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Dodge's Durango SRT offers three rows of performance

Scott Sturgis, Auto Columnist

Updated: Friday, December 8, 2017, 9:16 AM

2018 Dodge Durango SRT

2018 Dodge Durango SRT: A quick test of an even quicker SUV.

Price: Starts at an MSRP of $62,995 (excluding $1,095 destination).

Marketer’s pitch: “King of SUVs.”

Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver liked that “this price is right” and that it has a “throaty roar, 6.4-liter V-8 thrust,” but not that it “seats six, not seven” and has “6.4-liter V-8 thirst.”

Reality: A short visit tells us all we need to know.

A quick test: After last week’s ride in the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, the Durango SRT seems like a seriously slow ride in comparison.

I didn’t get to put the six-seater SUV through the usual weeklong test; this was just a little bit of fun for the journalist crowd while we waited for Demons to get freed up on the track. But we put about 15 miles on the SUV around the roads of South Jersey.

Up to speed: The 6.4-liter V-8 creates 475 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, a crazy amount for any vehicle, and the most for any SUV.

Dodge’s Matt McAlear, a product senior manager, told us, “It’s our three-row Charger.” It goes from 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds. “Those are great numbers for any car.” And this one has room for all the Sturgis Kids.

Shifty: An 8-speed overdrive automatic is standard on all models, as is full-time 4WD.

On the road: Handling was not too bad for an SUV. We stayed mostly on the straightaways of South Jersey, but I could get a good feel for the cornering and zig and zags, and they felt fun enough.

The ride was not too harsh in spite of all the sportiness, though. New Jersey roads are in pitiful shape after years of not having a repair budget, so we got a real feel for the Durango on the bumps, and it handled them well.

Driver’s Seat: The front seats – I did get to try both sides, riding with a fellow journalist – were comfortable and supportive, but a little on the hard side.

The gauge pod is standard Dodge – clear and easy to read. Dashboard and seats with white and silver trim look the part of a sporty vehicle.

Friends and stuff: The 2/2/2 seating gives everyone an individual pod but doesn’t allow for much flexibility for extra people. Still, the Durango is a fairly roomy and easy-to-access SUV.

Cargo capacity totals 84.5 cubic feet behind the first row, much less than the 120 in a Suburban and only slightly more than half in a Sienna or Pacifica. And the Durango SRT is not just for life in the fast lane — buyers with big trailers to tow won’t feel slighted. Dodge claims the Durango SRT’s 8,700-pound towing capacity means it outhauls every other three-row SUV in its class.

Play some tunes: I wasn’t going to torture my colleagues with my taste in music, so I didn’t get to test its muddy production repair qualities. But operating the stereo is a snap, with dials for volume and tuning and a fairly complicit touchscreen for other functions.

Keeping warm and cool: The heater controls are simple as well — a dial for the blower speed and up/down arrows for the temperature. Source is handled inside the touchscreen, as are the standard heated and cooled seats.

Have some fun: The Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in Chandler, Ariz., offers all customers who buy a new-model SRT one full-day session of high-performance driving with professional instruction and time on the track as part of the Dodge SRT package.

Fuel economy: The Durango SRT averaged 15.0 mpg in whatever testing it endured under the careless driving of various journalists. It prefers to drink premium.

Where it’s built: Detroit.

How it’s built: After a couple of years of 3-out-of-5 reliability ratings, the 2016 slid to a 1, and the Durango is now back to a 2 for 2017 and 2018, according to Consumer Reports.

In the end: A fun and fast ride, with room for the family. But, oh, that fuel consumption, and the reliability rating makes me a little nervous as well.

Scott Sturgis, Auto Columnist

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