Last year when we drove the the Dodge Durango SRT 392, we came away suitably impressed. The 392 had all the space and utility of the Durango with the heart and soul of a muscle car. It was the best of all worlds and we enjoyed it thoroughly. Still…there was a nagging desire in the back of our minds for something a bit…more. Not necessarily more space or more comfort or more amenities, but more…power. More…speed. More…untamed bottled rage. We wanted to see the Hellcat engine dropped into the chassis. Dodge must have been reading a few pages ahead of us because they were already hard at work at making our yet-to-be-realized dreams come true. Now that the dream has become reality, we got to spend some time putting it through the paces.
Dodge delivered a Redline Pearl example with twin black racing stripes to us. It looked meaner than the 392. I don’t know if it was the deep, sharp splitter or the huge cold-air intake on the wide hood flanked by enormous heat vents, but something about it seemed to emanate serious speed. Maybe it was the large twin exhaust pipes sticking out from beneath the tail. Or the chrome Hellcat badges on the flanks. Maybe it was all those little clues rolled up into one serious-looking speed wagon.
Inside was a mixture of monochromatic materials: black bolstered leather and suede seats with “SRT” and the Hellcat logo, black carpeting, black console and dash, with some chrome trim bits and the inimitable green and black of pressure-molded carbon fiber. With two extra rows of seats, there’s seating for six. All of it folds flat for enormous cargo capacity. The seats were quite comfortable, and with both heating elements and forced air ventilation you’d be hard-pressed to ever find yourself uncomfortable, no matter how long the trip might be.
Under the hood lay the legendary Hellcat engine, that 6.2L supercharged Hemi V8 that generates 710 hp and 645 lb-ft of torque. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of and at full-honk those dreams are fulfilled. The power is routed through an 8-speed automatic transmission connected to a set of paddle shifters behind the wheel and is transferred to the pavement through all four wheels. That’s right, the Durango SRT Hellcat is a full-time AWD, pavement-wrinkling land rocket. Plant the throttle and it launches, clicking through its gears until the gearing and aerodynamics can’t overcome the wind resistance any longer. What speed is that at? I’m not sure because we weren’t about to attempt those speeds on public roads but Dodge tells us it’ll top out over 180mph. We CAN tell you that 0-60 mph happens in under 4 seconds. We tried and proved that over and over and over again. Y’know…just for scientific research purposes.
Reigning in all that speed is done by massive Brembo performance brake calipers clamping down on huge dinner-plate sized two-piece ventilated brake rotors. The brakes are a little grabby but they do an exceptional job of scrubbing speed off when you’re coming in too hot. Surrounding the brakes are unique 20” wheels shod with Pirelli performance tires.
There are several drive modes available to choose from – auto, sport, track, tow, and snow. Each influences the behavior of the engine, the transmission’s shift speed, the all-wheel drive system, the steering, the suspension, and the stability control.
Driving the Durango SRT Hellcat is quite an experience. While acceleration is intoxicating and handling is impressive, the steering feels a little lighter than we’d like. A little more weighting would be nice. Given the kid-carrying capacity of the Durango though, perhaps Dodge is expecting moms to be the primary drivers of SRT Hellcat Durangos. Lucky moms! And while the engine generates oceans of torque and light-years of speed, the exhaust can get a little boomy inside. We noticed this with the 392 version and hoped that the SRT Hellcat model would eliminate it but it’s still there and it can get uncomfortable on the eardrums at certain revs.
The EPA estimates that the SRT Hellcat Durango will get 17 mpg on the freeway and 12 in the city. We were in the ballpark. After driving the Ram TRX, this iteration of a Hellcat-powered truck actually seemed efficient. But let’s be honest, if you’re buying a Durango Hellcat you already know you’re going to burn a lot of fuel. Worth it though.
The Hellcat SRT Durango starts at around $81,000. Ours optioned out around $91,000. That’s a lot but if you’re looking for the ultimate family hauler, boat tower, and unusual track weapon, this is your truck.