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DRIVEN: 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat [Review]

Might This Be The Ultimate Family Hauling, Towing, Go Fast SUV?

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

The 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat is a 1-year only big ferocious SUV that defies physics. This 3-row SUV sprints to 60 MPH in only 3.5-seconds and can dispense of the 1/4-mile in just 11.5-seconds (an NHRA certified time). That speed is accomplished with a Supercharged 6.2L Hemi Hellcat V8 putting down 710 hp and 645 lb.-ft. of torque through an 8-speed automatic and an AWD system. Did we mention that this speedy SUV can also tow up to 8,700-pounds?!?!

This really is a do it all SUV, but with great power comes great price, over $91,000 for our tester.

More Hellcats

FCA’s Hellcat all the things program is nearly complete. This Durango SRT Hellcat somehow even puts down more power, 8-hp more, than the insane 2021 RAM TRX. While the Durango doesn’t have the off-road chops the TRX has, it does have more people moving capability and slightly more towing capacity.

The Durango SRT Hellcat even has more of everything than the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk with which it shares basic architecture. That more does include another 344-pounds (5,710 curb weight), however. Somehow with only 3 hp more the Durango manages to equal the Trackhawk’s 0-60 time and beat it by 1/2-second in the 1/4-mile. Again, this big SUV defies physics.

It’s Loud

The 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat is loud in every possible way. Sure it has the amazing exhaust growl and supercharger whine that you’d expect. It also has a range of Hellcat and SRT logos inside and out, which you’d expect from a big brash Dodge muscle vehicle.

But, what you might not expect are the super loud turn signal or remote lock beep. Even the huge red brake calipers scream that there is a monster under the skin of this big family hauler. While we actually grew quite fond of the Octane Red paint on this Durango SRT Hellcat, the bright red brake calipers did clash with the paint.

Our Computer Overlords

The real magic that Dodge has figured out with these Hellcat vehicles is how to milk the most from the big motors while keeping the vehicles controllable for mere mortals. This is accomplished through the SRT Drive Modes accessed through the new 10.1-inch Uconnect infotainment touchscreen.

You get an Auto Drive Mode, with a rear-biased torque split of 60%, a Sport Mode (65%), and a Track Mode (70%). While smokey burnouts aren’t really a thing with this AWD SUV, Track mode does let you initiate 4-wheel drifts a bit easier. There are also Snow and Towing Drive Modes. While this is a heavy AWD SUV, I’m not so sure I’d try to tame this high horsepower monster in the snow, without snow tires at least.

The Durango’s cupholders are not Nalgene friendly.

I do love that the SRT Drive Modes & Launch Control are both quickly accessed through piano key hard buttons on the center stack. This makes them so much quicker to access than going through the menus in the infotainment system. Speaking of launch control, how awesome is having that system on a big 3-row SUV! Even in cold wet conditions, I managed a 4.0-second 0-60 time.

The SRT Performance Pages in the infotainment system offer up even more fun than just the drive modes. You get G-meters, all kinds of performance tracking info, and the ability to dial in things like launch control and drive modes to custom settings that you prefer. This is the type of custom tunning that would have required carrying around a laptop to plug into the vehicle not that many years ago, and are features rarely found in a big SUV.

A big frustration with the infotainment system, which is otherwise pretty intuitive, is that many screens don’t have a back button on them. This means you need to go all the way back to a main menu, which is annoying and requires more effort than it should. On the flip side of that coin, the touchscreen is pretty responsive and the screen is bright and vivid.

Inside The Durango SRT Hellcat

Let’s jump being the wheel of the Durango SRT Hellcat. The first thing you notice is the big chunky very Dodge steering wheel. While it looks racy with its flat bottom, leather, and cross-stitching, it doesn’t feel great at all. Every piece of it is just big and bulky, the cross stitching is a bit messy, and the center material with the SRT logo is made of a super cheap feeling and looking rubber. The wheel is heated and warms up super fast. The paddle shifters on this Durango are just odd little rabbit ears that stick up behind the wheel, instead of full paddles. This steering wheel does not lend itself to performance driving and we’d expect a lot nicer in a $90,000 vehicle.

