Dodge is unique among automakers today. At a time when so many companies are reducing engine sizes in their vehicles to increase fuel economy and lower price, Dodge is heading in the opposite direction. The company’s muscle cars offer a level of performance and power rarely seen outside of the exotic sports car world, and its legendary supercharged Hellcat V8 is a masterclass in motorsports and engineering.
Not one to be satisfied with making some of the fastest American cars on the road, Dodge decided to make one of the fastest domestic SUVs as well. The 2020 Dodge Durango SRT is powered by a 475-horsepower 6.4-liter (392 cubic-inch) V8. It’s big, it’s extremely loud, and it’s blazingly fast. It’s the go anywhere, do anything vehicle for people that want a performance car but only have room for a family vehicle in the garage. Let’s explore the finer points of the 2020 Dodge Durango SRT.
It’s a Great All-Rounder
If you, like me, have a limited number of spots in your driveway, there may not be an option to own a dedicated sports car or fun weekend car. That’s where a vehicle like the Durango makes a ton of sense, but the downside is that there will need to be some sacrifices to make it all work. The Durango SRT can seat seven people comfortably across its three plush rows, and manages to be a completely tolerable, family-friendly vehicle that just happens to have a raging V8 under the hood.
That’s a differentiator for the Durango among American SUVs. Only the high-performance models from German brands are on the same level, and they’re all significantly more expensive. The Dodge is special because of its combination of value, performance, and utility.
It’s Loud. Very Loud.
The Durango SRT’s exhaust is permanently set to “neighbor scaring” mode. It’s a distinct and awesome old-school V8 muscle car sound, but unless you’re into loud cars, it might become tiresome. Cold starts will wake the dead from a mile away, and the sound has no trouble finding their way into the Durango’s otherwise well-insulated cabin.
Under hard acceleration, there’s nothing else like the Durango on the market today. It almost screams as the RPMs climb, and between shifts, there’s a satisfying growl while the engine drops revs. At idle, there’s no mistaking that the SRT is packing some real heat, and even leisurely cruises produce enough sound to draw attention.
It’s Almost Supercar Quick
The Durango’s 0-60 mph time of 4.7 seconds is on par with exotic supercars from just a couple of decades ago. The big SUV feels every bit as fast as that number looks on paper. A stomp on the throttle brings a wave of sound, and an immediate jolt as all four wheels claw to get traction. It’s an impressive experience, and the Durango just keeps pulling hard well past a responsible level of speed. It’s able to do all of that while maintaining a towing rating of 8,700 pounds.
It Can Actually Handle
You might be looking at the Durango SRT and thinking that there’s no way that a vehicle of its size could do anything other than lumber along in a straight line. It’s true that the Durango is a big vehicle, but Dodge gave it an adaptive suspension set up that helps mask the SUVs mass. On broken pavement and rough roads, the Durango can be choppy and punishing, but on smoother tarmac, the suspension keeps the big vehicle in check well enough to get some great cornering in. Steering is sharp, and the wheel does a good job of telegraphing what’s going on under the vehicle. Brakes performance is solid as well, as the Brembo six-piston brakes do their job upfront and the four-piston units in back handle business without complaint.
It’s Actually a Good Value
Look, it’s hard to call a vehicle that can cost over $70,000 a good value, but that’s what I’m about to do here. The Durango SRT is a good value. End of story. Against anything else with comparable performance and as much usable space, the Durango is a downright bargain. My Durango test vehicle had a price that landed just over $70,000 with options and destination. That might sound like a lot, and it is without context, but considering the competition, that’s a tame price tag. The Audi RS Q8 can hit 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds but costs $140,000. The BMW X3 M is fast but is much smaller and starts at $70,000. The Durango’s all-in price lands well below those vehicles’ numbers, and it arguably has the most personality of them all.
In 2021, the company will boost the SUV’s performance envelope even further with the addition of a Hellcat option as well. Dodge is hard at work on the next generation Durango, but there’s nothing wrong with the one we have now. The SRT trim is boatloads of fun, but it’s overkill for a large portion of the car-buying public. If you like the Durango’s looks but don’t want a raging V8, the Durango GT will get the job done just fine and for just over half the price of the SRT.