By on July 2, 2020

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.


[Images: FCA]

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18 Comments on “One Year Only: Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat...”

  • avatar

    I can’t wait for the Hellcat rebadged Peugeot.

  • avatar

    Does this add as much weight as the Hellcat-ization of the LX cars? If so, the Hellcat Durango might top three tons. Oof.

  • avatar

    Drop the kiddies off at preschool in this baby…hehehehehe…

    Don’t tell my next door neighbor – he’s a Mopar nut and has an SRT Durango (which, by the way, has an exhaust note that is to die for).

  • avatar

    Wow. What a stunning update to the Durango. Looks absolutely fantastic

  • avatar

    Wow. What a stunning update to the Durango. Looks absolutely fantastic

  • avatar

    Not that I would be in a position to know, but I’m incredibly confident that the brakes on this are not the same as the Durango SRT as the article states, but rather are carried over from the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk (along with the absolutely stellar driveline).

    • 0 avatar

      Anything about the driveline which stands out above the SRT? I love the SRT, and wasn’t nearly as enamored with a Challenger Hellcat, as it doesn’t sound as wicked. You can’t floor it all the time, and the throttle and transmission uptake wasn’t nearly as linear.

      I’m not talking track use, though. Just general asshat driving around LA and SF: Cutting people off, diving into gaps and in general being a douche making a spectacle of myself. The whole thing, is like an automotive version of a Jesse James chopper………

      The SRT also tows like a champ and, MAN!!! does it sound awesome doing that (for all the 100 miles you are entitled to, before needing to stok up on more carbon to emit…) Most San Franciscans will, for political and fashion reasons, probably never accept it; but the “compact” and tight handling SRT, may well be the best thing going, for towing fully loaded 4500lb Uhaul trailers around that tight and hilly city…..

      • 0 avatar

        Again, not that I have any direct knowledge of this kind of thing, perish the thought, but compared to the SRT it has…

        1. 8HP95 transmission vs. 8HP75 transmission (same ratios, but stronger and more durable).

        2. Rear propshaft with thicker tubes and more effective CVJ venting for high speed operation. Front propshaft has the optimized venting as well.

        3. Rear axle with 4-point mounting system instead of 3-points, optimized ring & pinion manufacturing processes and tooth profile, 4-pinion differential vs. 2-pinion differential in the SRT,

        4. Rear halfshafts with 300M barshaft, step-spline interfaces into the CVJs to distribute load in the splines, 35T hub spline vs. 32T in the SRT, and an 8-ball CVJ vs. the 6-ball CVJ in the SRT.

        It’s pretty slick. I hear those halfshafts were quite the science project.

        • 0 avatar

          Thanks! That does seem like it would add up to a meaningful toughening up.

          Has there been reports of drive line trouble in SRTs? Or are they doing it just because 800hp is an awful lot more than even an already healthy 475? Anecdotally, it seems like drag racing with a trailer attached, is a popular pastime among SRT owners…. You get to cane that Hemi for all it is worth, without doing much more than simply keeping up with soccermoms in Teslas off the line….

          • 0 avatar

            I’m sure that the improvements were related to the nearly 50% increase in horsepower. That’s quite a jump in capability.

  • avatar

    These Hellcats never fail to put a smile on my face blasting around this or that track. The SRT 392 Durango I took around Road America was so much better than I thought it would be.

  • avatar

    If I had around $90K including sales taxes spend on a vehicle, this would be it – Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat Limited Edition.

  • avatar

    Rare and valuable 20 years in the future.

  • avatar

    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!

  • avatar

    I wish these came out earlier!

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