2018 Dodge Durango SRT 392 redefines the sporty SUV category

By Peter A. Hubbard


(October 2, 2018) While SUVs for the middle class may all be morphing into tame little crossovers, that’s certainly not the case if you’re a certified member of the Country Club Set.  Choices are exploding almost monthly for those with $70,000 to $100,000 lying around in your petty cash drawer, and available to spend on sporty and speedy transportation. 

The market was pioneered nearly 20 years ago (for the 1999 model year) when BMW launched the X5, and Audi followed suit in 2006 with the Q7.  While the market has been dominated early on by German nameplates, one domestically built model has emerged to challenge these sporty Europeans SUV — the Dodge Durango. 

The current generation Durango was first introduced as a 2011 model and based on Mercedes M-Class mechanicals, thanks to Chrysler’s short-lived marriage to Daimler AG, the Durango has been getting progressively better and sportier with each succeeding model year. 

For 2018 the Dodge Durango SRT comes with a 475 horsepower 6.4-liter Hemi V-8, which delivers 470 lb-ft of torque and helps propel it from 0-60 in a mere 4.7 seconds, thanks as well to AWD. 

With that kind of power under the hood, the Durango can now tow up to 8,600 pounds, giving it all the towing capabilities of a full-size rear-drive SUV like the Chevy Tahoe, but with the tidier interior packaging, similar to what you’ll find in a Honda Pilot or Toyota 4Runner. 

The Durango SRT occupies an interesting niche in the SUV market  getting high marks for both its utilitarian skills and sporting flair.  It is also quite competitive with a couple of European newcomers to the field — namely the Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Maserati Levante.

While those two deliver a bit more horsepower (505 and 555, respectively,) and carry price tags in the low- to mid-$70,000’s, their recent arrival in the market adds a question mark when it comes to issues of reliability and resale value.  After all, Italian auto makers haven’t exactly been running away with JD Power quality or low-maintenance cost awards in recent years.

So if you’re in the market for an SUV with similar horsepower and interior room, nothing else comes close to the Durango.  If provides a family-friendly, mid-sized 3-row cabin, yet delivers great performance at a logical price. Base Durangos start around $31,000, when equipped with a 3.6-liter V-6. Our test unit Durango SRT test vehicle came with the burly 392-cubic inch V-8 mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. 

Base sticker?  Just $62,995.  Loaded up with all the goodies, the bottom line read $72,265. 

As you might expect on a vehicle with a price tag north of 50 large, not only are performance bits standard, you also get a boatload of luxury upgrades and high-tech driver safety features included as well.  The SRT performance parts include a high performance suspension with adaptive damping, anti-sway technology, for burly Brembo disc brakes at all for wheels, a tuned exhaust and performance tuned steering.  

Convenience features include a power liftgate, heated and vented 8-way power front seats for both driver and passenger, and a heated steering wheel with integrated shift paddles.  All Durango models come with FCA’s color 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen infotainment console that integrates the car’s navigation and audio systems, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In addition to UConnect, the console includes a media hub with USB ports.

In my opinion Uconnect is one of the best touch-screen units on the market.  It’s large enough so even seniors don’t have to squint and the various functions are all very intuitive. 

Options added to our test model included FCA’s Technology Group (which added $2,495), a rear DVD entertainment center for $1,995; the Trailer Towing package for $995; the upgraded SRT Interior package for $1,500; 20-inch low-gloss black wheels for $595, and upgraded 295/45ZR20 3-season tires for the same price. 

With the freight bill added, our test unit stickered out at $72,265, as noted earlier. The Technology Group includes active cruise control, collision warning with automatic braking, and other safety systems. The Towing package adds a big 220-amp alternator, heavy-duty engine oil cooler, Class IV hitch receiver and load-leveling rear shocks.


The Durango's exterior styling is sporty and aggressive without going overboard, even on base models. We like the Durango’s clean lines, enhanced with LED headlight accents and a signature Dodge crosshair grille. The rear end sports a tailgate-wide red LED “racetrack” taillight design that's especially distinctive at night. 

Chrome fans should probably opt for either the base SXT or the Citadel; the mono-chrome look on the mid-level GT, R/T and sneaky-fast SRT are more subtle alternatives. The SRT sports a unique hood and front end with extra vents to help cool the big 392-cubic inch V-8.


The 2018 Dodge Durango's interior had a genuine quality feel compared to most of the other crossover competitors of similar size. Our SRT test unit had heated and vented leather seats, plus heated rear seats as well.  In this case, the Durango has tumble-forward captain’s chairs that grant easy access to the third-row seats, and anchors for child booster seats. Not only do second- and third-row seats fold forward, you can even fold down the front passenger seat in the event you need to haul skies, 2x4’s or other really long objects. 


Even if you’re not in the market for an asphalt-pounding SRT, even entry-level Durangos and the base 3.6-liter V-6 is a surprisingly good power choice. Endowed with 295 horsepower it accelerates just fine, has decent passing power, and saves fuel compared to the thirstier V-8 engines. Optional
on R/T and Citadel models is the 5.7-liter V-8, which offers up 360 horsepower and provides 7,400 pounds of towing capacity – not to mention the satisfying roar only an American Hemi V-8 provides.

Of course, if you're looking for the ultimate Durango, nothing beats the 6.4-liter V-8 under the hood of our Durango SRT. By delivery a heart-stopping 475 horsepower … it leaves other domestic competitors eating its dust. All engines come with an 8-speed automatic transmission, and the V-8s deactivate four of their eight cylinders under lighter loads. Rear-wheel and all-wheel drive (RWD, AWD) are available, with AWD standard on the SRT.  The EPA fuel economy for our Durango SRT is listed at 14 city, 22 highway.  The rear-drive V-6 Durango improves those number up to 19 city, 26 highway. 


Driving the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT is like no other driving experience.  Here you have an big SUV.  Big SUV are supposed to be slow and sluggish – while the SRT is the exact opposite!!  You feel like James Kirk, at the helm of the Starship Enterprise.  But when you message old Scotty, begging him to ramp up the power – Scotty DELIVERS, and in a BIG WAY!!!  The throttle response is strong, and immediate.  You actually start yearning for some track time, just so you can embarrass a few Porsches and Corvettes! 

The Durango SRT HAULS BUTT! Just how fast is it?  How does a 0-60 sprint of just 4.4 seconds sound … for a 2-1/2-ton SUV?  That’s right – the Durango SRT tips the sc
ales at over 5,500 lbs. — amazing!!

And it sounds terrific when asked to kick a little asphalt, thanks to the delightfully tuned performance exhaust.  But since you’re driving a cushy leather-lined SUV, with high-up, command-of-the-road visibility, there’s no penalties attached.  You’re butt’s not dragging the ground, and the suspension isn’t rattling your dentures. The throttle’s power delivery is smooth and reliable.  And the ride is controlled and comfortable.  Not only that – you have luxury space for six passengers, and can even tow a REALLY big boat — up to 8,700 lbs., or four tons of towing capacity!!


The 2018 Dodge Durango SRT is a delightful companion for those folks who lust for a 2-seat sports car, but life’s circumstances dictate the practicality of a people-hauling SUV.  Sure, it costs double the price of an average SUV or crossover — but it’s guaranteed to deliver double the fun! No two ways about it … the Durango SRT is the complete package. It’s burly, but comfortable, and fast, but practical in an insane sort of way.  It not only promises to hold its resale value, it might even be considered a collectible when your toddler grandchildren are old enough to drive.