The Hellcat finds its way into the biggest Dodge, but you’ve only got 2021 to get one.
Rumors of a Hellcat-powered Durango have swirled for years, and today Dodge made it official. The three-row SUV is gaining the demonic 6.2-liter, supercharged V8—but only for a single model year.
Hellcat rumbles in
The Durango SRT Hellcat headlines a model-wide refresh, with updated styling inside and out, and improved tech. The Hellcat recipe is familiar: like the related Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, the Durango sends the V8’s ample power to all four wheels via a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. There is a slight bump in horsepower to 710 ponies, with a stout 645 lb-ft backing that up.
Dodge quotes a 0–60 mph time of 3.5 seconds; keep your foot in and it’ll blitz the quarter-mile in 11.5 seconds. The most shocking stat is a drag-induced top speed of 180 mph. Something this big going that fast is pretty wild, even in 2020.
To keep the Hellcat Durango planted at high speeds, Dodge has given it a unique front fascia with a new chin spoiler and improved cooling abilities. A unique rear spoiler balances its aerodynamic profile, providing up to 140 pounds of actual downforce.
Just as impressive as the Durango’s get-up-and-go stats are the ones for bringing it to a stop. Dodge has fitted massive 15.75-inch front brake discs, and 13.8-inch items out back. Six-piston Brembo calipers clamp down on the front axle, with four-piston units on the rear. The American company says the Durango needs just 116 feet to stop from 60 mph.
Dodge says the Hellcat manages to be both more comfortable and more dynamic than the 2020 SRT 392 thanks to recalibrated drive modes and a stiffer suspension. There are no less than seven available drive modes for the eight-speed auto: Auto, Sport, Track, Tow, Eco, Snow and Valet. Select Tow, and when properly equipped, the Hellcat will tow 8,700 lb, the same as the SRT 392 and R/T (with Tow N Go package). Drivers are also able to customize the transmission shift speeds, steering calibration, traction and suspension settings via SRT Drive modes. Launch control and launch assist are both standard.
As we mentioned before, the Durango SRT Hellcat will only be around for the 2021 model year. Talking to the media, Tim Kuniskis, global head of Alfa Romeo and head of Passenger Cars North America, told us why. New evaporative emissions requirements come on-line for 2022, and with the current platform, the Durango can’t pass with the Hellcat engine. Other Hellcat treatments are safe—for now—and Kuniskis re-confirmed the next-generation, new-platform Jeep Grand Cherokee will arrive for 2022.
Entire Durango lineup gets improvements for 2021
The Charger influence outside is clear, with Dodge dropping the crosshair grille on all trims and sticking to the bean-shaped opening. It stretches across the front fascia between slimmer headlamps. Depending on trim, the grille will feature one of three textures. The “race track” taillights are all-LED, across the lineup. 20-inch wheels are standard on all trims, either eight inches across or 10 on the performance trims. SRT models come with 295-section all-season performance tires as standard, with Pirelli P-Zeroes optional.
More changes are afoot inside. Front and center is an available 10.1-inch infotainment screen, running the latest Uconnect 5 system. The Android-based operating system is five times faster than the current model, and allows for multiple user profiles. Dodge has also angled it slightly (seven degrees) towards the driver. Mercifully, the Durango also gains dedicated physical buttons for seat temperature, fixing one of our few complaints about current Uconnect cars. A redesigned console offers more storage, plus available wireless charging. New interior colors and trim options are available, including Ebony Red on the luxury-oriented Citadel trim. SRT models also feature a back-lit logo on their flat-bottomed steering wheels.
Uconnect is already one of our favorite infotainment systems, and its ease of use helped Dodge score its first-ever win in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study last week.
A new R/T Tow N Go package offers lots of the visual power of the SRT models with Dodge’s trusty 5.7-liter V8. It’s rated to tow the same 8,700 pounds as the SRT models, and gets a retuned performance exhaust. We got a brief taste of the new singing voice in comparison to the existing model and it’s an awesome V8 burble.
The R/T Tow N Go gains additional drive modes—Track, Sport, Snow and Tow—and SRT active damping suspension. Brembo six-piston calipers show up here too, clamping 15.0-inch discs up front and 13.8-inch ones in back.
If you’re craving luxury, the Citadel trim continues for 2021. Available with either the Pentastar V6 or 5.7-liter Hemi V8, it features plenty of chrome brightwork on its exterior. Inside the Citadel features second-row captain’s chairs. Nappa leather drapes the seats, with heated and cooled front-row thrones; the second row is heated as well. The upsized 10.1-inch Uconnect 5 system is standard in the Citadel, as is a full safety suite. The latter includes adaptive cruise control (with stop and go capability), blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, automated emergency braking, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist.
Orders for the the 2021 Durango will begin later this summer, with the regular models arriving in dealerships in autumn. SRT Hellcat orders will open around the same time, and the 710-horsepower beast will start showing up early next year. Kuniskis told us Dodge will build the Hellcat for just six months; while it won’t be serialized, he did say the run will be “less than 2,000” units. Expect pricing details over the coming months.