They seem to ask a lot of “what ifs?” over at Dodge. What if we build a 700-horsepower muscle car? What if we take its engine and make the fastest production sedan ever? What if we put that engine in a Jeep? And finally, why haven’t we stuffed that engine in our own Dodge Durango already? Well, for the answer to that one hold on tight.
Dodge is not afraid of making bold claims; and they usually have no problem backing them up either. Their latest declaration of superiority comes with the 2021 Durango SRT Hellcat, the most powerful SUV ever.
Based on Hellcat being in the name, you probably already know what’s making this happen, Dodge’s 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI Hellcat V8.
It’s not a straight drop in though, as Dodge has tailored it just for the Durango; mostly to address cooling. The result is 710-horsepower, 7 fewer than the current Challenger SRT Hellcat but 3 more than the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, with 645 lb-ft. of torque. A new dual exhaust system features the largest X-pipe of any SRT vehicle.
Important to note here, that Dodge didn’t turn this into a rear-wheel-drive only drag-strip racer. All-wheel-drive is standard, and it still tows 8,700-lbs., working with an upgraded Torqueflite 8-speed automatic transmission.
Yes, Dodge’s Street and Racing Technology engineers were concerned about more than just 0-60s. They’ve added new springs, and stiffened suspension mounts for more grip and stability in corners too. So, it’s more “tracky” in Track mode; but they’ve addressed the other end of the spectrum as well, providing more comfort in Auto mode than the SRT 392.
So, on the road, the Durango Hellcat is actually quite smooth and easy driving; surprisingly so, as it doesn’t feel insane or overly powerful at all. That civility could actually be a bad thing for some who want to feel as if they’re fighting back the beast at all times.
Our biggest disappointment was not that, but the fact that our test track was covered in snow.
So we were unable to experience what this hellacious hot rod is capable of. Fortunately, Dodge did the dirty work for us, with time slips of 11.5–seconds in the ¼-mile; 3.5 for the 0-60.
There’s a beefed up transfer case to handle all of the stress that comes with distributing that amount of power to the full-time all-wheel-drive system. A max of 70% is sent to the rear wheels when in Track mode; otherwise it runs mostly with a 50/50 split.
Interior functionality remains fully intact; yes, this is quite possibly the world’s first 3-row muscle car. In fact, this SRT Hellcat showcases a new interior layout shared with all Durangos for ’21; with the instrument panel, center console, and door panels all getting a redesign.
Drawing increasing inspiration from Dodge’s Challenger, there’s a sportier look than before, and things have gotten more driver oriented; yet at the same time, it feels roomier than ever.
Uconnect has been updated with various screen sizes up to 10-inches available; it looks better than ever, but more importantly, remains very intuitive.
SRTs comes with a performance steering wheel, and no bench seat here in the 2nd row, as captain chairs are standard, limiting the fun factor to a half dozen. The console between them is optional, as is a Rear DVD Entertainment Center.
Cargo capacity remains plentiful; 17.2 cubic-ft. behind the 3rd row, 43.3 behind the 2nd, and 85.1 with all seats folded.
All Durangos are more boldly styled for ’21 too; this SRT Hellcat maximizing that approach with a unique front fascia that opens things up for better cooling airflow. While a front splitter works with a large rear spoiler to increase downforce more than 400%.
Dodge is pushing the limits with the amount of noise coming out of those exhaust tips, and it’s certainly music to our ears, though we admit it can get droney when cruising in high gear.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings, obviously not a strong point, 12-City, 17-Highway, and 13-Combined; with our average coming in at 13.3 miles-per-gallon on Premium.
At $82,490, the Durango SRT Hellcat is clearly an expensive vehicle, but you can easily spend a lot more than that on quite a few SUVs these days with a lot less to make them go. However, unless you absolutely need the baddest Durango ever, for about $17,000 less, you can get the 475-horsepower SRT 392, and still have enough power to bring a smile to all onboard.
While the future of SRT is a bit muddy, with engineers being absorbed into a new Stellantis global engineering division; the future of this 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat is clear as it can be, there isn’t one. This is a 1-year only deal; so if you need a 700-plus horsepower 3-row muscle car, better make your deal with the devil while you can.
Engine: 6.2L Supercharged Hellcat V8
Torque: 645 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 3.5 seconds
1/4 Mile: 11.5 seconds
EPA: 12 City / 17 Highway / 13-Combined
Starting Price: $84,490