One Year Only: Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
one year only dodge durango srt hellcat

Dodge continues to parade its buffet of power ahead of the July 4th weekend, announcing the most aggressive versions of its coupe, sedan, and SUV. While the 2021 Dodge Durango lineup happens to be last we’ll cover, we wouldn’t consider it the least important — especially in regard to sales. Most transactions will come via the standard Durango model, which receives a number of exterior enhancements and sweeping upgrades to its interior.

But it wouldn’t have been right for FCA to just leave us with a better SUV after showing us what could be done with the Challenger and Charger. So it crammed the Hellcat’s 6.2-liter V8 inside the Durango before calling it a day, satisfied that it had finally done enough for enthusiasts before emissions regulations manage to ruin their lives forever.

Despite your author’s personal taste for lower ride heights, the Durango SRT Hellcat seems a wise conclusion on the part of Fiat Chrysler. The New Jersey Turnpike has thrice presented me with a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk being piloted confidently through traffic. Either New Jersey has a sick obsession with ludicrously powered utility vehicles or there’s actually a market for this kind of automobile. Sadly, Dodge tells us it’s only available for the 2021 model year — after which it will no longer be emissions compliant for the segment.

Ah, progress.

But what are you really getting while the getting is presumably good? Quite a lot, actually. The Durango Hellcat makes the Ford Edge ST look like a baby’s toy by comparison. Its supercharged V8 makes a whopping 710 horsepower and 645 lb-ft of torque and sends it to all four corners of the vehicle via a Torqueflite 8HP95 8-speed automatic (same as Jeep’s Trackhawk).

That promises an exciting 0-60 time of just 3.5 seconds and quarter-mile runs of around 11.5 seconds. Speed hunters may find themselves gravitating toward the Charger Redeye we discussed earlier in the day, but anyone with more than a couple of kids will welcome the Durango’s superior interior volume and practicality. The SUV still goes 180 mph and will dust just about anything else that sidles up to you at a stoplight.

It’ll be a contender even if you’re hauling cargo, as it possesses a towing capacity of 8,700 pounds, though we cannot begin to imagine how that will impact fuel economy.

However, the Durango has made a few sacrifices in the name of performance. For one, Dodge nixed the fog lamps in favor of two cold-air intakes. The passenger side sucks air directly into the intake manifold while the driver’s side pulls it in for an upgraded oil cooler. Speaking of airflow, the SRT Hellcat also boasts the largest x-pipe Dodge could muster — claiming that it gives the model a truly distinct sound.

Aerodynamics have also been given a lot of attention. SRT fitted the Hellcat SUV with a functional chin spoiler, new front and rear fascias, and a rear spoiler that generates 140 pounds of downforce at top speed. While Dodge admits it was added to help with stability, engineers confessed it was mostly there to round out the aesthetics. They also recommend against trying to hit 180 mph on public roads.

Brakes and tires carry over from the 475-hp SRT Durango, though customers can opt for a set of 20-inch wheels and stickier tires as part of the black pack — which darkens trim pieces for that murdered-out look. Though even without the appearance pack it’s a more sinister-looking automobile. Dodge says all of the exterior changes were either done in service of improving performance or making it more closely resemble the Charger.

It also promises a more comfortable experience when you want it. Thanks to tuned internal rebound springs, coupled with a matched upper top mount, Dodge says the dynamic tuning range has been increased. That means setting the car in comfort mode should be more comfortable. Meanwhile, Dodge has added stiffness and reduced body roll in track mode — resulting in a more responsive turn-in with 2.5 percent less understeer at the limit.

The entire Durango line adopts an improved interior with Uconnect 5 and an optional 10.1-inch infotainment screen. We’ve very little bad to say about Uconnect lately (and have reviewed version 5 in the past). We primarily like it because it’s one of the most intuitive interfaces in the industry and forsakes gimmicky displays for superior functionality and customizability. The interior also has a more diver-focused orientation overall, with the manufacturer again taking cues from the Charger/Challenger.

Durango Hellcat models will also offer unique red accenting, specialty SRT touches and standard heated/ventilated seats with leather and Alcantara trim. But even more luxurious/gaudy red ones are available if you’re not a fan of understated interiors.

As with the Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye, Dodge will begin taking orders of the Durango SRT Hellcat in the fall. Showrooms should start seeing them in early 2021. If you want one, you’d best act early. As previously mentioned, FCA said it can only build these babies for one year before they’re technically illegal.

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2 of 18 comments
  • SSJeep SSJeep on Jul 06, 2020

    Anyone who hates on this monster is not a true car person. The Durango Hellcat is absolutely fantastic and ticks about every box anyone could ever want. I love it and would consider it if I ran into a few bucks. I adore the Durango SRT, the Hellcat would be that much better!

  • DownUnder2014 DownUnder2014 on Jul 11, 2020

    I wish these came out earlier!

  • Bobbysirhan The Pulitzer Center that collaborated with PBS in 'reporting' this story is behind the 1619 Project.
  • Bobbysirhan Engines are important.
  • Hunter Ah California. They've been praying for water for years, and now that it's here they don't know what to do with it.
  • FreedMike I think this illustrates a bit of Truth About PHEVs: it's hard to see where they "fit." On paper, they make sense because they're the "best of both worlds." Yes, if you commute 20-30 miles a day, you can generally make it on electric power only, and yes, if you're on a 500-mile road trip, you don't have to worry about range. But what percentage of buyers has a 20-mile commute, or takes 500-mile road trips? Meanwhile, PHEVs are more expensive than hybrids, and generally don't offer the performance of a BEV (though the RAV4 PHEV is a first class sleeper). Seems this propulsion type "works" for a fairly narrow slice of buyers, which explains why PHEV sales haven't been all that great. Speaking for my own situation only, assuming I had a place to plug in every night, and wanted something that ran on as little gas as possible, I'd just "go electric" - I'm a speed nut, and when it comes to going fast, EVs are awfully hard to beat. If I was into hypermiling, I'd just go with a hybrid. Of course, your situation might vary, and if a PHEV fits it, then by all means, buy one. But the market failure of PHEVs tells me they don't really fit a lot of buyers' situations. Perhaps that will change as charging infrastructure gets built out, but I just don't see a lot of growth in PHEVs.
  • Kwik_Shift Thank you for this. I always wanted get involved with racing, but nothing happening locally.