Updated: Jan 10
When I was in my first year writing about cars for a living, Dodge dropped a new SUV on the market called the Durango. For the time, the styling was aggressive, macho in a way the competition wasn't, and it offered some oomph---three engine choices, a 175-horsepower V6, a 230-horsepower V8 and a 245-horsepower V8.
If it's true that power corrupts, then in the last 23 years, the Durango has gone all the way to the dark side. The 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat AWD is still an SUV. In '98, that stood for "Sport Utility Vehicle." In this case, it stands for "Satanic Utility Vehicle".
Okay, Stellantis, which owns Dodge, might argue that acronym. But seriously----they chose the name Hellcat, they're in charge of the imagery and the only reason this thing isn't packing 666 horsepower is----it's not enough. Under a hood that has real, functioning hood scoops is a 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8 making 640 pounds per foot of torque and 710 horsepower. Seven hundred and ten. That's three more than the 2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody I reviewed last summer.
And yeah, that's more than offset by the several hundred pound weight difference between the Durango and the Charger, but you know what? Somehow, someway (Sorcery? No. It's actually the all-wheel drive and traction control) the Durango SRT Hellcat gets to 60 from a standing start in 3.6 seconds-----the same as a Charger SRT Hellcat---and only one-tenth of a second slower than the 797-horsepower Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye. Top speed? 180. Electronically limited to stay within the limits of what the tires are rated for. This level of performance comes at a price beyond the initial purchase. The EPA fuel economy estimate is 12 miles per gallon city, 17 highway. On average, every 100 miles you cover will eat 7.7 gallons of gasoline. More if you bury your foot in it.
With the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat AWD, it's party in the front, business in the back. The rear cargo area is just as useful, just as practical (keep that word in mind for negotiations with life partners as to why you should buy one of these) as the $32,750 Dodge Durango SXT. However, as you move forward through the cabin, there are some obvious upgrades. The base price of the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat AWD is $80,995. The 710-horsepower HEMI is absolutely responsible for some of that, but not all. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights at that price are Brembo performance brakes with two-piece rotors, SRT Performance Pages (a neat feature in the infotainment screen that lets you keep track of all sorts of data including 0-60, 0-100, reaction time, braking speed and more), a nine-speaker Alpine audio system with subwoofer, heated and ventilated front seats, wireless phone charging and automatic high beams.
It's a complete enough package that our tester really only had three options---the Premium Interior Group, with a suede headliner, premium instrument panel and forged carbon fiber interior accents ($2,495), a tire upgrade ($595) and blind spot/cross-path detection ($495). So, with $1,495 destination charge, the as-tested price of the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat AWD is $86,075.
Whether that's sell-your-soul money is for you to decide, as is the cost/benefit ratio of owning the fastest SUV on the planet. For my part, I'll just say it's one....um....hell of a ride.