2018 Dodge Durango SRT: Not Your Father’s SUV

Well, Dodge has finally done it. The mad monks from the SRT Division have gotten loose, and got their hands on an innocent, mild-mannered SUV, the 2018 Durango. In this case, they have gone and stuffed a 6.4 Hemi into it and called it the “Dodge Charger of the Full-size SUV Segment.”

We at Automoblog couldn’t be happier. Look, we wear our biases on our sleeves here. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t speak for all of us (although I’m 99% sure of this) but at least I think that any car that’s good (as it is) can be made better by more power.

In the case of the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT, that turns out to be a lot of power. Specifically 475, which strikes me as both “a lot” and “quite adequate” amounts of horsepower.

Powerful Dialogue

Does any other car manufacturer do this? Are their any other hot rod SUVs out there? Porsche makes some pretty hairy Cayenne models, as does BMW with their X Series and Mercedes with AMG-plastered this and that. But when it comes to American iron, the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT is pretty much it, and the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT is about as ‘Murican you can get with a capital M.

Like seemingly all Mopar products, the discussion starts, and pretty much finishes under the hood. There you find the aforementioned 475 horsepower engine. The plant is, of course, a Hemi (or as Dodge prefers it: HEMI, in all caps, like it’s justifiably screaming at you). In this case, it’s displacing a healthy 392-cubic-inches. Dodge says the new 2018 Durango SRT is the most powerful three-row SUV and I am not going to quibble with them.

Torque? 470 lb.-ft. The exhaust system is new and tuned to sound like all high-performance Mopars.

“This is what you get, when you take everything great about the Durango and combine it with the performance of the Charger SRT: a 12-second quarter mile, toy-hauling, three-row muscle car,” said Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Car Brands, Dodge, SRT, Chrysler, and Fiat – FCA North America. Photo: FCA US LLC. 

Stamped & Certified

Even though the Dodge Durango weighs slightly less than a UPS truck (I’m guessing) Mopar says it’s the fastest SUV you can get. Oh, I’m sorry, Dodge doesn’t say that, the friggin’ NHRA says that. Yup Dodge went and handed the Durango SRT over to the National Hot Rod Association, the people who run professional drag racing, and the NHRA certified that the Durango SRT can pull quarter-mile times of 12.9 seconds, and hit 0-60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds.

I’ll let those numbers sink in – go ahead and compare them to what your car (your current car, not your truck) is capable of laying down – while I ponder the fact that, when I was in high school, up the street from me was one of the local hot shoes who thought he was the business with his Pontiac GTO. He was turning quarters in the mid-14s.

This is a truck, gentle readers. This is something with utility.

It just doesn’t just haul you know what; it can also haul things. And people. The Durango SRT has best-in-class towing capability of 8,600 pounds. It has three rows of seats. You can pick up the kid’s soccer team, realize you’re late for the match, step on it, and make it on time. Think of the unabated joyful screaming from the little nippers as garnish on the side of the plate.

The 2018 Dodge Durango SRT has functional center air-inlet ducts, flanked by heat extractors on the hood that keep the engine bay cool by removing hot air from the engine compartment. Photo: FCA US LLC.

Style & Design

It is not exactly a sleeper, however. There are new exterior bits and bobs like a wide body exterior design and a functional SRT hood – that’s the one with the center air inlet ducts and heat extractors off to the sides. The front fascia is new and the lower valence houses a new cold-air duct and LED fog lamps. A new SRT-inspired, body-color lower fascia with Gloss Black accents decorates the rear.

The 4-inch dual exhaust pipes are finished in Nickel Chrome and make for a very pleasing touch.

The Durango SRT is also has unique badging on the liftgate that denotes the new performance AWD system, and it’s available in 11 exterior colors, so you should be able to find something that suits your fancy.

On the inside, there’s standard leather and suede, with available high-performance Demonic Red Laguna leather seating. Cute, huh? There’s also new carbon-fiber trim to distinguish Durango SRT’s performance interior. Other interior treatments come in the way of technology and connectivity with the Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen. In there, driver’s will have access to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and many different apps.

