Despite its muscle car roots, the Durango SRT is surprisingly easy to drive.
Here’s a hot take for you; I think fans of the traditional American muscle cars will be glad that the 2019 Dodge Durango SRT exists. On paper, the marriage between a 6.4-litre HEMI V8 engine and a three-row full size SUV may seem odd, but it makes sense for those who grew up around muscle cars and have moved onto the next life stage, in search for a family hauler. Curious to see whether the Durango SRT can handle both roles as a modern hot rod and a grocery getter, we borrowed one and set out for a weeklong evaluation.
Our 2019 Dodge Durango SRT tester arrives in a sleek looking “DB Black”, while wearing the optional Bright Blue Mopar racing stripes proudly. With its large footprint and taut body lines, the Durango oozes machoism. As our week went on, we realized the Durango is quite the attention grabber; partly from the novelty of seeing such a rare truck, and partly from its suggestive performance parts such as the hood scoop, 20-inch matte black wheels, and bright red Brembo brake calipers. It is also worth noting the distinctive “Racetrack” taillights are not just for looks, but are one of the brightest and most visible setups in the industry.
The 392-cubic-inch (6.4 litres) HEMI V8 engine delivers 475 horsepower at 6,000RPM, and a peak torque of 470 lb-ft. at 4,300RPM. With the help of an onboard launch control function, the Durango SRT can complete a zero to 96 km/h sprint in as little as 4.4 seconds, and a quarter-mile time of 12.9 seconds. The latter achievement is certified by the National Hot Rod Association, proving the Durango’s distinctiveness in the full-size SUV segment. Power is delivered to all four wheels using an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic gear box. While it’s not super quick in its shifts, it is sufficient in this application. The best part about the Durango SRT is the sound; every bit of throttle input results in a glorious roar from its naturally aspirated V8, absolutely singing when near its 6,400RPM max engine speed.
Despite its muscle car roots, the Durango SRT is surprisingly easy to drive. Steering is relatively light, and there is decent feedback from the road. The standard high-performance suspension system does a good job in keeping the Durango SRT on its intended path and not let things get too far out of hand. The optional high-performance brakes are absolutely necessary if you intend to drive it spiritedly; they bite well and halts the 5,510-pound truck with a consistent and predictable distance. Those who plan to tow with the Durango will be happy to find its class-leading towing capacity of 8,700-pounds.
Given the monstrous engine and its beefy curb weight, fuel consumption was never going to be friendly for Durango SRT owners. Rated for 18.3L/100km in the city, 12.2L/100km on the highway, the Durango gets a combined fuel efficiency rating of 15.6L/100km. Our week of mixed commuting returned 16.0L/100km. We credit this to the engine’s Multi Displacement System (MDS) that shuts down four cylinders automatically in light load driving conditions. Premium grade gasoline is required, and the Durango has a 93.1-litre fuel tank to compensate for the higher fuel consumption.
As expected, given its size, the Durango’s interior is roomy and quite comfortable. The power adjustable heated and ventilated front seats are heavily cushioned and hold its occupants firmly, and the suede-like material looks good as long as they are properly maintained. There is decent head and legroom for all three rows of occupants, although adult passengers in the third row will find the lack of width uncomfortable for long trips. Cargo space is measured as a useable 487-litres behind the third row, and expands to a generous 1,226-litres when you are driving less than four passengers.
The rest of the interior layout in the Durango employs a utilitarian approach and is rather basic when compared to other full-size SUVs in its price range. The contrast stitching dresses up the otherwise monotonous interior, and the optional SRT Interior Appearance package adds carbon fibre accents and a leather wrapped instrument panel. Our biggest concern with the cockpit is how busy the speedometer looks; the numbers are too small and close to each other and hard to read while driving. Fortunately, you can choose to display current speed in the digital centre gauge.
Looking past the interior design, one’s attention would automatically go towards the 8.4-inch touchscreen on the centre console that houses the Uconnect infotainment system. The system is easy to use and many commonly used features such as the seat temperature control and SRT drive modes can be found right on the home page. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity is supported, and the sound quality from the optional Harman-Kardon 19-speaker system is above average.
To enhance driver safety, our Durango SRT tester is equipped with a list of optional safety systems. This includes the optional Blind-Spot Monitoring system with optional Rear Cross-Path Detection, as well as a Technology Group adding Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking, Advanced Brake Assist, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go. Being a full-size SUV relied on by many families, we would have liked to see these systems be included as standard equipment as many of its competitors do at its price range.
Pricing for the 2019 Dodge Durango SRT AWD starts at $73,895, and our tester had come with a long list of options including the Technology Group ($950), SRT Interior Appearance Group ($3,250), High Performance Brakes ($1,295), Mopar stripes ($1,495), Harman-Kardon sound system ($1,995), BSW three-season tires ($350), blind-spot monitoring system ($500), and the DB Black paint job ($275) to bring the as-tested price to $84,300.
At this price point, the Durango SRT faces stiff competition from the all-new Ford Explorer ST (reviewed here) which starts at just shy of $60,000. The Durango SRT feels like much more of a brute and contains more performance built-in, but the Ford Explorer ST has a more refined driving experience overall and has a full suite of proactive safety features included as standard equipment. Buyers who do not need three rows can also consider the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, which has the same engine as the Durango SRT and comes with all of our Durango SRT tester’s safety features as standard equipment for a starting MSRP of $69,876.
The 2019 Dodge Durango SRT is a thoroughbred American muscle machine for grown-up families. Its HEMI V8 engine delivers the straight-line acceleration that many sports cars can only dream about, and it has the towing and passenger capacity that would fit most family’s needs. The Durango SRT is not a truck for many, as most buyers prefer refinement and fuel efficiency over raw power in a family vehicle, but it exists to fill a niche in the market for hardcore hot rod fans and performance-oriented families alike.