by Morgan Carter
Take a big, boring family SUV, strap a rocket pack to it, and you have yourself a Dodge Durango SRT. Three rows of seating and a big ol' Hemi V8 make it the muscle car of family SUVs, but based on aging architecture and with limited safety features found even on the options list, the Durango SRT could easily be trouble in the wrong hands. However, if you're a confident driver and want to give the kids a thrill on the daily commute to school, the V8 generating 475 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque will do the job. There are certainly more modern and practical family SUVs out there, like the Kia Telluride or Hyundai Palisade. They offer better-appointed interiors, a smoother ride, and much more modern tech, but they aren't nearly as unreasonably fun.
For 2020, the almost decade-old Durango SRT gets no notable updates. There are a few new exterior color customization choices, though, such as the Redline stripe aesthetic. The Black Appearance Package gives the SRT a Midnight Grey Metallic coating with Gloss Black exterior accents and 20-inch Matte Vapor wheels.
6.4-liter V8 Gas
The large 20-inch alloy wheels on the Durango SRT certainly don't look out of place on such a chunky SUV. They suit the long, tall profile of the SRT, which is fronted by a rugged front fascia sporting a wide performance grille accented in black, with a second grille set within the lower bumper. Astride the upper grille is a pair of brick-like HID headlights, while LED fog lights are embedded within the lower bumper. The rear fascia is flat and blocky, sporting a power liftgate and LED taillights. The already aggressive appearance of the powerhouse crossover can be further enhanced by adding racing stripes to really accentuate the Durango's high-performance capabilities.
Nothing about the Durango, inside or out, is small. The SUV stands a proud 71.9 inches tall, with a 119.8-inch wheelbase nestled within the 201.2-inch body. Yet, despite this, the Dodge can fit into most parking spaces with its width of 75.8 inches. It's also a pretty capable off-roader thanks to its 8.1-inch ground clearance. However, its approach and departure angles aren't particularly good at 16.3 and 21.5 degrees, respectively. It's also exceedingly heavy, weighing over two and a half tons at 5,510 pounds curb weight.
A total of ten colors comprise the palette for the Dodge Durango, with nine coming at no extra cost. Among these are DB Black, Granite, Destroyer Grey, Billet, Reactor Blue Pearl, Octane Red Pearl, Redline 2 Pearl, F8 Green, and White Knuckle. For an additional $595, you can opt for the premium Vice White paint. There are also a number of stripe options, including Bright Blue dual stripes, Flame Red dual stripes, or Black/Red center stripes. The dual stripes cost $1,195, while the center stripes cost $1,295.
You may not think that a large three-row SUV could compete with the fastest sports cars on the drag strip, but Dodge is here to prove you dead wrong with its super-powered Dodge Durango SRT. The V8 under the hood reins in an impressive 475 ponies and 470 lb-ft to give the six-seater a whiplash-inducing manufacturer claimed 0-60 mph sprint time of just 4.4 seconds. But power is all the SRT really has going for it, as its ungainly proportions negatively impact its handling dynamics. Even with standard all-wheel-drive, the bulky SUV won't be encouraging you to take corners at the break-neck speeds that the powertrain is capable of reaching.
But, while the more truck-like size may hold the Durango back a bit from feeling as sporty as its more conventional crossover rivals, it also gives the SUV the sturdy frame and weight it needs to tow loads of up to 8,700 lbs when correctly outfitted. This is about 1,000 lbs more than what the top-rated Range Rover can handle.
While the Dodge Durango range gets access to a number of engines, the top-tier SRT only gets the most powerful of these. Developing 475 hp and 470 lb-ft, the 6.4-liter V8 HEMI 8HP70 engine comes mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that directs the power to all four wheels.
These outputs are more than enough to move even something as heavy as the Durango, and the sound the engine makes when performing this Herculean task is truly glorious. Throttle responses are smooth and direct, and the SUV gets around town with absolutely no difficulty. On the highway, the only problem when passing will be those around you heaving mild heart attacks when the engine roars and you go soaring past them.
