Our long national nightmare of driving three-row family-hauling SUVs that won't double as weekend drag racers is finally over, thanks to the arrival of the Dodge Durango SRT with its 475-horsepower 392 Hemi V8 borrowed from the Challenger T/A.
Hemi power and a performance-tuned all-wheel drive system are a perfect drag racing marriage, launching the Durango SRT to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and through the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds. That time, fastest for an American three-row SUV (but not faster than a Bentley Bentayga W12) is certified by the National Hot Rod Association, so it isn't the product of corporate optimism, a downhill slope or a massive tailwind.
Beyond the engine, performance upgrades include an eight-speed automatic transmission that bangs off faster shifts in just 160 milliseconds and an all-wheel drive system that can send as much as 70 percent of power to the rear wheels.
Seven-mode active shock absorbers, stiffer springs and thicker anti-sway bars reduce body roll for crisper handling and huge Brembo six-piston front and four-piston rear brakes help stop the Durango's significant mass.
The Hemi speaks more authoritatively thanks to a low-restriction exhaust system, while a cold air intake and underhood heat extractors keep the intake side cooler by 18 degrees, according to Dodge.
The SRT version of the Durango gets flared fenders to cover the 295mm-wide Pirelli tires on 20-inch wheels. And the Durango isn't just a show pony; it can work too, with a towing capacity of 8,600 lbs.
“The new 2018 Dodge Durango SRT is America’s fastest, most powerful and most capable three-row SUV,” said Tim Kuniskis, head of Fiat Chrysler's passenger cars brands in America. “This is what you get, when you take everything great about the Durango and combine it with the performance of the Charger SRT: a 12-second quarter mile, toy-hauling, three-row muscle car.”
Look for the Durango SRT to hit dealers late in the year. Dodge hasn't announced pricing, but you'll obviously need to save some pennies for such a well-equipped machine. It will be worth it to have the fastest American three-row SUV. Just steer clear of 12-cylinder Bentleys at the drag strip.