The name Hellcat instills fear in just about anyone, even more so when you pull up at the lights alongside a family of six in the ultimate muscle machine: the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat. Buyers in search of the best tow vehicle (that isn't a pickup truck) have long turned to the standard Durango. Although it hasn't received a major update since the 2014 model year, Dodge continually updated the powertrains, culminating in the V8 HEMI-powered SRT model. But in typical Dodge fashion, even the 475-horsepower SRT model wasn't potent enough. That's why for 2021, the Dodge Durango has spawned its own Hellcat variant.
The 2021 Dodge Durango Hellcat arrives as a specialty model for just a single model year. It packs the same 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8 engine found in other Hellcat models, tuned to produce 710 horsepower. For those keeping track, the Durango Hellcat is now the most powerful SUV in the world, with even luxury performance machines like the Mercedes-AMG GLS63 failing to match its might. Along with the massive power increase, the entire Durango lineup sees the most significant interior update since the third-generation model arrived in 2010. Dodge sent us to North Carolina to experience the new Durango Hellcat on and off the race track.
The Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat is a new arrival for the 2021 model year and becomes what the brand claims is the most powerful SUV ever. It uses a 6.2-liter Hemi Hellcat supercharged engine that is good for 710 horsepower, propelling this three-row super SUV to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds. The V8 is paired with an eight-speed automatic, while this hot SUV also gets launch control, a Brembo braking system, and an upgraded suspension. A low-gloss black grille and a unique chin splitter set apart this Durango from less powerful versions, while inside, an upgraded 10.1-inch touchscreen takes care of infotainment duties. The Durango SRT Hellcat will only be built for the 2021 model year.
6.2-liter Supercharged V8 Gas
The Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat proves that spacious, family-sized SUVs don't have to be boring. Although this basic Durango shape has been around for a while, it has aged well and the Hellcat touches add substantially more aggression. Outside, it gets upgrades like a body-color lower splitter, a special black grille, and red Brembo brake calipers. A center air intake along with dual heat extractors form part of the bulging hood design, while LED headlamps and LED fog lamps are standard. The 20-inch alloy wheels come with mid-gloss black pockets and a machined face finish. Dual center stripes and a power sunroof are available.
While all Durangos share a 119.8-inch wheelbase, the SRT Hellcat is longer than the regular Durango with a length of 201 inches. Other dimensions differ as well, as the super SUV has a body width (excluding the mirrors) of 76.4 inches, compared to the standard Durango's 75.8 inches. The SUV's height at the antenna works out to 72.1 inches. If you want to scare a few Land Rovers on rougher terrain, the SRT Hellcat's approach/breakover/departure angles work out to 18.5/16.3/20.2 inches, respectively. Unsurprisingly, the SRT Hellcat is now the heaviest Durango of all with a curb weight of 5,710 pounds, which is 332 lbs more than the SRT 392, which is reviewed separately.
Dodge's range of exterior color choices is as extroverted as the Durango itself. These shades include Billet Silver, Destroyer Grey, Octane Red, F8 Green, Redline 2, Granite, Octane Red, DB Black, and Reactor Blue. F8 Green is our personal favorite, but any of the colors look great on the updated SUV. The SRT Hellcat is enhanced with a black grille featuring a performance inner section and red brake calipers. Dual-center stripes in colors like Bright Blue, Gun Metal Low Gloss, Flame Red, Sterling Silver, and Redline are also on offer.
There simply aren't three-row performance SUVs that can compete with the Durango SRT Hellcat's outrageous performance figures. The benchmark 0 to 60 mph run is done and dusted in just 3.5 seconds, but the Hellcat keeps hauling beyond that mark and will cross the quarter-mile in just 11.5 seconds. According to Dodge, the Hellcat's 2.1-mile road course lap time is 1.5 seconds quicker than the Durango SRT 392, the next most powerful Durango. A top speed of 180 mph is achievable. Standard all-wheel drive, launch control, and launch assist help the Durango SRT Hellcat put down the epic 710 horsepower and 645 lb-ft of torque delivered by the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine. One of the few performance SUVs that can match the powerful Durango up to 60 mph is the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, but other three-row SUVs like the Ford Explorer ST have nothing comparable. Even the BMW Alpina XB7 and Mercedes-AMG GLS63 fall to the Durango Hellcat's might. The Durango SRT Hellcat also has an excellent maximum towing capacity of 8,700 lbs, the best in its class.
Not many SUVs are as defined by their engines as this one. At the heart of the Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat is the 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 engine with a massive 710 hp and 645 lb-ft of torque. All of that power goes to all four corners via an eight-speed automatic TorqueFlite transmission that comes with standard paddle shifters. The combination makes for riveting progress, with the big SUV blasting off the mark with similar ferociousness as the drag superstar that is the Challenger. With standard launch control and launch assist, the Durango effectively eliminates tire slip and wheel hop for aggressive, smooth launches. As expected, there is more passing power on tap than most will ever need; this is one SUV that you'll spend more time reining in than anything else.
