By Peter Perrotta
“Off the hook.”
If there is one phrase that can best describe Dodge’s 2021 Durango SRT Hellcat, it would have to simply be: “Off the hook.”
I know of no better way to say it folks. This souped-up SUV – the most powerful SUV ever – is capable of producing 710 horsepower.
It is flat out crazy fast and furiously aggressive in not only its performance but with its revamped look – inside and out.
When I first jumped behind the wheel of this monster to begin my one-week test drive recently, I was almost afraid to punch the accelerator. I knew I was going to be in for exhilarating jolt. I just wasn’t quite sure how much of jolt.
Let me tell you friends, this “cat” is crazy fast.
Not only does it plaster you back into your contoured performance seat when you punch it, it does it with smoothness and an accompanying sound that lets you know this is something very special.
Powering this beast is a supercharged 6.2 liter HEMI Hellcat V-8 engine that is paired with a very smooth shifting eight speed transmission.
The Durango, a three-row, full-sized SUV, now joins Dodge’s Challenger and Charger to be featured in Hellcat form. However, Dodge says that 2021 will be the only year it produces a Hellcat Durango.
According to the folks at Dodge: the Durango SRT Hellcat runs 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds; has a National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) certified quarter-mile elapsed time of 11.5 seconds; is capable of a top speed of 180 mph and runs 1.5 seconds faster than the SRT 392 on a 2.1 mile road course.
For 2021, the entire Durango line now features an updated aggressive exterior with a forward leaning profile, a new front fascia, grille, rear spoiler and wheel options.
A performance inspired interior now features a new driver-oriented cockpit, including a new instrument panel, wrapped and accent stitched mid-bolster and center console and upgraded door panels.
It also features an upgraded U-Connect 5 system that controls all the functions of the 10.1 inch touchscreen center command system that controls navigation, phone, music and vehicle functions.
The new look interior and exterior certainly works for me. I find it to be sporty and aggressive and much to my liking. There is plenty of head and leg room inside.
The seats are comfortable and the overall sight lines are good as well.
When it comes to power, needless to say, this Hellcat has plenty to offer.
But, how does it ride?
There are various different drive modes you can select for this Durango. For the most part I used the standard “auto” mode which will determine for you when to put it into 4 wheel drive mode. I also used the “sport” mode quite a bit which enhances this engine’s roar even more than it already is.
I didn’t get a chance to take this Durango off road, however, since we were hit with a three-day snowstorm. I certainly took advantage of this vehicle’s “snow” mode.
When you place this bear of an SUV in its “snow mode” it chews up any ice or snow underneath its feet with ease.
Overall, the Durango has a good, solid ride to it. It handles quite smoothly for a big powerful SUV and despite all of its overwhelming power, you don’t ever feel you can’t control this SUV. It handles bumps and rough roads quite well.
However, in “sport” mode, it does stiffen the suspension a bit so you do feel the bumps in the road a little more.
Needless to say, all of this power and luxury doesn’t come cheap.
The base price of the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat comes in at $80,995. The bottom line sticker price of the Green Hellcat I tested came in at $92,655.
Additional options included: $2,395 for a technology group package; $1,995 for a rear seat DVD entertainment system; $1,195 for an enhanced tow package; $2,495 for the premium interior upgrade package; $595 for a second row console; $995 for a Harmon Kardon sound system; $495 for blind spot detection and $1,495 for destination and delivery.
The technology group package includes: advanced brake assist; lane departure warning; forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control.
The premium interior group upgrade includes: suede headliner; a premium instrument panel and forged carbon fiber accents.
The folks at Car and Driver gave the Durango Hellcat high marks for its “insane power and great body control.” It called the Hellcat “the ultimate schlepper.” Car and Driver gave the Hellcat low marks for its “horrific gas mileage” and said the “supercharger squeals ever at low rpms.”
Yes, you can hear the blower doing its thing from time to time under the hood, but, to be honest, that really didn’t bother me much.
As far as gas mileage goes, yes, this is not your typical “tree huggers” ride. What do you expect?
The Durango has a huge 25-gallon gas tank and published reports rate its average gas mile rating as 12 miles per gallon in city driving and 17 mpg on the highway.
Moreover, if you have a heavy foot and enjoy showing off the Hellcat’s demon like speed, I could guarantee you those gas mileage ratings won’t be that generous.
At the end of the day, folks, this isn’t your everyday soccer mom or soccer dad SUV you tote the kids around in.
To be honest, this is purely an expensive specialty vehicle that is simply a ton of fun to drive.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. For comments and questions he can be contacted at email@example.com.