The Uconnect system also houses the SRT Performance Pages, where the Durango’s various performance stats and specs can be viewed in real-time.

The TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission takes into account variables, including engine torque gradients, kick-down events, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, grade changes, tire slip, and downshift detection to determine the appropriate transmission shift map. Photo: FCA US LLC.

Transmission Tech

The SRT’s transmission is the venerable TorqueFlite, only this one has been seriously monkeyed with. It’s an eight-speed automatic slush box specifically calibrated for the Dodge Durango SRT, with optimized shift points to deliver maximum torque to all four wheels. The transmission is operated via a new, driver-oriented electronic T-shifter. This is standard on all 2018 Durango models and provides you with instinctive gear selection – there’s also paddles behind the steering wheel to make choosing ratios easy and fun.

Drive Modes

The Durango SRT has an all-new, seven-mode drive system to give the driver (that would be you) the capability to adjust the settings to exploit performance or comfort. Out of the seven, there are two really worth mentioning: Sport Mode and Track Mode. The Sport Mode, which is new, reduces shift times by up to 50 percent versus Auto Mode and delivers up to 65 percent of the 392 HEMI engine’s torque to the rear wheels. Sounds fun, yes?

The Track Mode, also new, delivers all-out, track-oriented performance with shift times lowered to 160-milliseconds, and up to 70 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels – this for for a more, a-hem, pronounced rear-wheel drive experience.

See, that sounded rational, didn’t it? Reading about “Track Mode” on an SUV! Just how bananas are these guys? They seriously have accounted for the possibility of you taking a truck out on the track.

The 2018 Dodge Durango SRT rides on a short-and long-arm (SLA) independent front suspension with coil springs, specially tuned Bilstein adaptive damping suspension (ADS), upper-and lower-control arms (“A” arms), and a stabilizer bar. In the rear, a specially tuned multi-link suspension design features coil springs, Bilstein ADS, aluminum lower control arms, independent upper links (tension and camber), plus a separate toe link, and a stabilizer bar. Photo: FCA US LLC.

Suspension & Braking

It’s not all just a big whompin’-stompin’ engine though, oh no. The performance-tuned AWD system is new and there’s a complex Active Damping System that opens and closes damper valves, according to which driving mode you choose. The springs are stiffer all around, 3 percent up front and 16 percent out back, along with an 18 percent stiffer rear sway bar. Dodge says this gives Durango SRT drivers “outstanding high-speed cornering capability.”

Okay, but you go find out whether that’s true or not first, then I’ll take it for a drive.

They also point out the 120-inch wheelbase and how it works in conjunction with the AWD system to deliver solid performance.

Yes, you can stop this thing. New Brembo high-performance brakes are fitted with six-piston calipers up front and four-piston calipers at the rear. Yes, they are vented rotors at all four corners. Yes, they are roughly the size of pizzas, measuring 15 inches up front and 13.8 inches out back. Oh and the fronts are slotted.

Availability

Here’s a nice little bit Dodge throws in when you sign on the dotted line, purchasing one of these rides: All who buy a new Durango SRT will receive a full-day session at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. Nice!

The 2018 Dodge Durango SRT will arrive at dealerships during the fourth quarter of this year. I’ve told the rest of the staff here at Automoblog they can get in line behind me, and then eat my dust.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

2018 Dodge Durango SRT Gallery

Photos & Source: FCA US LLC

About The Author

Tony Borroz grew up in a sportscar oriented family, but sadly, it was British cars. His knuckles still show the marks of slipped Whitworth sockets, strains to reach upper rear shock bushings on Triumphs, and slight burn marks from dealing with Lucas Electric "systems." He has written for a variety of car magazines and websites, Automoblog chief among them. Tony has worked on popular driving games as a content expert, in addition to working for aerospace companies, software giants, and as a movie stuntman. He currently lives in a secure, undisclosed location in the American southwestern desert.

1 Comment on "2018 Dodge Durango SRT: Not Your Father’s SUV"

  1. David L Yocum

    I now drive a 2015 V-6 Durango and am loving it. Looking forward to driving the 2018 SRT, as soon as I can figure out which bank to rob.

Leave a Reply