We took the world's only three-row muscle car to the drag strip.
When Dodge hands over the red key to a 710 horsepower SUV, it would be silly to use it only for grocery runs and commuting in traffic. The 2021 Dodge Durango Hellcat is a jack of many trades, but its key selling point is the supercharged Hemi V8 under the hood, enabling some ludicrous performance figures. According to manufacturer claims, the Durango Hellcat will hit 60 mph in 3.5 seconds on its way to completing the quarter-mile in 11.5 seconds.
Those times are clocked using the optional Pirelli P-Zero three-season tires, which provide the Durango with more grip. But when our test car arrived, it was wearing the less aggressive Pirelli Scorpion Zero all-season performance tires. These tires aren't nearly as effective for drag racing, but they allowed us to see how fast the Durango Hellcat can truly be, even when it's not at its best. We took the car to the drag strip where the Durango proved it can still be Usain Bolt, even without its best pair of running shoes.
We don't claim to be expert drag racers, but the Durango Hellcat makes it extremely simple for anyone to blast down the strip with ease. Launch control is activated by a dedicated "launch" button on the dash, then by holding in the brake and accelerator at the same time. Despite a fairly straightforward activation sequence, we experienced some trouble properly activating launch control at the drag strip. The Durango's brakes didn't want to hold the car at the start, meaning we couldn't tell if launch control was functioning properly. Don't worry though, this didn't seem to slow it down by much.
Since the Durango sends its power to all four wheels, there is very little drama at the start; much less than a Charger or Challenger Hellcat. But with 710 hp on tap paired with all-season tires, the car performs a miniature four-wheel burnout, especially if the ground is wet or cold. Beyond the launch, the supercharged V8 pulls hard all the way to the redline. The acceleration doesn't cease pinning you to the seat until the car hits an aerodynamic wall near the end of the drag strip.
We had a chance to run the Durango three times at the strip, with our best quarter-mile time being 11.910 seconds at 116.39 miles per hour. To put that into perspective, this time is only 0.410 seconds off Dodge's official time, which was set on better tires with a professional driver on a prepped course. With the grippier tires (or even drag radials), the Durango Hellcat could lay down some shocking numbers. During our quickest run, the Durango hit 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, just 0.1 seconds off Dodge's official time.
All of these times were measured using the drag strip's accurate timing devices, but a driver could also use the Durango's built-in infotainment apps. Drivers can measure their 60-ft, 330-ft, eighth-of-a-mile, 100-ft, quarter-mile, 0-60 mph, 0-100 mph, and more metrics using Uconnect5's performance apps. These apps are shockingly accurate, as the car clocked our 11.910-second run at 12 seconds flat.
Other drivers at the strip could not believe that a Dodge Durango ran the quarter-mile so quickly. Many seemed befuddled by the Hellcat badges, thinking we tacked them on ourselves. The juxtaposition of seeing a three-row SUV with six seats blast down the quarter-mile quicker than many sports cars is both hilarious and awesome. The Durango Hellcat is a perfect drag strip vehicle for other reasons too. We had to wait over an hour between our first and second run, during which time we watched Fast & Furious on the car's rear Blu-ray player.
A Charger or Challenger Hellcat might achieve a quicker quarter-mile time with the right driver, but we think the Durango Hellcat could win eight out of ten races with its siblings, especially with novice drivers at the wheel. Combine this accessible speed with the Durango's comfort, practicality, and overall rarity, and we think this could be the perfect Hellcat model.