2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat Review – Want Trumps Need



2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat AWD Fast Facts

6.2-liter V8 (710 horsepower @ 6,100 rpm; 645 lb-ft @ 4,300 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

12 city / 17 highway / 13 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

20.5 city / 13.8 highway / 17.4 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $80,995 (U.S) / $122,310 (Canada)

As Tested: $89,665 (U.S.) / $128,855 (Canada)

Prices include $1,495 destination charge in the United States and $1,995 to $2,895 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

“You don’t need it, but you’ll want it.”

It’s a common refrain when discussing bonkers performance vehicles, particularly ones that are based on family haulers. I’ve said a version of that a time or two in reviews I’ve written here and elsewhere. But some cliches are cliches because they’re true.

On the other hand, sometimes just because you want something cool, it’s not the practical choice.

Enter the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat.

You’d think stuffing a 710 horsepower/645 lb-ft of torque V8 (6.2-liters, supercharged) into a family-hauling SUV would lead to grin-fueling insanity. You’d be right. But also, as much as you might want this, you don’t need it.

In part because Dodge offers a V8 Durango that’s nearly as bonkers for less money.

That said, since car-buying decisions are often irrational, if you want to drop the coin on a Hemi-powered Durango (and the coin on fuel), you’ll get exactly what you pay for.

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

Which is a big SUV that accelerates terrifyingly fast, handles well enough for its size, and sacrifices only fuel consumption and a stiffer ride at the altar at of performance. Oh, and engine noise, but that’s not really going to be a detriment for most buyers.

If you’re light on the throttle (and you won’t be), the Hellcat drives a lot like a regular Durango, just with a rougher ride (though still mostly acceptable. Expansion joints are no fun, though) and sharper handling (again, relative to size and SUV mission). It’s even reasonably quiet until the revs creep up.

The big engine exists to make passing and merging a breeze, and it does. It also gives you the grins. The Durango Hellcat is a SUV version of those old full-size sedans I grew up with that got a V8 dropped in them. Think mid-90s Impala SS or Mercury Marauder. Big family vehicle + big/powerful engine + mild tweaks to suspension and brakes = a lot of fun, as long as the wheel is straight and the road empty.

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

That suspension, by the way, is the same as what’s in the SRT 392 I tested earlier. That means the setup is a SRT-tuned short- and long-arm independent front suspension with aluminum lower control arms, coil springs, Bilstein adaptive damping shocks, and hollow stabilizer bar. In the rear the setup is a SRT-tuned multi-link with Bilstein adaptive damping, coil springs, aluminum lower control arm, and stabilizer bar.

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

Inside, you get a dressed-up version of the usual Durango interior (see below for details). That’s a good thing, since the cabin controls are easy to use, if not super sexy in terms of design.

I’ve hinted it at it already, but you will pay a penalty at the pump for having a bodacious V8 underhood – and for driving a vehicle that weighs over 5,700 pounds. The fuel economy is listed at a dismal 12 mpg city/17 mpg highway/13 mpg combined. You can, however, tow up to 8,700 pounds.

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

You’ll also pay a lot of dough just to acquire this beast (and you will have to hustle, as this vehicle is 2021 only). The base price is over $80K and standard features include Brembo brakes, adaptive damping suspension, electronic limited-slip rear differential, performance exhaust, power liftgate, keyless entry, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, premium audio, satellite radio, wi-fi hotspot, wireless charging pad, heated front seats, cooled front seats, 20-inch wheels, LED lighting, lower splitter, and Pirelli all-season tires.

Options included the Technology Package ($2,395; advanced-brake assist, lane-departure warning plus, full-speed forward-collision warning plus, adaptive cruise control with stop), the Premium Interior Group ($2,495; suede headliner, premium instrument panel, forged carbon-fiber interior accents), dual paint stripes ($1,195), Pirelli three-season tires ($595), and blind-spot and cross-path detection ($495). With $1,495 for destination, the total is $89,665.

Nearly $90K for a vehicle that’s a blast to drive in a straight line, competent (relative to size) in cornering, and still offering most of the utility promised by a Durango.

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

Yeah, you do not need this thing. There’s no use case for it. But who cares? It’s a throwback beast that delivers what it promises – and that promise is fun.

The SRT 392 Durango is a better choice for those who want a tooted-up Durango, since it’s cheaper, slightly less of a gas hog, and strikes a bit better balance between performance and daily driving. You can also get a 5.7-liter V8 Durango if you must have 8 cylinders and don’t need to go the SRT route.

But “better choice”, at least in terms of what’s more logical, doesn’t matter here. There’s no rational case for buying a Durango Hellcat. And that’s the point.

What’s New for 2021

The Hellcat joins the Durango line for 2021 and 2021 only.

Who Should Buy It

The well-heeled family person with a thing for big V8s and the bragging rights of owning an exclusive model.

[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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