Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
Wow! Now that was a thrilling and vicious drive experience. With 710-horsepower and 645 lb-ft of torque packed under the bulged performance hood, the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat AWD is not your everyday family SUV. The courageous nature and potent power of the “hype beast” are reserved for individuals requiring daily euphoric energy to enhance their lifestyles, but with the ability to entertain a caravan of six while blazing to adventure parks at a 0-60 mph pace of just 3.5 seconds!
My Durango SRT Hellcat arrived in a Destroyer Gray Clear-Coat paint scheme minus the contrasting black racing stripes and a captivating Black and Demonic Red Laguna leather interior with matching seatbelts. My teen daughter loves anything Dodge and remained enthusiastic through the entirety of the press loan. Even when I floored it, she seemed to revel in the supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI Hellcat V8’s acceleration. On the other hand, my wife was scared out of her mind and never returned to the passenger seat again, lol. Paired with the fast-reacting TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission with tall paddle shifters attached to the thick SRT flat-bottom racing steering wheel, the super SUV has a top speed of 180 mph and hits a quarter-mile in 11.5 seconds.
“Durango is our Dodge three-row muscle car,” said Tim Kuniskis, Global Head of Alfa Romeo and Head of Passenger Cars – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA – North America. “Nowhere but Dodge can you find an SUV that can tow more or carry more with a faster quarter-time than the Durango SRT Hellcat.”
Sadly, the Durango SRT Hellcat will only be produced for the 2021 model year. It’s instantly recognizable by dark 20 x 10” lights-out aluminum rims wrapped in the confidant 295/45 ZR 20 Pirelli Verde Zero all-season tires, an aggressive chin spoiler (splitter) for added downforce, robust wheel arches, Eclipse Black dual exhaust tips, wicked LED headlamps, and a new special tailgate spoiler for a rear downforce increase of 400%. Around town, standard Electric Power Steering (EPS) with Selectable Steering Tuning made my turns effortless at cruising speeds and stern once I dialed it up. The boastful SUV also stops instantly with 6-piston front 2-piece Brembo calipers, 4-piston rear calipers, and vented rotors on all fours (15.75” front and 13.8” rear).
SRT engineers retooled the Durango to make sure it operates as intended at high and lower speeds. The utility features race-inspired technologies such as Launch Control, Launch Assist, high-caliber exhaust system, standard SRT Drive modes, and SRT Performance Pages. I spent some time setting up my vehicle, which allows you to augment Street (Auto), Sport, and Track preferences. Through the 10.1” Uconnect 5 touchscreen, owners can customize stability control, shift speeds, steering, paddle shifters, traction, all-wheel drive (AWD), and suspension settings. There are also settings for Snow, Eco, and Tow modes, which by the way, the Durango SRT Hellcat can pull 8,700 lbs.
The electrifying cabin is both comfortable and intelligent. It includes Forged Carbon Fiber interior accents as part of the Premium Interior Group ($2,495), metal pedals with rubber bumpers, black and red meters, 2nd-row captain chairs with a center console, upgraded 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system ($1,085), wireless charging pad, and a $1,995 second-row DVD entertainment center. However, this rear seat-mounted system is unnecessary. I’m not sure why automakers continue to make them.
The dutiful 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat AWD starts at $80,995 minus the $1,495 destination charge. My loaner included a few more upgrades like the Black Package ($1,845) and totaled $92,690. This includes one full day of instructional driving skills at the Bondurant High Performance Driving School in Chandler, Arizona, which Dodge sponsors. Now, if you love the Durango but do not need racetrack intentions, then tone it down with either a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 model or the 5.7-liter HEMI variant. Durango choices include the SXT, GT, R/T, Citadel, or the SRT 392. Enjoy!