As a family gets larger, so does its car. Couples that once drove sporty little coupes or hot hatchbacks trade in the keys for minivans and SUVs that do a better job of carting around the family and all their stuff. It’s a sad right of passage for driving enthusiasts who like performance vehicles, but Dodge has a solution. The 2018 Dodge Durango SRT with its V8 Hemi is as ready to haul the kids to soccer practice as it is to tackle the track.
The Durango is available in six trims starting with the mild-mannered SXT at $29,995. Sitting at the top of the range is the SRT at $62,995. Those trim names are close, but they’re very different vehicles aiming at two very different SUV drivers. Did you hold back tears when you traded your hot hatch for an SUV? Do you loathe the family minivan? Don’t you worry. The Dodge Durango SRT has you covered.
What makes the SRT different is its focus on performance. No, we don’t mean they stuck a drive mode button in there to ever so slightly alter the transmission shift points and called it a day. The Durango does have drive modes, seven of them, but it also has a powerful engine, performance brakes, a performance suspension, and in your face styling.
The seven drive mode options include a Valet mode so the guy you toss your keys to doesn’t have too much fun parking your Durango and a Track mode so you can have all the fun possible when the keys are safely in your possession. Dodge means it when they say this is a track-ready SUV and even includes a one-day Dodge SRT Track Experience at Bondurant Racing School with every Durango SRT they sell.
Power comes from a 6.4-liter V8 Hemi with 475 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission. It’s quite simply a beast. Power delivery is so strong you’ll need to get used to a light foot on the gas or find yourself accidentally peeling out of the grocery store parking lot. Or, maybe not so accidentally.
It’s exhilarating merging into highway traffic where it’s no problem at all getting up to speed. in fact, you’ll reach the speed of traffic and then some long before you get to the end of the on ramp. The transmission shifts are smooth yet aggressive making sure you never forget you’re driving a performance SUV.
Handling is good and unlike most other SUVs. This thing takes a corner like a champ, staying planted without any lean or body roll. If you do need to ease up and slow down, the standard Brembo performance brakes provide controlled stops.
In the love it or hate it department, there’s the high performance exhaust. It’s loud outside. It’s loud inside. Basically, it’s loud. You will turn heads and you might annoy your neighbors. We happen to be a big fan of the Durango SRT’s bold exhaust note, but passengers looking for a quiet, relaxing ride will find it intrusive, especially on longer trips. Our suggestion is to find new passengers.
The interior of the Durango SRT is top notch with heavily-bolstered front sets that are heated and ventilated and heated second-row captain’s chairs. Standard seats are trimmed in Nappa leather and suede with an embroidered SRT logo with the option for full leather. It’s a comfortable and attractive interior.
The Uconnect infotainment system features an 8.4-inch screen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Beats premium audio system standard. This continues to be one of the most intuitive infotainment systems available. Options include a rear-seat entertainment system with dual screens to keep the kids busy.
The Dodge Durango SRT delivers with a comfortable, fully-featured interior, bold exterior design, and powerful engine. Performance SUVs were once a novelty, but automakers got the message that simply because you’re driving a full-size SUV doesn’t mean you don’t like to drive. The Durango SRT is the perfect solution for anyone who needs the practicality of an SUV, but still wants to have a little fun behind the wheel.