The Durango is not a graceful vehicle; it's basically a jet engine crammed into a six-seater SUV. There is more power on tap than any family vehicle could ever need, but all that power can be hard to control. Moving at anything more than a sedate crawl, the large crossover rolls and lurches around corners, requiring constant driver attention. That's not to say it can't be a fun drive, quite the opposite, but it can be unsettling in the hands of a novice.
Still, the roar of the V8 as you let it loose on the broad boulevards simply begs you to try taming the beast. Unfortunately, Dodge doesn't give you the tools to properly do so. The steering is accurate enough around town at lower speeds, but control becomes a lot stiffer in the almost five seconds it takes to hurtle past 60 mph. On the plus side, the brakes are quite capable, but stopping a two-and-a-half-ton SUV on a dime is quite impossible.
It's not just the steering that can be a little stiff, though. The suspension isn't as soft as we'd expect from such a large family cruiser, with bumps and road abrasions traveling through to the cabin. Luckily, the seats are comfortable and well-bolstered, helping to mitigate some of the discomfort. The cabin is also dampened from most exterior noise, but there's simply no keeping out the roar of the V8 when you apply the throttle - but, who would want to?
Weighing in at well over two tons, the SUV can't be expected to get particularly impressive gas mileage. The V8 engine is certainly powerful, but moving such a heavy load with so many cylinders drinks gasoline like a frat boy on spring break. With only one transmission and drivetrain available, the Durango only gets 13/19/15 mpg across the city/highway/combined segments. Most rivals get significantly better fuel economy by virtue of using turbocharged four- or six-cylinder engines, like the Lincoln Aviator, which gets 17/24/20 with its all-wheel drivetrain. The fuel tank on the Durango is quite large at 24.6 gallons, enabling the SUV to cover up to 369 miles before scurrying into a gas station to refuel.
The interior of the Durango is certainly a spacious and comfortable place to spend the time, but it's not as luxurious as you might expect from a $60k SUV. Despite seating six passengers in total, there is more than enough space to go around inside the cabin, and even the trunk gets its fair share. The materials look nice, but they're not overly high-quality, although the seats are very comfortable and well-bolstered. There is a fair amount of tech around the cabin, but advanced driver-assistance features are almost non-existent. Luckily, the infotainment suite is comprehensive and extremely easy to use, with smartphone integration and Wi-Fi coming standard.
There is certainly no lack of space inside the Dodge Durango. The long wheelbase creates a broad cabin that easily accommodates three rows of seats. However, each of the rear rows only comprises two seats, giving the SUV a total capacity of six passengers. But, this also means that each of those passengers gets a pretty decent amount of room, a rare luxury in three-row SUVs. Naturally, those up front get the most space, but the second-row seats only lose a couple of inches. The rearmost seats manage to supply enough room to comfortably seat adults, even over long drives. The front seats offer eight directions of power-adjustability, while the driver's seat comes with memory functions. The front seats are heated and ventilated, while the second-row seats are just heated. Getting in and out is pretty simple thanks to the layout of the seats, but the long dimensions of the SUV and the huge rear pillars create some glaring blind spots, so you may want to opt for the available blind spot monitor.
The Durango looks good inside, but the materials used are not as upscale as what more prestigious rivals use. The seats come trimmed in leather as standard, although Black is the only color offered. If you want something a bit more eye-catching, you can add $1,595 to the final bill to get the high-performance Laguna leather seats in Demonic Red. Build-quality is as average as the materials, too. It's hardy and consistent, but nothing to write home about.
Considering how much space is dedicated to the passengers, the Durango still manages to supply a pretty spacious trunk. Behind the third-row seats, 17.2 cubic feet is available for daily use. This makes the Dodge one of the rare three-row SUVs to maintain high practicality with all the seats in place. While there is certainly enough for most daily needs, such as grocery shopping or stowing the kids' school bags, the trunk can be expanded by folding down each of the rear seat rows. With the third row down, 43.3 cubic feet is available, while folding down the second row, too, frees up a total area of 85.1 cubic feet.
