As its three-row competitors increasingly move to smaller or turbocharged engines, the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT could not be more different. The high-performance SUV, making its public debut at the Chicago Auto Show this week, packs 475 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque under the hood with a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 engine.
The Dodge brand, owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has never shied away from extreme performance. For the 2018 Durango SRT, it’s borrowed the muscular 392 HEMI also used in the Challenger and Charger SRT sports cars. The result is a midsized SUV capable of reaching 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds, quarter-mile runs in 12.9 seconds, and towing capacity of 8,600 pounds.
As with customers of other SRT models, buyers of the Durango SRT will receive one full-day session at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving.
“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, who heads FCA’s cars brands in North America.
Dodge has offered a performance-minded Durango R/T at the top of its model lineup for several years, with 360 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque from a 5.7-liter V8 engine. But the Durango SRT takes things to another level of performance.
The extreme SUV will be easy to spot thanks to its wider body, LED fog lamps, black mesh grilles and functional hood ducts. Exclusive equipment includes stiffer front and rear springs, high-performance exhaust and Pirelli all-season tires. Pirelli P Zero tires, normally reserved for sports cars, are available as an option.
The 2018 Durango SRT comes with all-wheel drive only, though it can send up to 70 percent of its torque to the rear wheels. There are seven different driving modes in total, including Snow, Tow, ECO, and Valet – which limits the vehicle’s performance temporarily. Selecting the Sport Mode reduces shift times by half, while Track Mode enables the quickest shifts and the most aggressive suspension damping.
The powerful HEMI V8 engine is paired to a TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission, that can read driving conditions to optimize fuel efficiency or be controlled by shift paddles mounted to the steering wheel.
Giving some spark to the Durango is designed to expand it sales. The vehicle Durango trailed its competitors in the Middle Sport Utility segment, according to Autodata Corp., with 68,474 vehicles sold in 2016. Models like the Honda Pilot and Jeep Liberty sold slightly more than 120,000 vehicles, while the Durango’s sibling Jeep Grand Cherokee topped 212,000 and the Ford Explorer led the segment with more than 248,000 sales.
However, the Durango posted one of the largest gains. Sales in 2016 represented a 5.8 percent increase over 2015 sales, beating the segment average of 2.0 percent growth.
The 2018 Dodge Durango SRT will go on sale in the fourth quarter of this year.