2021SRT Hellcat is stupid. Fast fool, noisy fool, thirsty fool, and sometimes foolish fun. I will not lie, I like stupid people. This three-row brute will drag your ass down a highway on a ramp or quarter-mile track and drag your brood of youngsters to socially remote outdoor pursuits. With ridiculous power and composure enough to handle that chaos, this Dodge is the ultimate all-American SUV to fly the flag, eat red meat.
- Stunning acceleration and speed
- Great infotainment system
- Theatrical exhaust sounds
I do not like
- Novelty can fade in everyday use
- Scary fuel consumption
- It still looks outdated
Aside from some rather substantial improvements made to the entire Durango range, for just one model year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is dropping its famous 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat Hemi into the bow of this aged SUV, a battle plan that up to today it famously worked with the brandsedan e coupe. Providing the fireworks, a 2.4-liter fan is attached to the top of this V8, pushing up to 11.6 psi of thrust. All it takes is your right foot to light the fuse. And when you do, the V8 delivers a whopping 710 horsepower and 645 pound-feet of torque. This SUV is ready to rain fire and brimstone even on exotic cars in the next lane.
Paired with an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, which is always on time, delivering timely shifts both quickly and smoothly, this transmission can deliver 60 mph from standstill in a supercar that rivals 3.5 seconds. The Durango Hellcat can also wipe out your local quarter-mile drag strip in just 11.5 seconds and accelerate to 180 mph, a speed Dodge claims makes the SRT the fastest three-row SUV in the world. Ensuring this SUV never slips or slips (unless you want it, of course) is a standard full-time all-wheel drive system, which provides unflappable calm, even when performing hard flips on poor surfaces, such as dirt roads . The Durango Hellcat spins all four Pirelli Scorpion Zero all-season tires mounted on sleek 20-inch wheels until it can scrape enough grip, then launch a rocket forward, straight like a laser beam, without wiggling or stagger for the ditch on either side.
When it’s time to slow down your roll, the Durango Hellcat’s Brembo brakes are more than up to the challenge. With six-piston calipers at the front locking 15.8-inch rotors and four-cylinder units at the rear crushing a pair of 13.8-inch discs, they can drag this 60 mph SUV to a standstill in a abrupt 116 feet. Despite their immense power, the brake pedal itself is easy to adjust, without gripping or feeling too soft. That stunt prowess also helps grace the Durango with an impressive tow rating. When properly equipped, it can drag up to 8,700 pounds, a figurecomplaints is best in class.
Likewise, the Durango’s steering is well balanced, delivering an unexpected crispness, which helps this large SUV feel far more agile than one might expect from something with three rows of seats. The steering weighting is also easy to change by switching between driving modes, which you can do quickly with the new Uconnect 5 infotainment system for 2021 (more on that later). The stiffness of the shock can also be adjusted, allowing the ride of this Dodge to change on a whim from smooth to starchy.
With this SUV, you’d better fall in love with the noises of the V8 (and the heady wail of the supercharger!) Because while the powertrain eagerly conveys a symphony of internal combustion, its exhaust also makes an annoying hum at lower speeds, quite, in fact, to make the Durango floor pans resonate. Thankfully, the Hellcat V8 makes a quiet, content purring sound. A driver-selectable active exhaust system would be nice so you can have that rumble when you want it without giving you a headache in rush hour traffic.
Of course, you’d better not be afraid to pump gas, and a lot. The Durango Hellcat burns fuel like a cruise ship and needs at least 91 octane to be happy. Official EPA data has not yet been released, but expect it to be somewhere between dire and frightening. During testing, I only averaged 13.9 miles per gallon in mixed driving, and I wasn’t terribly irresponsible while driving.
This supercharged SUV’s confident handling and straight-line performance are certainly commendable, but the novelty of 710 horsepower can absolutely fade after a while. And once you start considering other aspects of the Durango, its appeal wears off a bit.
This is an old vehicle and it somehow feels it, from the high-effort exterior door handles to some of its unusual secondary controls. Underlining this point is a less than stellar small overlap crash test performance and an uncertain rating of the headlights by the Road Safety Insurance Institute. I remember reviewing a Durango nearly 10 years and two jobs ago and it was mostly the same as this example, which, despite its age, still sells surprisingly well. To its credit, FCA has done an admirable job keeping the Durango fresh and this 2021 model is the best looking ever. Its dashboard has been redesigned to be more driver focused, the center console and door tops have been improved and you can get an elegantly wrapped and stitched dashboard, a premium touch.
The front seats of the Durango Hellcat feel heavily padded, but are surprisingly firm and supportive. This example features comfortable second-row bucket seats and an optional center console, a combination that’s roomy enough for adult passengers (a skosh plus legroom would be nice). As for the third row bench, it is incredibly spacious and comfortable, with an elevated position so you can see the road ahead. As for cargo space, you get 17.2 cubic feet behind the third row, 43.3 aft of the second, and 85.1 cubic feet all-in. These figures are comparable, even if only a whisker behind what theoffers.
My tester’s cabin is well built, the stitched dashboard looks and feels great, and all four doors are finished in leather. The climate controls are solid and couldn’t be simpler to use, made up of sturdy knobs and buttons. Unfortunately, all is not perfect, as the Durango’s A-pillars are huge, hindering outward visibility, and the glove compartment under the armrest in the center console is almost useless, mostly occupied by the available Blu-ray player. The reconfigurable screen in the instrument cluster isn’t great either. He is gritty and lethargic, he takes years to go from one screen to another.
Fortunately, FCA is newthe infotainment system is a winner. This available multimedia array is displayed on a bright and colorful 10.1-inch touchscreen angled slightly towards the driver. The user interface is beautiful, clean and very easy to use, plus it offers a series of highly customizable home screens. It also supports wirelessly is , a feature that perfectly matches the newly added wireless charging pad. For the most part, this system is very responsive to inputs, and I love some of the small SRT-specific touches included, such as the climate control graphics showing an image of a person wearing a racing helmet. Low-end Durango models come standard with an 8.4-inch Uconnect system, which is still a solid solution.
This SUV’s infotainment offerings are excellent, but the other technology falls short. Features like keyless entry with push-button start, trailer sway control and hill start assist are standard across the Durango range and my tester comes with blind spot monitoring and parking sensors front and rear (the last of which continues to give false warnings when stopping at traffic lights), but other Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are conspicuously absent. Features like adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with active braking, and lane departure warning are all optional, even on this $ 91,455 Hellcat (including $ 1,495 in destination taxes).
And that, right there, is perhaps the biggest problem with this SUV. While it can be an absolute revolt to drive and is graced with a comfortable interior, the Durango doesn’t seem to be worth nearly six figures. Hellcat’s base price of around $ 82,500 also looks a bit ridiculous. I mean, the model shown here is almost as expensive as a base, which is much nicer and almost as powerful.
However, if you absolutely must have one of these red-hot kittens, you’d better act fast. Dodge is offering the Durango Hellcat for 2021 only. Order books are open and deliveries are expected to begin in early 2021.