But, it's not just the trunk that is generous with space. There are plenty of small-item storage options around the cabin. There is a standard glove compartment and four door pockets capable of accommodating water bottles. The front armrest cubby is quite large, and there is a second-row armrest, too, with its own cubby and cupholders. There are cupholders for each of the other rows, too, and an overhead storage console up front.
The SRT comes equipped with tri-zone climate control, keyless entry and ignition, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and cruise control as standard, while adaptive cruise control can be optioned on. All six seats come upholstered in genuine leather, with the front seats offering eight-way power-adjustability, heating, and ventilation, while the second-row seats offer only heating. Three power outlets are spread around the cabin: two 12-volt and one 115-volt. Standard safety features include a rearview camera, and front and rear park assist, while forward collision avoidance, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert are available. A power sunroof can also be specced as a standalone option.
Dodge's latest Uconnect 4C infotainment suite comes standard on the Durango SRT, with the 8.4-inch touchscreen interface granting access to Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot. The standard sound system is a nine-speaker Alpine set-up that offers HD Radio and SiriusXM playback, alongside the standard AM/FM Radio. Two USB ports are provided to charge your smart devices, while an auxiliary audio input jack supplements the smartphone integration. For truly pristine audio quality, there is an available 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, while the optional rear-seat entertainment system comprises dual screens with Blu-Ray capability.
The Durango enjoys a pretty high dependability rating of 80 out of 100, as awarded by J.D. Power. This is further reflected by the lack of any recalls over the last two years. The last recalls were issued in 2018, for reasons that included the installation of the incorrect transmission rods, the inability to cancel the cruise control, and the possibility that the voltage regulator may fail. Every new Durango purchase is covered by a 36,000-mile/36-month basic warranty, while the roadside assistance plan is valid for the period of the powertrain warranty - 60,000 miles/60 months.
The NHTSA awards the Dodge Durango a respectable crash safety score of four out of five stars overall, while the IIHS gives it a top rating of Good in four crash tests, but a subpar rating of Marginal for small front overlap on the driver's side.
Being based on such an old platform, the Dodge Durango simply doesn't have the infrastructure to support the most modern advanced safety features. It still gets the basics, though, like ABS, stability and traction control, hill start assist, and seven airbags: dual front, driver knee, front side, and side curtain. It also gets the standard rearview camera, as well as front and rear parking sensors. The only available advanced driver-assistance features of blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, advanced brake assist, full-speed forward collision avoidance, and lane departure warning plus are added by means of the Technology Group or standalone blind spot monitoring.
While it may boast practical passenger and cargo space, the Dodge Durango SRT is not a practical vehicle. But, sometimes, practicality is overrated. If you want a large SUV that can fit the kids, the dog, and the kitchen sink, while still pulling the caravan for a weekend away, then it would be hard to go wrong with the Durango.
The inside of this ten-year-old car may not be that modern, but there are enough modern features like smartphone integration and rear-seat DVD players to give it the illusion of being more high-tech. It's also spacious enough to make up for any shortcomings in the features list, although the lacking driver-assistance features are a bit disconcerting in a family hauler. Nevertheless, the ample passenger space is complemented by a larger-than-average trunk for the segment and plenty of power to get you up even the most imposing of mountains on the way to your campsite.
Around town, the SRT has more power than it knows what to do with, making it a blustery attention-grabber, but it's hard to really enjoy the drive, and the clunky crossover isn't as nimble as some of its more modern, refined rivals. It's fuel economy figures certainly speak to a lack of refinement, too, and the interior is not as upscale as we'd like in this price bracket.
There are certainly more expensive three-row SUVs on the market, but the Dodge Durango is still relatively pricey, considering the model is almost a decade old now. The most powerful iteration of the SUV, the SRT, is only available in a single trim. Excluding tax, registration, and licensing, this will set you back $62,995. After you add on Dodge's $1,495 destination charge and the price of some of the much-desired optional packages, you can expect to pay in the region of $70k.
