By Nauman Farooq
When discussing SUVs, the Dodge Durango doesn’t come up in conversation much; however, this model has been doing decently well in the market since its launch back in 1997.
It is a very good vehicle, no matter the trim or the engine – I really quite liked every Durango I’ve tested in recent years. But, to make it more memorable for the masses, what the Durango needed was a personality boost! That is what we got this year, when Dodge introduced the SRT version of the Durango.
This is a vehicle I’ve been waiting to drive, ever since I heard about its existence, and luckily got to do just that recently. How did it do? Did it live up to the hype I had created for it in my head? Read on!
Styling: The Durango is a handsome SUV, but not overly done. From the looks perspective, it doesn’t shout about its presence, but nor is it boring to look at either. Even in SRT trim, the looks are stealthy, and I like that. Eagle eye car enthusiasts will notice the larger opening in the front bumper, a sportier grille, a hood scoop, some sporty blacked out wheels, and two fat tailpipes. It looks like a body builder that is wearing a suit!
Interior: Step inside and you’ll find lots of space for up to seven passengers, and the seats are comfortable, too. Cargo room is dependent on if you have the third-row seats up or folded down, in either case, it’ll give most buyers the practicality they’re looking for.
Up front, you get an 8.4 inch touchscreen for your infotainment (Uconnect), which has a lot more features than I was expecting – you can individually set up the drivetrain to suit your liking – plus all the usual Bluetooth and navigation functions. Cool note about the navigation screen, it actually shows a little Durango driving around on the screen, rather than some generic arrow or car – I like details like that.
The gauge cluster is a good mix of analog and digital gauges, which are easy to make sense off. The numbers on the analog speedometer are a bit small to read, but then, they had to cram a readout that goes all the way to 300 km/h – that’s very cool to see in a seven passenger SUV.
Powertrain: The reason for a 300 km/h speedometer is the motor. Under the hood lies a 6.4L V8 that produces 485 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque. Power is routed to all-wheels via an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission, which shifts very smoothly and quickly – in fact, on hard acceleration, the shift speed is incredibly fast, and you can’t help buy smile as you accelerate down the road.
Launch it properly, and it’ll sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds, and if you happen to be on the German Autobahn, it’ll top out at just over 250 km/h – this is one seriously fast family hauler.
Driving Dynamics: Typically, a vehicle of this sort, which is made to go fast, is not pleasant to drive in most scenarios, but the Durango SRT surprises once again. The ride is comfortable – not like a cement truck, as are most fast SUVs – and furthermore, it handles well; so it can be enjoyed on the back roads and the open road!
All the controls are responsive, the level of performance is eye opening, and on wide open throttle, it sounds like a military weapon – I love it!
Fuel Economy: If there is something I don’t like about this vehicle – and this should come as no surprise- is the fuel economy. I averaged 17.6 L/100 KM during my test week, and given that it’ll only drink premium fuel, the Durango SRT is not cheap to run. But you know what, when you’re having this much fun, you don’t mind the fuel bill.
Pricing: The 2018 Dodge Durango SRT has a base price of $68,845 – my test unit was worth just over $80,000. That is not cheap, but when compared to what the Europeans manufacturers will offer in competition, this Durango SRT is a bargain!
Verdict: I have never been a fan of fast SUVs, I think the whole notion of a performance SUV is an oxymoron, but the Durango SRT has changed my way of thinking. I like it so much, that if I had to pick just one vehicle to spend an entire year with, this would be it.