First Drive: 2018 Dodge Durango SRT

2018 Dodge Durango SRT

If you’re looking for a vehicle to cart around 6 or more people on a regular basis, you need a vehicle with at least three rows of seating. If you fit those requirements, your vehicle purchasing options generally fall within two vehicle categories: a minivan (like the Chrysler Pacifica) or a full-size SUV (like the GMC Yukon XL). Both of those options have their own drawbacks, ranging from the regrettable (and undeserved) “it’s a minivan” stigma for minivans, and the 6000lb curb weight, $60K starting sticker, and paycheck-chewing MPG for a traditional full-size SUV.

Dodge has provided a third option for prospective auto buyers with large families in the form of the Durango, which sits in the venn diagram overlap between mid-size and full-size SUVs. Now Dodge has burnished the Durango’s unique position in the market with the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT, an athletic, fire-breathing, three-row SUV that seats six and boasts performance and handling that neither minivans nor elephantine full-size SUVs can match.

2018 Dodge Durango SRT towing

I spent some time behind the wheel of a 2018 Dodge Durango SRT at the 2017 RMDE event, and came away mightily impressed. I spent about 30 minutes in the Durango SRT, accompanied by Pete Jacobsen, a Vehicle Development Manager for the vehicle. Peter told me that one of Dodge’s goals for the Durango SRT was to make it the “Dodge Charger of full-size SUVs.” After spending time in the Durango, I’d say that Dodge has succeeded admirably with that goal.

Rather than just drop the 392-cubic-inch HEMI V-8 into the engine bay and call it a day, the SRT team packed the SRT Durango with a plethora of suspension, exhaust, and other performance upgrades. That potent mill is good for 475-horsepower, and helps the Durango SRT rocket from zero to 60 in only 4.4 seconds, and through the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds. That also gives the Durango a whopping 8,700 pound towing capacity, a figure that shames the tow ratings of the full-size GMC Yukon and Chevrolet Suburban. The exhaust note will make Camaro, Mustang, and Challenger drivers turn their heads, while the ride is smooth and composed, exhibiting a surprisingly limited amount of body roll, and was a genuine pleasure to drive in the twisting mountain roads around Estes Park, CO.

While my time in the Durango SRT was admittedly brief, I’d say that Dodge has managed to field a genre-busting vehicle that will fulfill the needs of driving enthusiasts looking for a full-size SUV that doesn’t drive like one. At a starting price of $64,000, the Durango SRT is also a bargain compared to it’s closest competitor, the $125,000+ Mercedes AMG GLS63.

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