Review: 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat brings 710 hp to the school pickup
Dodge seems intent on shoving horsepower into everything possible. The company’s potent 6.2-liter supercharged V8 and its Hellcat moniker are becoming synonymous with “ludicrous muscle.” Now you can take the whole family along for your drag strip sprints with the 2021 Dodge Durango Hellcat.
At a Glance
- Ridiculously powerful (and loud) supercharged V8.
- All of the goodness of the Durango crossover.
- Plenty of room for the whole family.
- Not so good fuel economy.
We’ve now driven all of the Durango engine options and are happy to report that from the standard V6-powered everyday models to the three powerful V8-juiced options, there’s definitely a Durango crossover for almost everyone. All of them have the same traits: near-luxurious family hauling, solid off-road credibility, best-in-biz infotainment, and surprisingly good daily ergonomics. But they all suffer from the same relatively low fuel economy versus their peers, don’t have standard advanced safety features, and are generally bulkier in feel and reality than most of the competition.
That said, about the only place one can find V8 power in the three-row, midsized crossover-SUV segment now is in a Dodge. Most of the other makes have long since dropped their V8 options in favor of six- and turbocharged four-cylinder options. Dodge, meanwhile, has gone the other way, giving the Street and Racing Technology (SRT) treatment to them instead.
It begins with the Dodge Durango R/T, which we drove not too long after driving the Hellcat model. The R/T features a 5.7-liter V8 common in the Fiat-Chrysler (now Stellantis) lineup, outputting 360 horsepower (268.5 kW) via an eight-speed automatic. That’s more than respectable for a vehicle the size of the Durango, adding about 80 horses to the V6-powered models’ output.
Next in line is the Durango SRT model, which we drove upon its production debut. Its 6.4-liter V8 outputs 475 horsepower (354 kW). We thought at the time that this was a little excessive. Apparently, the engineers at Dodge didn’t agree because they have given the Hellcat treatment to this Dodge in the aptly-named Durango Hellcat.
In the 2021 Dodge Durango Hellcat is the beautiful 6.2L found in many Stellantis models like the Ram TRX and the Challenger Hellcat Redeye. So far, every vehicle that’s received the Hellcat treatment has made us tripudiate. There are some who may not understand why huge amounts of V8-based, throaty horsepower is awesome fun; possibly because they’ve never tried it or don’t realize that speed for speed’s sake is not really that interesting. But there are plenty of people for whom speed as a result of breathtaking power and visceral engine screams is definitely cause for glee.
Like the SRT, the SRT Hellcat model of the 2021 Dodge Durango comes standard with all-wheel drive configured in a way to handle the huge amounts of torque involved with this engine. The supercharged 6.2 churns 645 lb-ft (874.5 Nm) of torque to an eight-speed automatic transmission also beefed up to handle the extra strain. Brembo brakes, an adaptive sport suspension, and leather sport seating with improved bolstering are also included.
For those wondering, yes, the Durango Hellcat model is still surprisingly good off the road as well. While the standard tires are made for pavement and street gripping, light off-road is still doable in the factory stock model. Changing to some more all-terrain options would mean being on par with any Durango off the road, but would sacrifice some on-pavement capability and the ability to shove the 6.2’s muscle to the ground in full control of its rubber-squealing abandon. It is definitely possible to do burnouts in the Durango Hellcat, even with AWD. It’s so possible that it can happen at highway speeds if one shoves the throttle down too quickly.
As Uncle Parker said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Some might say that the responsibility is being most paid for at the pump. The 2021 Dodge Durango has a highway fuel economy figure ranging from 26 mpg (9 L/100km, V6 model) to 17 mpg (13.8 L/100km, Hellcat model). Those figures aren’t terribly good compared to the rest of the market. We could argue about the below par economy of the V6 model, but little argument can be made when the model is clearly designed as a performance variant.
The variance in fuel economy between models is also seen in price tag. The Durango’s V6-powered base model starts at about US$33,260 while the Hellcat model starts at $80,995. That’s quite the spread. This follows all of the supercharged models in the Dodge lineup, though, and comes as no surprise. The buyer is essentially paying to more than double horsepower output and add the equipment to handle that upgrade.
So love or hate the idea of an insanely muscular family hauler, the Durango SRT Hellcat is selling. Hauling the kids to the soccer field and band practice has never been this much fun.
Product Page: 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat
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