The seats are big and boxy. They look very muscular, and the materials are quite nice. The issue for me, like in all Dodge vehicles, is that they are made for a 200-pound-plus person and I’m a lanky 165-pound guy. This means that I roll around in the seats a bit when pulling Gs in this powerful machine and that they are a bit firm for long road trips. The front, and second row, bucket seats are heated, and heat up fast. The second row also gets USB and 110V plugs, as well as an optional full video entertainment system in this example. While the third row of seats actually has pretty good leg and headroom, it lacks easy access. Both the second and third-row seats are fully manual. This means no power drop or raise, like you’d expect from a modern 3-row SUV, especially in this price range.

Back in the driver’s seat, you’ll love how responsive the skinny pedal is and the quality deadpedal for your left foot, but you won’t be impressed by the brake pedal. While the huge Brembo brakes are effective and will bring this big heavy SUV to a stop quickly, the pedal feel is very numb and vague. The brakes don’t have much intermediary feel to them in my experience. This makes it really hard to be precise with your braking inputs when you’re pushing the vehicle to its limits.

While the rear tailgate is powered, you’ll probably want to only use the raise and lower button on the remote. The interior tailgate drop button is on the inside side of the vehicle, versus in the tailgate like nearly every other SUV. This means that you have to hit the button and then get out of the way rather quickly as the tailgate closes, and duck in the case of someone as tall as myself.

While I love the wireless phone charger location and the optional Harmon-Kardon audio system is pretty good, the interior is just a weird combo of premium & cheap materials. The interior feels old and new at the same time, which I guess isn’t that surprising, as it is just an updated version of what debuted all the way back in 2011.

Outside The Durango SRT Hellcat

The body style also came out in 2011 and hasn’t seen much change over that time. The SRT touches do help give it more aggressive and pleasing lines overall, however. I particularly love the proportions of details on the front of the Durango SRT Hellcat, but am really not a fan of the proportions of the rear doors/quarter panel when viewed from a profile. The awkwardly long rear door and the sizing of the rear quarter panel and side glass just don’t work for me. I also feel like the fat door handles look and feel cheap.

I do really appreciate the muscular 20×10-inch SRT Lights Out Wheels. They just look right on this big SUV.

If You Have To Ask…

You don’t buy a muscle vehicle like the 2021 Durango SRT Hellcat because you want good fuel economy. Between its big size, weight, and engine there is little chance this SUV won’t guzzle dino juice. While the EPA gave the Durango SRT Hellcat a 13 MPG average, I only managed 7 MPG during my 92-miles of testing.

No, I didn’t try to optimize fuel economy, and yes I mashed the skinny pedal more than a few times. Like all Hellcat vehicles, this Durango begs to go fast from stoplight to stoplight. The supercharger whine is addictive, the issue being that when it sounds it’s best you’re going entirely too fast for public roads.

Is it Time to Write a Big Check?

The base price for a 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat is $80,995. Our tester had a $91,460 sticker price, as it had the technology group, rear DVD entertainment, premium interior, 2nd-row console, Harmon Kardon system, and blind-spot/cross-path detection options.

If you want to get a 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat for yourself, you need to act very fast. This is a one year only vehicle, as an all-new redesigned Durango is coming out for the 2022 model year. Production will be limited as well, especially with the supply chain issues that the global pandemic has caused.

To find a dealer near you and/or build out your own dream Durango SRT Hellcat go to Dodge’s site HERE.

About Bryon Dorr

AutoWise Editor-in-Chief Bryon Dorr has been a lifelong automotive enthusiast. From the supercar posters on his childhood walls to the massive Hot Wheels/Matchbox collection, Bryon has been dreaming about automotive adventures his entire life. For the past decade+ Bryon has pursued a career in automotive photography and journalism. He's worked for a wide range of the top outlets in the overland, off-road, adventure motorcycle, and general automotive media. His current household automotive quiver includes a custom overland 2013 GX460, a 2020 Ioniq Electric, and a 2006 KTM 950 Adv. He recently sold his 996TT, and is on the hunt for a new performance car.