INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – For Tim Kuniskis, head of the Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat and SRT brands for the Italian-American manufacturer FCA, it couldn’t be simpler. For him, the Dodge Durango is nothing more and nothing less than “a Charger with three rows of seats.” This brawny SUV is designed to stand out from its rivals and make no apologies in an era when we're all obsessed with the electric car. That goes double for the new Durango SRT that offers "even more performance and personality."
Under its hood is a 6.4-litre, pushrod HEMI V8. With 475 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque in its back pocket, the gang at SRT is boasting NHRA-confirmed times of 4.4 seconds and 12.9 seconds for the 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) and quarter-mile, respectively. Add to this Goliath 20-inch alloy wheels with a black satin finish, fitted with 295/45ZR20 tires. Behind the 10 widely spaced spokes, you can see red-painted, 380-mm front discs and 350-mm discs in back, pinched by six-piston Brembo callipers in front and four-piston callipers in back.
In Indianapolis, the Durango SRT was perfectly at ease on a makeshift course that connected two series of turns to a fast section of the legendary, almost-oval circuit. This big, surprisingly agile beast enters turns easily with linear and precise steering commanded by a plump steering wheel with a trendy flat-bottom design. While we’re on the subject, this energetic driving session revealed how limited the front seats’ lateral support is.
In flat-out acceleration on the longest straightaway of the course, the Durango SRT released a fabulous sound, its rumble amplified by the empty stands and concrete walls. Braking hard on a corner, the automatic gearbox will definitely surprise you by downshifting harshly and in rapid succession over its eight gears. It will also emit a positively gleeful roar every time the V8 upshifts and engages a new gear.
At a more moderate pace, the Durango SRT demonstrates impeccable poise on the road. It’s comfortable and quiet, as long as you don’t put the pedal to the metal, that is. But hey, you’re only human, and you’re going to give in to that temptation now and then. It’s totally understandable, and it’s for that reason that the SRT group thought of the (most likely) small passengers sitting in the third row by adding electronic ambient sound reduction.
As such, this new Durango SRT preserves its versatility. For times when its family-oriented traits aren’t required, simply switch to Sport or Track mode, whichever is most appropriate for the circumstances. Bring on the wide open spaces, but don’t forget your wallet: you’ll need it for gas.