Dodge’s Durango Hellcat –
WITH HELLCAT, IT’S DUR-AN-GO!
Automakers occasionally bring out models that garner a lot more attention than they do sales. These vehicles – often called ‘halo vehicles’ – are usually engineered to be fast, have a loud (and great) exhaust note, and are the envy of teenage boys. They’re also usually expensive gas guzzlers that are on a wish list that probably won’t be realized.
Well, hey, a few weeks ago I realized one of the items on my wish list, but just for one helluva week, test driving a 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat AWD. It brought with it an MSRP price tag of $90,315 and an exhaust note that made me smile every time I pushed the ignition. But, before you think that you might be in the market for one…well, forget it. As Dodge announced in November 2020 that they would only produce 2,000 Durango SRT Hellcats for the 2021 model year, they sold out almost immediately.
Let’s start with the details on Dodge’s unique full-size SUV. The official press release says it best: “The Durango SRT Hellcat is the most powerful SUV ever, delivering 710 horsepower and 645 lb.-ft. of torque from the proven supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI® Hellcat V-8 engine paired with the quick-shifting TorqueFlite 8HP95 eight-speed automatic transmission. The Durango SRT Hellcat has a 0-60 miles per hour time of 3.5 seconds, a quarter-mile elapsed time of 11.5 seconds as certified by the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and a top speed of 180 mph.” (The italics are ours, to help digestion.)
All of that makes for a 3-row SUV that is insanely fast, one that can easily blow the doors off of most sports cars driving down the road. But it is also one that handled beautifully, although I never attempted to challenge the powertrain to its fullest. And in case you’re interested, fuel economy ratings for the Durango Hellcat are predictably lousy with the big, supercharged 6.2 liter V8 getting 12 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway. As you’d guess, this is not a vehicle for people who care deeply about the environment; this is the SUV for those of us who love speed and lots of it.
The Durango Hellcat also garnered more attention than any other vehicle I’ve ever tested. The car was a constant attention magnet, both with drivers on the highway pulling alongside to stare and random strangers asking questions about it in parking lots. And it happened all the time. The Hellcat is not for the shy, unassuming types.
If you were fortunate to purchase a new 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, the good folks at Dodge want you to fully appreciate all that the superfast SUV can offer. Anyone buying a new Hellcat receives one full-day session at the Bondurant High Performance Driving School in Chandler, Arizona, to learn how to get the optimum performance from their new vehicles in a controlled environment. It’s a learning experience worth every rapid heartbeat of your time.
The Durango SRT Hellcat can still tow a boat and trailer, can still take all the kids to the school and the park, and can still bring home those DIY supplies from Home Depot. But that magic in this SUV is under the hood, where that supercharged monster powertrain lives. I had one helluva week.