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2018 Dodge Durango SRT first Driveway: Whenever the tow Car IS the Trail Auto

2018 Dodge Durango SRT first Driveway: Whenever the tow Car IS the Trail Auto

My initial minutes within this brand new Durango SRT have been spent correcting the heavily fortified leather chairs and also flat-bottom steering wheel — it is important to have those right in a track day.) Once settled , it is time gauge my environment and to shop about. In the windshield, then after bogged down the straightaway, turn 1 is clearly marked and easy to see. To the right, a 153-foot-tall pagoda. On the left, a lawn of bricks.) In rear, two rows of chairs.

()Wait. Why am I going to conduct exactly the infield road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway at a Durango?

()SRT is the reason. They bolted into a 6.4-liter Hemi engine, great for 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, along with an equally competent eight-speed automated transmission. Mega Brembo wheels operate together 295/45R-20 Pirelli P Zero tires to detain progress as fast as it assembles. SRT also stiffened up the front and rear springs, fattened up the rear stabilizer bar and extra Bilstein adaptable shocks. Then there’s the electronics. Throttle mapping, the system and power steering weight adjust. That’s common, but SRT also quickens gear-shift time, sends more power to the rear of the all-wheel-drive system and tightens up shock absorbers.

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Gallery: 2018 Dodge Durango SRT Interior

The aforementioned adjustability comes from choosing one of seven different drive modes available. And two of those modes are track and sport. In track mode, this SUV, with seating for six, can withstand hot (well, very warm) laps on a track. The default setting is automatic, making the Durango SRT its self. There’s also eco, to squeak out a (very) little additional mpg, valet mode, which takes away all of the hoonability, and snow mode for spotty weather.

But the seventh driving mode is tow, and it feels out of place within this SUV. After all, a track car and a vehicle are two things that are distinct. But not in this circumstance. All the additional cooling systems, beefy suspension and brakes needed to generate the SRT hold up on-track also aid in pulling 8,700 pounds around without trouble. For good measure, SRT iced this specific cake with luxury, wrapping the Durango in Napa leather with suede inserts and installing a fancy stereo.

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Gallery: 2018 Dodge Durango SRT Road

The Execution

This Durango SRT is a jack-of-all-trades, in the broadest sense, in the automotive world. And it achieves its objective. Romping around Indy in a two-and-a-half-ton stuff hauler should cause worse, or understeer and body roll. But no, the SRT is competent, which is high praise for this class of vehicle.

The throaty V8 growls and howls, like ’60s era Trans Am race cars, and shifts bang off in just 160 milliseconds with the violence of a mule kick. It’s simple to see better than 120 mph before stomping on the binders for turn 1. At turn-in, the Durango, well, does. Body control is composed, yet not unnaturally stiff. And SRT tuned chassis balance darn machine of this size. There’s understeer at the limit, but it’s simple to erase with a dollop of throttle or a dab of brake. It drives like a tall Challenger, which drives like a muscle car. Don’t believe me? Watch:-LRB-***)

Admittedly, the brake pedal did get long over the morning but never faded enough to concern anyone. Heat exchangers and the air inlets, vents did their job to keep the powertrain from losing its cool. And when track time ended, there was a Durango SRT fueled and prepared to the stop to commute.

Switched to auto mode, the transmission calms way down and the suspension happily absorbs bumps and ruts in the street. The animal that hustles its way commutes down the highway with aplomb. The seats are both heated and cooled. And the Uconnect infotainment system works well, causing less frustration than most systems available on the market these days. This one comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and also controls a nine-speaker, 506-watt sound system. And did we mention it tows things? Dodge strapped the SRT and a boat together to prove it.

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Gallery: 2018 Dodge Durango SRT Towing

The Takeaway

The Dodge Durango SRT isn’t a vehicle for folks who appreciate subtlety or want to blend in. SRT logos abound, as well as two 392 emblems on both sides of the SUV so that everyone knows the amount of cubic inches displaced in this specific engine. It is not cheap either — base price is $64,090, and our examples came loaded with an additional $11,000 worth of goodies.

But nothing comes close to offering such distinctive character together with such varied capabilities. You’re limited by space and require a car to take care of everything, if, the Durango SRT is a choice.

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Gallery: 2018 Dodge Durango SRT Uconnect

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