Only one model in the Durango range makes use of the powerful 6.4-liter HEMI V8 engine, which is the SRT. The powertrain develops 475 hp and 470 lb-ft, which is regulated by an eight-speed automatic transmission and directed to all four wheels.
The powerful SUV rides on 20-inch alloy wheels and comes equipped with automatic HID headlights, LED fog lights, LED taillights, and LED daytime running lights. The spacious interior is upholstered in plush leather, with eight-way power front seats coming standard. Tri-zone automatic climate control regulates the interior, while heated and ventilated front seats, and heated second-row seats help to mitigate cold-weather conditions. An 8.4-inch Uconnect display organizes the infotainment, which comprises Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM, and HD Radio, all played back through the standard nine-speaker Alpine sound system. A 4G Wi-Fi hotspot is also offered, along with two USB ports, two 12-volt power outlets, and a 115-volt outlet. Driver-assistance features are limited to a rearview camera, and front and rear park assist.
The Durango SRT comes with quite a decent amount of standard tech - being the range-topper of the Durango lineup - but that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. The mediocre cabin materials can be upgraded with a suede headliner, real carbon fiber trim, and a premium wrapped instrument panel by speccing the Premium Interior Group ($2,495). If you want the few available driver-assistance features, then the Technology Group ($2,395) adds adaptive cruise control, advanced brake assist, full-speed forward collision avoidance, and lane departure warning plus. To max out the SUV's towing capabilities, you'll need to tack on the Trailer-Tow Group IV ($1,195), which equips the Durango with a 7- and 4-pin wiring harness, a class-IV receiver hitch, and trailer brake control.
There is only one Durango that gets the most powerful V8 engine, and that's the SRT. It comes well-equipped right from the get-go, but it's still a very old model, which means it doesn't get all the same standard equipment you'd expect to find on a more modern purchase. To try to bring it more up to par with the competition, we certainly suggest that you spec on the Technology Group to get access to the advanced driver-assistance features. If you plan to do a lot of heavyweight towing, you will want the Trailer-Tow Group IV, too.
Based on the same platform as the Dodge Durango, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is no more a practical vehicle than its cousin. In fact, it's even less practical. Where the Dodge tries to blend family hauling and daily drivability with sheer power and a flair for fun, the Grand Cherokee says to hell with the former, and focuses purely on the latter. Both SRT models are powered by the same HEMI V8, so they get the same output, but the Jeep is smaller and more nimble. This does mean that there isn't as much passenger or cargo room to work with, though. However, the cabin is more plushly appointed than that of the Durango, and the Cherokee gets a lot more standard driver-assistance features, like forward collision avoidance, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Naturally, you'll have to pay up for the more premium interior and better tech. If you need a family SUV that can probably tow the whole house, too, then the Dodge is the better choice, as it can tow more than a 1,000 lbs over the Jeep's limit. However, the Grand Cherokee SRT is the more engaging driver, and a vastly more capable off-roader.
The Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is the Cherokee SRT's gym-bunny big brother, packing a ridiculously overpowered supercharged V8 under the hood. With 707 hp and 645 lb-ft on hand, the Trackhawk leaves almost every other car on the road in its dust, accelerating to 60 mph from a standstill in a ludicrous 3.5 seconds. Like its SRT variant, the Trackhawk is smaller than the Durango, seating only five as standard, but it still manages to offer a fair amount of cargo space and plenty of standard tech. Inside, it is even more opulent than the SRT, but it also carries an almost $90k price tag. In terms of fun driving, the Jeep won't be beaten, but all that power doesn't make it any better at towing, so the Dodge still wins in that regard. If you can afford it, though, the Trackhawk is hard to pass on for its sheer unadulterated fun factor. But the Dodge Durango is still technically more practical.
Check out some informative Dodge Durango SRT video reviews below.