Though it still feels blisteringly quick, it is worth noting that the tuning on the eight-speed TorqueFlight transmission feels more restrained than in other Hellcats like the Charger and Challenger. Perhaps Dodge knew Durango Hellcat owners might still want a livable SUV that can also go fast. The shifts come as quickly as we'd like, though they lack the available ferocity found in the Charger or Challenger.
Dodge's Hellcat models have always been characterized by huge power that's tricky to put down without a perfectly straight road and ideal weather conditions. Driving one of these cars on a race track or in the rain can be risky business, but the Durango Hellcat completely eliminates the terror associated with over 700 horsepower going to the rear wheels. This is the first Hellcat model with all-wheel-drive (not counting the Jeep Trackhawk), and it makes us wonder why Dodge didn't implement it sooner. It doesn't matter if the road is soaked, this Hellcat is still capable of putting down its power on-demand. Having this level of access to over 700 horsepower without the fear of spinning the rear tires gives the drive somewhat of a God complex. We will warn not to get too confident in the AWD system, though, because the Durango Hellcat is so powerful, it can still light up all four wheels in the wet.
Should the Durango Hellcat find itself on a dry section of road, it blasts away like a school bus strapped to the Falcon 9 rocket. We had a chance to experience the Hellcat at the Carolina Motorsports Park, in a situation that few Durango owners will ever experience. While it's not an ideal track vehicle, the Durango handled itself better than we anticipated. Dodge paid special attention to the suspension, adding Bilstein rebound springs and stiffening the rear end to provide more grip and eliminate understeer. Despite its massive size and curb weight, the Durango feels easier to pilot around a track than other Hellcat models thanks to its inclusion of AWD. Just get it around a corner, plant the throttle, and let the supercharged HEMI take care of the rest.
As a cruiser, the Durango Hellcat suffers from some drawbacks associated with its increased performance. The adaptive suspension, while comfy on smooth roads, can bounce occupants around over torn up pavement. Kids in the back may end up car sick, especially if mom or dad decides to put it in Sport or Race mode on a bumpy back road. Speaking of the kids in the back, they may want to bring a good set of noise-canceling headphones because the Hellcat's exhaust isn't really capable of shutting up. Hopefully, the kids enjoy sleeping with a V8 rumble and supercharger whine in the background, but in case they don't, it's a good thing the Durango Hellcat has a rear-seat entertainment system on offer to drown out the noise.
Official fuel economy figures are still to be released for the Durango SRT Hellcat at the time of writing, but this is going to be one thirsty beast. The non-Hellcat Durango SRT's EPA-rated figures work out to 13/19/15 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles, and we wouldn't be surprised if the Hellcat was even heavier on gas than that. Despite the fitment of a large 24.6-gallon gas tank, we don't expect a range in mixed driving of more than about 360 miles.
Despite coming in at over $80,000, most of the Durango SRT Hellcat's steep price tag has gone towards endowing this hot SUV with its towering performance more than anything else. Bearing that in mind, some of the interior materials may come as a disappointment, but you don't buy a Dodge for Audi-like quality. There are some nice touches, though, and it's much plusher than entry-level Durangos with Nappa leather/suede seats and a neat center stack with chrome toggle switches. The new 10.1-inch touchscreen display with navigation is a welcome upgrade as well. This is a comfortable three-row SUV, with spacious seating and comfortable chairs, although the third row is predictably the most difficult one to gain access to. With its sporty SRT touches, the Durango's cabin will be appreciated by keener drivers and families alike.
Dodge offers a ton of flexibility within the Durango lineup depending on family size. The Durango is the first Hellcat model to offer three rows of seating for up to six passengers, though Dodge also offers to delete the third row for no-cost, making the Durango Hellcat a five-seater. Headroom is generous in all except the third row, and second-row passengers receive 38.6 inches of legroom, just edging out the Chevrolet Traverse but failing to match the Ford Explorer in this regard. Most third-row seats in this category are tight for adults, but the Durango's feel livable in a pinch. Buyers who plan to frequently use the third row will have to step up to the larger Chevy Tahoe/Suburban, Ford Expedition, or GMC Yukon, sacrificing performance for the sake of comfort.
On the upper dashboard and door panels, the Durango SRT Hellcat offers a decent selection of soft-touch materials as part of a predominantly dark environment. The black seats are trimmed in a combination of Nappa leather and suede with silver accent stitching, along with an embroidered SRT Hellcat logo on the backrests. For more flair, performance Laguna leather seats in Demonic Red are available, as are Demonic Red seatbelts, while the $2,495 Premium Interior Group adds red leather to the center console. A leather-wrapped center console lid is included, while the black velour floor mats contain another SRT logo. Forged carbon fiber accents and a Dinamica soft-touch headliner are optional. This facelift did wonders for the Durango's interior, making it feel far more premium than before, but it still isn't a premium car.
