Even before the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat had pulled up into my driveway, a Dodge product communications representative had sent me an email with a cheerful reminder that “with great power comes great responsibility.” That power, of course, is the Hellcat’s 710 horsepower and 645 lb-ft of torque, and the responsibility, I assumed, was not getting this limited-production SUV impounded for excessive speeding. The email wrapped up with a “friendly reminder to stay safe, but of course, have a blast.” Challenge accepted.
Daily Driving A 710-HP Monster
At its core, the Durango SRT Hellcat is essentially a modern-day hot rod that crams a high-powered engine under the hood of an older vehicle, although instead of a Deuce Coupe with a flathead V8 this is well-aged SUV is powered by Dodge’s insanely powerful and omnipresent supercharged 6.2-liter Hellcat V8. This is the same engine found under the hood of the Charger Hellcat, Challenger Hellcat, Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, and Ram TRX. Dodge makes no mention of any upgrades to the Durango’s eight-speed automatic, but this transmission has no problem keeping up with monster power output. Not that fuel economy comes to play in a vehicle such as the Durango Hellcat, but this tester averaged right around 10 mpg after a week of driving, which obviously included plenty of heavy, wide-open-throttle acceleration runs.
Weighing in at 5,710 pounds, the Durango Hellcat is able to accelerate like a supercar hitting 0-60 in just 3.5 seconds (according to Dodge) putting it in the same ballpark as the Shelby GT500 and Chevrolet Corvette Stingray! Dodge also says that this three-row SUV has an NHRA-certified quarter-mile time of 11.5 seconds and a top speed of 180 mph. The Durango has the same supercharger whine as the other Hellcat-powered models, but this might be the best-sounding Hellcat that exhales loudly through dual exhaust with a crossover X-pipe and massive four-inch exhaust outlets. In his video review of the Hellcat Durango, Glucker said that the Durango SRT 392 sounds better than this Hellcat, but I respectfully disagree.
Laying down all that power is an easy task thanks to the Hellcat’s standard full-time all-wheel drive. The amount of torque distribution varies depending on the chosen drive mode, but the Sport and Track modes send up to 70 percent of the torque to the rear wheels. Even with all that power, this all-wheel-drive system delivers hard, neck-snapping take-offs without the slightest bit of hesitation. Flat, straight Florida roads prevented me from enjoying the Durango Hellcat’s steering and handling capabilities too much, but the huge brakes do an excellent job of bringing this SUV to a quick stop. Up front, the Hellcat is fitted with Brembo six-piston calipers and two-piece rotors measuring 15.7 inches in diameter, and the rear brakes are 13.78 inches with Brembo four-piston calipers; for comparison, the base Durango uses 13-inch rotors front and rear! The 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat might be designed for the track, but it’s still an ideal family vehicle with seating for seven and the ability to haul 8,700 pounds!
The current Durango is 11 years old with the last major redesign coming in 2010 and Dodge has been offering SRT versions since 2018, so there are no surprises when it comes to the looks of the Durango SRT Hellcat. The Durango’s vented hood and racing stripes are the same that have been used on the Durango for the R/T and SRT models for years, but for 2021, the SRT and SRT Hellcat adds extra aero with a new splitter up front. Even with its “White Knuckle” paint job, black and red racing stripes, blacked-out badges, and 20-inch wheels, the Durango Hellcat is nowhere near as obnoxious looking as the Hellcat Charger, Challenger, and Ram TRX. Bottom line, the Durango Hellcat is about as much of a sleeper as a 710-hp SUV can get… until you press the “Start” button and let the supercharged engine rumble to life.
Room For The Whole Fam
For a vehicle that is capable of accelerating like a supercar, the Durango Hellcat sure has the functionality of a minivan. In Hellcat trim, the mid-size Durango doesn’t lose much of its practicality with three rows of seating with plenty of room for six adults (SRT models are only available with second-row captain’s chairs instead of a middle bench seat). It’s not often that vehicles offer performance and comfort, but the Durango Hellcat manages to do just that.
Looking around the interior of the Durango Hellcat, it’s probably not the design and quality expected from an $80,000+ vehicle, but the Hellcat’s price is more about exclusivity and performance rather than luxury. That being said, the Hellcat comes loaded with just about all the options offered on the Durango including heated and cooled front seats, a wireless smartphone charger, and a 10.1-inch touchscreen display with navigation and SRT performance pages. Options on this tester included $2,495 for a suede headliner, stitched instrument panel, and forged carbon-fiber cabin accents, the $1,595 high-performance leather seats, and $95 for the Demonic Red seat belts.
You’re Too Late
Right out of the gate, Dodge promised the Durango Hellcat would be an exclusive performance SUV with production limited to 2,000 units. If you wanted one of these Hellcat Durangos, you were probably too late as order books opened in November 2020 and the SUV was sold out just two months later. Due to that popularity, Dodge later said it would restart production to fulfill all “sold” orders. , although there’s no final word as to how many Durango Hellcats were built in total. This level of performance and exclusivity doesn’t come cheap, though. With no options, the Durango Hellcat starts at $80,995, and the one I got to drive tested out at $89,610… almost triple the price of a base 2021 Durango!
Given the age of the Durango and the introduction of the three-row Jeep Grand Cherokee L, it’s quite possible that this Hellcat model could very well be the last hurrah for the Durango nameplate. If that’s the case, this mid-size family hauler is going out with a bang!