Thanks to our friends at Abbotsford Chrysler, I had the chance to drive and review the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT the other weekend. I had an absolute blast and thank them for the opportunities that they give us to review new FCA products for our readers.
While the third generation Dodge Durango made its debut for the 2011 Model year FCA has kept it fresh. For the 2014 model year the Durango received mid cycle enhancement which brought the 8 speed ZF transmission and front and rear styling enhancements including the Dodge signature “racetrack” LED taillights. For 2014 the interior was tweaked as well with a new instrument cluster with 7 inch re-configurable display, new center stack with optional 8.4 inch UConnect, new steering wheel and rotary shift knob.
My tester was a 2018 Durango SRT finished in DB black with red and black Laguna leather seats. The exterior looks muscular with a wide body design, functional SRT hood with a center air inlet with heat extractors on either side and a new front fascia with lower valence housing a cold air duct and LED fog lamps. The SRT has a lower ride height compared to other Durangos sitting on an SRT specific adaptive damping suspension and sits on 20×10 inch wheels wrapped with 295/45/ZR20 Pirelli Scorpion Verde run flat all season performance tires. Three season Pirelli P-Zero run flats are optional. The Durango SRT is a large SUV at a touch over 5,500 lbs and an overall length of 201.2 inches but its styling and driving dynamics create the illusion and feel of a smaller vehicle.
Inside the Durango SRT is a very nice place to be. As mentioned my tester had the red and black Laguna leather seats which look great and were very easy to get comfortable in. Bolstering is aggressive but the seats are wide enough that even a large guy like myself (270 lbs) can get comfortable without the bolsters digging into your back. The interior is nicely finished with quality materials, excellent fit and finish and a pleasing design. The center stack features FCAs 8.4 inch UConnect 4C system with crisp graphics, the system is very intuitive and quick to respond to the touch. Below that are your redundant radio and climate controls as well as a switch bank for controlling other features. The center console has a nice large storage bin at the front with 2 USB ports, for 2018 all Durangos now use FCAs “T-handle” shifter in the center console for a sportier feel. There are 2 cup holders and 2 tiered storage under the center armrest (vehicles with the rear DVD option lose about half the storage space in the center armrest due to the mounting of the DVD player). I’m 6 Feet tall and was surprised that I was able to get comfortable in every row with foot and knee room to spare even with the drivers seat set for my height. A lightweight performance package is available which deletes the third row and replaces the second row buckets with a bench. Also optional is a second row console with armrest and storage which fits in between both rear bucket seats if equipped.
Behind the wheel the Durango SRT feels much smaller than it is. Thanks in part to the SRT specific suspension and almost perfect 52/48 weight distribution, throwing the Durango SRT into corners makes it feel much more like a Challenger SRT than a large 3 row SUV. Cornering was flat, turn in sharp and grip strong going through some twisty back roads. There are seven drive modes available with track being the most aggressive. In track mode 70 percent of the power goes to the rear wheels, the throttle response is sharpened up, the steering gets noticeably heavier, suspension gets firmer and the 8 speed transmission rips shifts in 160 milliseconds feeling more like a dual clutch transmission than a conventional automatic. Power is effortless and comes on strong thanks to the 392 cubic inch Hemi V8. In the Durango SRT the 392 delivers 475 horsepower and 470 lb ft of torque. This translates into claimed 0-60 times of 4.4 seconds and an NHRA certified quarter mile time of 12.9 seconds. While I wasn’t able to take this Durango to the track power felt strong and combined with the all wheel drive system launches throw you back into the seat as the Durango SRT leaves hard with no wheel spin. In track mode up shifts are also met with some nice pops from the exhaust. Brakes are 6 piston Brembo up front with 4 piston Brembo calipers out back. Pedal feel is excellent and these brakes stop the Durango SRT in a hurry.
The Durango SRT is not only fun but practical. With all weather practicality due to the all wheel drive system, room for the whole family and best three row SUV towing of 8,700 lbs, the Durango SRT is an excellent option for someone looking for a fun practical family vehicle. On the flip side it is so fun to drive by itself it’s also a great option for someone looking for a fun vehicle period. If you’re shopping in the three row SUV class, the Durango SRT deserves a hard look.
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