Even with all the seats in their upright positions, the Durango still has a fairly spacious 17.2 cubic feet behind the third row, which is more than enough space for the weekly run to the grocery store. The 50/50 split-folding third row can be lowered to free up a generous cargo area of 43.3 cubes while lowering the second row opens up an expansive 85.1 cubes.
In terms of interior storage space, the door pockets are not as large as you'd expect in a big SUV. To the right of the shift lever, there are two illuminated cupholders, while a mini floor console in the second row also contains cupholders. A well-sized center console storage compartment, an overhead front console, and a small netted storage area in the front passenger footwell provide more space for smaller items. There are also map pockets on the backs of the front seats that can accommodate books or iPads.
As the range-topping Durango, the SRT Hellcat comes with plenty of goodies to keep the driver and passengers entertained. The super SUV comes with three-zone automatic climate control, a seven-inch reconfigurable digital gauge cluster, Sapphire Blue ambient LED lighting, a power liftgate, auto high-beam headlights, remote start, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Both front seats come with eight-way power adjustment, heating, ventilation, and power lumbar support, while the driver gets a memory system. The standard second-row captain's chairs have seat-mounted armrests and heating as well. On the safety front, the Durango comes with hill start assist, front/rear parking sensors, trailer-sway control, and a rearview camera. Optional equipment includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control.
The big story in the dashboard of the 2021 Durango is the introduction of a new Uconnect 5 NAV infotainment system. It lives on a class-leading 10.1-inch touchscreen and is powered by an Android operating system. This new system adds a slew of features, including wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, Amazon Alexa integration, SiriusXM support, navigation, and the ability to pair two Bluetooth devices at once. Put simply, Uconnect 5 might be the best-looking and most intuitive infotainment system available: it has almost zero learning curve. Though nothing can overpower the roar of the HEMI engine, a 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system is available for just $995 to replace the standard nine-speaker Alpine setup. An optional rear-seat entertainment system with a Blu-Ray player is less of a bargain for $1,995.
Although the new Durango SRT Hellcat hasn't yet been rated by J.D. Power, last year's Durango SRT put in a solid showing with an overall score of 83 out of 100. At the time of writing, the 2021 Dodge Durango lineup had not yet been subjected to any recalls by the NHTSA.
Unfortunately, Dodge's warranty isn't the best, with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. The offering does not include complimentary scheduled maintenance.
While the Hellcat version hasn't been individually tested, it should perform similarly to the rest of the Durango lineup in a crash. The 2021 Dodge Durango has only been partially tested by the NHTSA for crashworthiness. It managed a three-star rating for the rollover test and a five-star rating for the side crash, while in 2020, it scored four stars overall. Over at the IIHS, the 2020 Durango doesn't quite have a perfect scorecard as it only attained a Marginal rating for the small overlap front driver-side test and the same Marginal score for the headlights. However, all other crashworthiness scores were Good.
It's rather disappointing that most of the Durango SRT Hellcat's driver aids are options, not standard equipment. That includes technologies like adaptive cruise control, advanced brake assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision alert with active braking, and lane departure warning. More basic driver aids do come as standard, though, such as front/rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. Other inclusions extend to electronic stability control, all-speed traction control, hill-start assist, rain brake support, and trailer-sway control. As the high-performance SRT Hellcat, it's good to know that powerful Brembo brakes with two-piece front rotors are standard. A full complement of airbags includes dual front and side-curtain airbags for all rows, along with a driver's knee airbag and a supplemental front-seat side airbag.
The terms "family car" and "supercharged V8" probably shouldn't go together, but in the world of Dodge lunacy, the Durango Hellcat pairs these in the most hilarious way possible. Justifying the Durango Hellcat to a spouse might be tricky, especially after the fuel economy figures are revealed, but after all, this is still a vehicle that can carry up to six people with a boat or trailer in tow while still packing enough power to scare a Nissan GT-R at the drag strip. You can't say that about many muscle cars, let alone SUVs. Think of it this way; a Dodge Charger Hellcat has five seats, but it wouldn't be able to take the kids to school in the snow, whereas the Durango Hellcat isn't flummoxed by the weather; it spits in the face of Mother Nature.
Aside from the similarly powered (but more expensive and less practical) Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, there are no SUVs that can match the Durango Hellcat in straight-line performance. Even the Alpina XB7 and AMG GLS63 (both of which cost well over $100,000) lack the Hellcat's massive power. In many ways then, this is not simply the ultimate Hellcat model or muscle car on the market, it's also the coolest SUV on the planet. Yes, the standard Durango models are just as practical, but for the ultimate family thrill ride, the Durango Hellcat can not be beaten.
