) in 3.5 seconds

  • National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) certified quarter-mile elapsed time of 11.5 seconds

  • Top speed of 180 mph and runs 1.5 seconds faster than the SRT 392 on a 2.1-mile road course, equal to 9 car lengths after one lap

  • Dodge will build the Durango SRT Hellcat for the 2021 model year only

  • The 2021 Durango lineup features an updated aggressive exterior with a forward-leaning profile capturing Charger Widebody design cues with the new front fascia, LED low/high headlamps, signature LED daytime running lamps (DRL), grille, rear spoiler and wheel options

  • Performance-inspired interior features a new driver-oriented cockpit, including new instrument panel, wrapped and accent-stitched mid-bolster and center console, upgraded door panels, and the all-new five-times-faster Uconnect 5, with the largest-in-class available 10.1-inch touchscreen

  • The new Tow N Go Package, available on the Durango R/T, leverages its 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 performance, SRT’s menacing looks, muscular front and rear fender flares, and black Brembo six-piston brakes, all while delivering best-in-class towing of 8,700 lbs., an increased top speed of 145 mph, Track, Sport, Snow and Tow drive modes and a new SRT-tuned performance exhaust with an iconic Dodge exhaust rumble

  • No SUV in the world can tow more or carry more with a faster quarter-mile time than the Durango SRT Hellcat. Durango SRT Hellcat, SRT 392 and R/T Tow N Go models outhaul every full-size, three-row SUV on the road with best-in-class towing capability of 8,700 pounds

  • Dealer orders open this summer and vehicles are scheduled to start arriving in Dodge//SRT dealerships this fall; Durango SRT Hellcat orders will open this fall and are scheduled to start arriving in dealerships early in 2021

What is it like to drive an live with, you may wonder...let me tell you. AWESOME!!!

As you can imagine, there are hardly any trade-offs between power and people-moving abilities. This rig truly fits Dodge's "3-row muscle car" ideology. If you are a fan of the standard Dodge Durango, this variant takes everything you love about that and slams a supercharged Hellcat engine and all wheel drive to make it THE most powerful SUV ever.

We got to drive this 2021-exclusive for ourselves in the Texas Hill Country in early October and are now able to share with you just what we thought of it. One word about sums it up: FAST!

The AWD system in the Durango SRT Hellcat is absolutely necessary as quick 0-60 acceleration runs caused all four wheels scrambling for traction with each gear shift. Simply press the launch control button on the dash, mash the brakes, floor the throttle, release the brake and you are blasting to 60 mph fast than a vehicle of this size and weight has any right to. It was so quick, and the end of a long day of testing vehicles left yours truly feeling physically nauseous after several attempts to best my acceleration times. This SUV should not leave any performance enthusiast wanting for power or acceleration. Dodge claims 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds, covers the quarter-mile in 11.5 seconds and has a top speed of 180 mph. It also delivers a road course lap time 1.5 seconds faster than the 2020 Durango SRT 392 on a 2.1-mile road course, equal to 9 car lengths after one lap.

The heart of this beast is a banshee-wailing supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V-8, with 710 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 645 lb.-ft. of torque. The sound of the supercharger is evident at the first blip of throttle. The exhaust rumble is perfect, rounding out the menacing soundtrack of the Hellcat. Engineers did not simply drop the an engine in the Durango and call it a day, but SRT powertrain engineers developed and tested the Hellcat engine and tailored it to the Durango, ensuring it reliably handles the rigors of spirited driving in track situations for sustained periods of time without needing to de-rate its power output due to high temperatures.

An important part of that strategy, powertrain engineers created a dedicated cooling circuit for the charge air coolers integrated in the supercharger housing. This cooling circuit includes a pump, coolant reservoir and heat exchanger, and is designed to keep the air flowing into the engine cooler than 140 degrees Fahrenheit. A cold-air scoop in the lower front fascia helps feed the supercharger and the Hellcat engine’s 92-mm throttle body.

The twin-screw rotors in the supercharger are set close to minimize air leakage and ensure maximum performance. A proprietary coating on the rotors enables the tight fit, minimizes wear and provides corrosion resistance.

