2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat — Anything but subtle

By Jim Prueter

(April 1, 2021) It seems as though Dodge has put their 6.2-liter Hellcat engine in everything except their coffee. Oh, and the Durango — that is until now. 710-horsepower, 645-lb.-ft of torque and an eight-speed automatic transmission the SRT Durango racks up a 0-60 mph time of just 3.5 seconds and rockets through the quarter mile lights in 11.5 seconds. Top speed reaches 180 mph.

There are SRT Drive modes with Street, Sport, and Track settings, and a Custom mode for tweaking the various elements manually. Getting up to speed is not an issue with the big, heavy three-row seat Durango Hellcat. Fortunately, the Durango is fitted with six-piston Brembo brakes and nearly 16-inch rotors behind the 20-inch slotted wheels on the front which will bring all that speed and power to a confident stop in just 116 feet when traveling at 60 mph.

But for 2021 the news isn’t all just about the massive Durango Hellcat horsepower as all 21 Durango models get a refreshed styling with a nicely sharpened front redo including new LED headlamps, attractive new daytime running lights and on the Hellcat there’s a more aggressive front bumper and lower valance. The hood has a functional cold air scoop to feed air to the supercharger and there’s air extractor grilles on either side of the hood scoop to help remove engine heat.

Along the side front fenders there’s an identifying raised Hellcat logo. Out back there’s a new roof spoiler at the top of the liftgate. The larger exhaust tips look good as does the “raised track” taillamps that spread across the entire rear of the vehicle. The overall look is a bit understated, not the same ferociousness as a wide-body Charger or Challenger. Overall, we love the looks.

Inside, all Durango models also get a new interior that has a lot closer look and feel to the Challenger. There’s a completely new instrument panel that’s less blocky and more streamlined than the previous Durango. The heavily bolstered seats with their stitched SRT moniker on the shoulder area look as though they were lifted out of other SRT models. Our SRT came equipped with black and Demonic Red full Laguna leather seat upholstery, an excellent complement to the black suede headliner, Billet silver clear-coat exterior paint color and forged carbon fiber interior accents and optional ($95) red seat belts.

The stitched leather steering wheel is flat bottomed and thick, feeling good in your hands. The SRT moniker at the center of the steering wheel actually illuminates red but the regular 392 SRT model illuminates white. Instrument cluster gauges are basically the same as the previous Durango SRT but the graphics have been upgraded however the analog dials are still on the left side and still has the red background accents. In the middle is the RPMx1000 dial and all the information about the function and performance of the vehicle as you toggle through. There’s no shortage of great information from performance, operational, digital speed or you can just settle for infotainment info if you’re not into performance.

One of the biggest changes for 2021 is the new, large 10.1-inch Uconnect 5 infotainment system. It looks fantastic with the resolution three times sharper and five times faster than before and is the most intuitive to operate we’ve found in any vehicle period.

The Durango shares the same platform as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and does an excellent job as both an ample room utility vehicle for trips to the Home Depot as well as room for seven when needed for school transportation for the kids and trips to the lake for fishing or sporting events. There’s no shortage of creature comforts and passenger space is ample including the third row. Seats are supportive and comfortable however there’s no shortage of people who don’t much care for the heavily bolstered seats finding them intrusive. Durango is excellent for towing and rated up to 8,700 pounds with the SRT Hellcat powerplant.

Its large size easily handles curves and corners with aplomb. Body lean is kept in check and turn-in response is precise and prompt. Even on potholed and rough surfaced roads that twist and turn the Durango is unfazed delivering commendable composure. There’s a lot of suspension engineering and cleanness going on here and we couldn’t be more pleased.

We didn’t venture off-road with our all-wheel drive SRT but it really isn’t the vehicle for hard-core off-road use. It’s best for gravel or snow-icy road conditions where a two-setting transfer case comes to the aid in low-speed, low-grip conditions.

Our test SRT included the optional technology group (add $2,395) Optional that adds forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, advanced brake-assist, lane departure warning, lane keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control with stop.  Blind spot warning and rear cross traffic warning are available as an option (add $495).

With its intimidating looks and massive 710 horsepower on tap the SRT Hellcat begs to be driven and one never tires of the exhilarating acceleration and the omnipresent whine of the supercharger and growling exhaust notes. To keep you actually going in a straight line from a standing start, meanwhile, there’s Launch Assist; that promises to use sensors on each wheel to balance delivered torque with grip.

But why is it so expensive? When asked what it costs by most who inquired when I parked and they approached the vehicle for a look, were struck with disbelief when I told them nearly $100,000. “For a Dodge?” “Oh, my word.”

But I loved the thing — it has such a sense of fun and awe about it. That’s the whole point of it, isn’t it? But why so expensive? I think they are charging that much because they can. For those who are tempted Dodge says they will only be building one model year of the vehicle so “wait until next year” isn’t on the table.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $80,995
Price as Tested: $95,730
What makes it go: 6.2-liter, 710-horsepower supercharged HEMI V8 paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive.
Fuel Economy: 12/17/13 mpg City/Highway/Combined
Seating: Up to 7

Where Built: Detroit, Mich.

Crash Test Ratings: “Good” rating for moderate overlap front, side and roof strength. “Marginal” rating for small overlap front: driver-side, from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Overall, four out of five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Competes With:
Audi RS Q8
Mercedes AMG GLE 63 S

Fab Features
A three-row SUV with 710 horsepower
Superb handling for its size
Killer good looks