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The Dodge Durango SP 360 Was a Fast SUV Before Fast SUVs Were Cool

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author photo by Doug DeMuro February 2017

These days, we take the high-performance SUV for granted. When the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 originally came out, it was crazy; now, it's just another member of the ridiculous "fast SUV" set that seems to include a model from just about every brand that's making an SUV -- like Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW, Mercedes, Audi and even Subaru.

But it wasn't always like that. Before all these high-performance SUVs came out, the GMC Typhoon created the idea of the fast SUV -- and the Dodge Durango SP 360 helped keep it going.

Indeed, while the 1992-1993 Typhoon gets all the glory, the Shelby-themed Dodge Durango SP 360 was pretty cool, too. On sale in tremendously limited numbers in 1999 and 2000, the Shelby Durango looked exactly how you'd expect a late-1990s high-performance Dodge SUV to look: It had stupid chrome wheels, cheap interior carbon-fiber fakery, Viper-themed blue paint with white racing stripes, deleted roof racks, and a ridiculous chin spoiler that did nothing except lower its ground clearance. It was hilarious.

But it was also pretty cool. While the standard Durango was just a normal ol' family SUV, the Shelby-tuned Durango SP 360 added Chrysler's huge 5.9-liter V8 engine and then supercharged it for 360 horsepower. This is back when the majority of SUVs were in the 200-to-250 horsepower range and 300 horses was considered a serious feat. For instance, the BMW X5, which debuted the year after the Durango SP 360, made just 280 horsepower from its "brawny" V8. And the original X5 -- supposedly a "sporty SUV" -- later debuted a 6-cylinder version with only 225 horses.

Unfortunately, Shelby engine tuning and bold exterior updates couldn't do much to change the Durango's character: While I've never driven the Durango SP 360, its 0-to-60 time of 7.1 seconds and its top speed of 142 mph aren't exactly impressive, even by the standards of that time period. And I have no doubt the thing still pitched and rolled like the body-on-frame family SUV it was.

Still, no car enthusiast is ever going to complain about an obscure performance model with extra horsepower. I only wish I could find one for sale.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The Dodge Durango SP 360 Was a Fast SUV Before Fast SUVs Were Cool - Autotrader