The Dodge Durango has been around for almost 20 years — and unlike its cousin, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, it’s always had 3-row seating. The hottest model thus far, the R/T Durango, has existed since the very first generation, and it’s pretty cool. This thing, however, is a different beast. Meet the Dodge Durango SRT, which may be the coolest production 3-row SUV on the market (EDITOR’S NOTE: Not if the GLS 63 AMG has anything to say about it! -Doug). Consider this: I used launch control on a vehicle that can also launch a boat on a boat ramp. Which is exactly where we parked this new SRT during the Washington Auto Press Association Rally to take a closer look. See the 2018 Dodge Durango models for sale near you
The Durango was always seen as a more utilitarian SUV compared to its Chrysler brethren, but it also featured some cool models from the very beginning. The R/T model was released in 2000, with a 5.9-liter Magnum V8 — and around that same time you could get a limited-edition Shelby S.P.360 version with a supercharged version of the same engine. Believe it or not, that one actually came standard with Viper blue paint and the usual white stripes, just like Doug’s Viper. The second generation was a bit bigger, but it was the first Chrysler SUV to use the big 5.7-liter Hemi V8.
After skipping the 2009 model year, the Durango was all-new for 2010. The third generation, that we still have now, sits on the same platform as the WK2 Grand Cherokee — but it has a longer wheelbase and three rows of seats. I’ve always been curious why the Grand Cherokee doesn’t have a third-row option as well. I feel like FCA could print money with all the potential buyers.
And why is that? Because there just aren’t very many cool 3-row vehicles for sale … until now. Enter the SRT Durango.
Just like the SRT Grand Cherokee, the new Durango has a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 with 475 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. So while it’s no Hellcat-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, it’s still properly badass. Check out the loud, brash noises it makes in the video: This thing is just cool. And like its other SRT stablemates, it has a bunch of drive modes to make the most of the experience. You get auto, sport, track, snow, tow, valet and eco.
You’ll especially want to try track mode — and once you’re there, thumb your way through the options and you get to “Launch Control.” Just like in the Trackhawk, it will inform you through the center screen that the vehicle will launch at 2,300 rpm (which is 200 higher than the Trackhawk) and that you should follow the instructions in the cluster to complete what will likely be a bad decision. It doesn’t say that last bit, but it’s usually going to be true — even if it’s just from a fuel economy standpoint.
Apply pressure to brake, rev the Hemi up to the proper rpm and BLAMMO! The SRT Durango takes off like no big SUV should — and it only takes 4.4 seconds to hit 60 mph. That’s a decent number for a “performance car” and ridiculously good for a 5,300-lb SUV that can haul this many people. Sure, it’s something like $16,000 more than the (admittedly also cool) 360-hp R/T — but at $64,090, the SRT is still a hell of a truck for the money.
Inside, I’ve always found the third-generation Durango to be pretty well sorted. While it may not have German SUV levels of refinement and materials, the cabin is comfortable and well laid out. The middle row features captain’s chairs with a separate center console that flips over into a table. Way back, the third row is fairly comfortable and has Chrysler’s typical stow-and-go-type seating. Want a seat to go away? Pull a lever and it’s gone. Want it back? Just pull it back up into place. Small things like this give you near minivan-levels of practicality — in a thing that may scare little children.
I want one! Find a 2018 Dodge Durango for sale
Based in Northern Virginia, William is professional writer and editor and acts as the Editor-in-Chief of Right Foot Down. He misspent most of his youth on tracks in the Mid-Atlantic, as well as killing cones in parking lots, and he once taught at a teen performance driving school.