Test Drive Notes Library
- Nostalgic. Whenever there is major technological change, there are some people who rush to embrace it. Think early Prius and Tesla owners. Then there are people whose cold, dead fingers have to be peeled off the buggy whip. Think Durango Hellcat buyers. This vehicle is old school. If you have fond memories of overpowered, exhaust burbling, gas guzzling V8s of your youth, and want to see how far that technology can be pushed before it's gone, your SUV is here.
- Stupid fast. To make this vehicle, Dodge dropped a 6.2L, supercharged V8 making 700+ horsepower into their run-of-the-mill, three-row, family SUV. The results, as you might expect, are a little hairy. You can drive the Durango Hellcat reasonably gently, but push the gas pedal even part way down and and you’ll rouse the muscle-car under the hood and fly up the highway entrance ramp. 0-60 takes place in a ridiculous three and half seconds. If you want that AND three rows for the kids and mother-in-law, Dodge hears you.
- Transmission. The eight-speed automatic does a good job in the Durango. It actually seems to sense when you’re cornering, and holds a gear rather than upshifting. With this much power, the engine braking helps it feel a little more in control. Otherwise, the transmission operates unobtrusively, even though the loud engine noise gives away every shift.
- Interior amenities. It does have three rows of seats. So if you’re an old muscle-car guy, but now have a family, you can sort of have it both ways. The front seats are supportive. The second row features optional captain’s chairs, which makes access to the third row bench pretty easy. The third row itself actually isn’t too bad — I mean, for you. We're sitting up front. For the driver, Stellantis’ (Dodge’s parent company) screen interface is very good and easy to make sense of. The Durango has today’s expected amenities like wireless charging, dual climate, and all that stuff.
- Color. Can you tell that we're struggling to come up with more things that are notable about about this beast than its prodigious power? Well, we can honestly say we love the color. Our Durango came in a beautiful, Scandinavian medium blue that Dodge calls Reactor Blue Pearl Coat. Great color, Dodge!
Test Drive Notes Library
- Too much engine. Dodge is playing to a very specific, hot rod crowd with the Hellcat products. Their play here is to drop the largest, most powerful, brutish gasoline engine they can into the existing cars that they sell. Hey, where’s my Hellcat Minivan, Stellantis? The problem is that the Durango chassis doesn’t handle the power well. It’s not a bad chassis with the 3.6L V6. And they obviously did everything they could to beef up the suspension to handle it. But the rest of the car seems to struggle under the weight and demands the engine puts on it.
- Ride. The suspension had to be tightened up to handle the engine. And the result is an often harsh experience. On smooth pavement, or highway, it’s mostly not bad. But go over a speed bump or pot hole, even slowly, and you’re likely to get a side to side shake or unsettling movement. It’s not a sophisticated ride.
- Sound. I have no doubt that potential Durango Hellcat buyers love the sound. It burbles, it roars, it screams. The flip side is that it’s obnoxious to the rest of the population. We get it — that’s part of the appeal. Own the Priuses. But even if you don’t mind being seen as a guy whose life peaked in high school, the constant whine of the supercharger and flatulence of the exhaust sound may quickly get tiresome.
- Mileage. It’s rated at 13 mpg overall. We got 10.5. Your mileage may vary. But not by much.
- Price. All this can be yours for a mere $86,000. Some will argue that’s a bargain, given the pure number of horsepower you get. But there are a lot of not-quite-as-powerful, but more-than-powerful-enough SUVs for $86,000 that offer you speed, luxury, ride, handling, refinement, and a nicer interior. This is a collector’s item. It’s for those few who want to own the last gasp of the remnants of the gasoline powered muscle-car era. Enjoy. You won’t own it long before a nerd in a 1,000 hp Lucid Air silently kicks your ass pulling away from a stop light.
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