2018 Dodge Durango SRT First Drive: Race On Sunday, Haul On Monday

– Indianapolis, Indiana

It’s not every day that the launch of a new three-row SUV takes place at a race track. Then again, the Dodge Durango SRT is not like every other three-row SUV. Think of it as a taller, more spacious Charger, brimming with muscle-car looks, power, and sound. Or, alternatively, as a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT with an extra set of seats in the back.

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“We’re trying to differentiate these cars from everything else that’s out there,” says Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger car brands for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. That differentiation starts with an aggressive look that commands attention from every angle. Compared to a standard Durango, you’ll spot a new vented hood, a more aggressive fascia with lots of vents and ducting, fender flares to cover the 10-inch-wide wheels, and big dual exhausts out back. (Incidentally, you can now also get the SRT’s look on the 2018 Durango R/T.)

2018 Dodge Durango SRT: First Drive
2018 Dodge Durango SRT: First Drive

You get 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, enough to get this 5,510-pound SUV to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 12.9.

The extra air ducts are not just for show, helping both extract heat from the engine bay and bring in cooler air for the intake. On a hot test day at Virginia International Raceway, engineers found that Durango SRTs with the cold-air inlet ducts lost about 0.3 seconds in lap times as the temperature rose during a test day; vehicles without those ducts lost 1.5 seconds.