The exterior of the entire line has been updated for 2021, but the SRT Hellcat variant gets the same front end treatment as the Charger SRT Hellcat with the sinister look of functional hood scoop and heat extractors, lower sill plates and fascias which is engineered to improve performance with a new chin splitter and updated engine oil cooler duct, air guide and snorkel for cold air induction. Capped off at the tail end with a functional rear spoiler adding much needed 150 lbs of rear downforce. Wheels are standard 20-by-10-inch aluminum wheels in Matte Vapor finish wrapped in 295 Pirelli Scorpion Zero all-season tires. Hiding behind the wheels are the 6-piston Brembo brakes with SRT branded red calipers.

Outside of the engine and the appearance, the interior was heavily updated across the board for 2021 as well. Designed to be driver-focused like their other two performance vehicles, the driver's seat definitely feels like the command center with slimmer center-stack and airplane-inspired toggle switches for controls. New Uconnect 5 system, which is five times faster, more connected, helpful, content rich and adds greater personalization, making it the most advanced Uconnect system ever:

The all-new Uconnect 5 system includes unique appearances and features specific to the new Durango, including:

  • Unique Dodge-themed appearance with black and red accents

  • Vehicle icon on the category bar features Durango graphic

SRT models have additional unique appearance features and Easter eggs, including:

  • Unique SRT “Smoke Show” start-up animation

  • Climate control page features Dodge stripe adjustable climate control icon and “Mode person” with race helmet

  • Unique Serpentine font used throughout the Durango display system

  • Vehicle icon on the home page “category bar” features Durango graphic with SRT logo

  • SRT Performance Pages (standard on R/T, SRT 392 and SRT Hellcat) provide information on vehicle performance, including timers, g-force, gauges, engine and dyno readouts

  • Configurable Drive Modes provide more vehicle control

  • Race Options allow the driver to activate, deactivate and adjust the rpm values for Launch Control and Shift Light features

Add to that unique touches like the Forged Carbon Fiber inlays that are unique to each vehicle, paddle shifters on the SRT branded steering wheel, and the aforementioned Launch Control, you have a true performance rig with the look to back it up.

Beyond the driver's seat, what makes this THE family hauler for enthusiasts is the fact that there is room for 5 other people. Think about that, 6 people in a vehicle with 710 hp and sub-4 second 0-60 runs. That is insane. No longer must you make your friends or family fold in half to sit in the "back seat" of you Mustang or Camaro. No need to have your daily and your weekend sports car. The Durango SRT Hellcat can do it all.

Our example had suede and leather captains chairs in the middle row that had more than enough leg room for your's truly at 5' 10". It also came equipped with the rear seat entertainment entertainment package with two high-resolution 9-inch screens, one on each front seat back. Each screen allows mid-row passengers to watch their movies on Blu-ray or standard DVDs or play their gaming systems via inputs for HDMI or RCA cables for each screen integrated into the front seat backs. Wireless headphones are included as is a wireless remote.

Making your way to the back row is as simple as folding the captain's chairs forward and climbing through the vacated space. Third row space is still more plentiful than the rear seat of any pony car you can buy, with my knees barely missing the back of the middle seats.

Being a family-sized SUV also brings with it the expectation of being able to tow, and Dodge has you covered on that aspect as well with an 8,700 lb tow rating. Just try hauling a boat to the lake behind your Mustang GT 350....

We would say the only trade-offs you as the consumer need to make in order to have the ultimate family hauler for enthusiasts is price and fuel economy. Fuel economy numbers are not available at the time of this article, but with the less powerful 2020 SRT version being rated at 13 city 19 highway, 15 combined, we anticipate the Hellcat version to flirt with single digit city numbers on paper and to tempt you, the driver even lower with the addictive sound of the supercharger and exhaust.

Starting at $82,490, this also won't be wooing people away from Mustangs and Camaros, even the top of the line models. Dodge says SRT shoppers most frequently cross-shop the Corvette, which makes much more since to us with this price point.

We will keep begging Dodge to loan us an example to live with for more than an afternoon, but we can tell you from our short stint in the Durango SRT Hellcat, you won't be disappointed. There is something so primal about the sounds that this rig makes and the fact that you can load up your friends or entire family in a vehicle that could put many muscle cars to shame is thoroughly impressive.


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