Dodge creates the ultimate muscle SUV with the 2021 Durango Hellcat
The Durango SUV has been an enduring favorite of the Dodge lineup. Since Dodge decided to focus its brand exclusively on muscle, the Durango has had a special place in the broader SUV market. Where most modern crossovers are based on a front-wheel-drive platform, the Durango is proudly old school. It's a rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive platform with up to three rows of seating, but with serious power under the hood.
Dodge calls the new Durango Hellcat "a muscle SUV for muscle car people with families." It's also for anyone with an active lifestyle. Where prior high-output SUVs sacrificed utility values like towing and payload capacity, the Durango Hellcat gives you everything you need, plus power.
The heart of the Hellcat is Dodge's 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine. It's rated at 710 horsepower and 645 pound-feet of torque. To get all that power down, the Durango Hellcat uses an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission with all-wheel-drive. The result is an SUV that will hit 60 MPH in 3.5 heartbeat-skipping seconds. If you take this Durango to the late night drag races at Portland International Raceway next summer, you can expect to run the quarter-mile in 11.5 seconds, right off the showroom floor. Oh, the top speed is 180 MPH, but you'd have to go to the salt flats in Utah to test that.
Inside the Durango Hellcat, you get Dodge's wonderfully throwback interior. It's as comfortable as any modern vehicle, with a huge 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system, navigation, and all the tech, but it feels like a traditional muscle car. You can get the whole thing outfitted in red leather, or choose traditional black if you want to be a little less flashy. But admit it, if you're going to spend $80,995 on this SUV, you'll want the red leather.
To test-drive the Durango Hellcat, we went to Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, South Carolina. A race track is pretty much the only place you can let this Hellcat off the leash safely. On the straights, the Durango performs as expected. It's crazy fast, and rockets out of the turns. You'll hit triple-digit speeds before you think to look down at the speedometer. Luckily, Dodge also gave the Durango huge brakes to haul you back down to mortal speeds before you enter the next corner.
It's in those corners that the Durango really surprised me. Yes, 5,710 pounds is a lot of weight to move around, but the Durango's all-wheel-drive made it sure-footed and allowed us to corner faster and with confidence that the Hellcat was going to go where I wanted it to go.
After getting my heart rate up on the track, we took a break and tested the Durango's towing capability. The Durango Hellcat can tow up to 8,700 pounds, which is great for any SUV. We hooked up a dual-axle trailer with a Dodge Challenger on the back and went for a tow. The supercharged V8 adapts well to the torque-based performance you need to pull out and accelerate up to traffic speeds. The Durango tows with calmness and aplomb, which is what you want. Towing can be stressful at the best of times, and the Durango makes it easy.
Dodge says the Durango SRT Hellcat will be a one-year model. If you want one, get to your Dodge dealer now and get your name on the list. If you take a test drive, you will not be disappointed.
2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat
Base price: $80,995
Price as tested: $80,995
Type: Mid-size SUV
Engine: 6.2-liter supercharged V8 (710 hp, 645 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: TBD
Overall length: 201 inches
Curb weight: 5,710 pounds
Final assembly: Detroit, Michigan
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