Over 700 horses in a three-row SUV doesn't come cheaply. The 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat carries a steep starting MSRP of $80,995, which is a significant $18,000 more than the Durango SRT 392, reviewed separately. This price excludes a destination charge of $1,495 along with tax, licensing, and registration costs. Fully loaded, we rang up a Durango SRT Hellcat to a relatively insane $98,025 including destination.
The Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat sits on top of the Durango pile as a single model that will only be manufactured for the 2021 model year. It receives the full-fat 6.2-liter Hemi supercharged V8 engine with an epic 710 horsepower and 645 lb-ft of torque. Helping to manage all of that grunt is standard all-wheel drive, launch control, launch assist, and an eight-speed automatic transmission. This three-row monster will blast to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 180 mph.
Flaunting its performance potential are items like 20-inch alloy wheels, dual rear exhausts with bright tips, a black performance grille, and a special hood with a center air intake and dual heat extractors. LED exterior lighting is standard and a power sunroof is optional.
Inside, a mix of black Nappa leather and suede covers the sporty seats. The front chairs are heated, ventilated, and power-adjustable, while the second-row captain's chairs are heated as well. Standard features include three-zone automatic climate control, a 10.1-inch touchscreen display, a nine-speaker premium Alpine sound system, and multiple USB ports. Improving driver visibility is a rearview camera, while front/rear parking sensors are standard.
Several packages are on offer for the top-dog Durango. One of the main ones we'd go for is the Technology Group, which adds several driver aids that we consider important for what will still be used as a family vehicle; among these are adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning, bundled together for $2,395. Less sensible, but more in tune with that Hellcat badge, is the Lightweight Performance Package which dispenses with the added weight of the third row of seats while replacing the second-row captain's chairs with a simpler bench seat arrangement for no cost. The kids will love the available DVD rear entertainment system with Blu-Ray player, which adds two screens to the front seatbacks for $1,995. The SRT Black Package, meanwhile, adds more attitude via Grey metallic badging, gloss black mirror caps, Eclipse Black tint exhaust tips, and a unique "Lights Out" finish for the 20-inch wheels. For a touch of added luxury, the Premium Interior Package equips the SUV with a premium-wrapped instrument panel, forged carbon fiber accents, and a soft-touch Dinamica headliner, but it will cost you $2,495.
As the flagship Durango model, the Hellcat comes pretty well equipped for its $80,995 base price. That doesn't mean we'd recommend buying it without any options, though. We aren't fans of the standard 20-inch two-tone wheels, so we'd recommend the $1,495 Black Package that adds black wheels and other black exterior accents. The 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system is a bargain for $995 and we might as well throw in the 2nd-row armrest for $595 and sunroof for $1,295. For a more luxurious feel, the Premium Interior Group adds forged carbon fiber trim, a premium instrument panel, and a suede headliner for $2,495. Adding the Tech Group for $2,395 and blind-spot monitoring for $495 rolls in all of the safety tech and the $1,195 Trailer-Tow Group IV is important for drivers who plan to tow. The Durango Hellcat rings in at just over $92,000 as-configured.
Another hot SUV from within the Fiat Chrysler stable, the Jeep Grand Cherokee begins at around 10 grand less although its 6.4-liter Hemi V8 isn't as powerful, making "only" 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. It takes 4.3 seconds to hit 60 mph, nearly a second off the pace of the supercharged Durango SRT Hellcat. However, at an even more expensive price of over $85,000, the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is a better match for the hottest Durango in terms of straight-line pace. That said, the Grand Cherokee only seats five people, can only tow up to 7,200 lbs (compared to the Durango's 8,700 lbs), and doesn't have as much cargo space. In the unlikely case that you intend to take these high-performance SUVs off-road, the Jeep will be a better bet for the job with its superior approach/departure angles. For its sheer audacity to brandish 710 horses in an SUV that can seat six, we'll take the manic Durango SRT Hellcat.
Do you really need all that power? Lower down in the Durango lineup, there is far more value to be found, but with the added muscle that you won't find in other three-row SUVs. The Durango R/T is an excellent example of this. At a starting price of $45,305 for the RWD model, it is almost half the price of the SRT Hellcat. It comes with a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine that makes 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque, so there is still plenty of power on tap even if it can't match the SRT Hellcat. The R/T doesn't have the Hellcat's adaptive damping suspension and misses out on luxuries like ventilated front seats, but it is otherwise similarly equipped and can be comprehensively optioned. There is nothing quite like the new Durango SRT Hellcat, but the R/T proves that you don't need to spend crazy money to get a family-sized SUV with strong performance.