The Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat takes the spotlight as the most powerful SUV on the planet, however, if bottom clenching surges of ridiculous acceleration are not your thing then you may consider the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT 392. This one may have 235 hp less than its sibling but not only does it sound better, it pretty much shares the Hellcat’s suspension, tires, and optional ($1,295) brakes, which my tester had.
Speaking of noise, I much prefer the naturally aspirated orchestra to the supercharger whine that’s ever-present in the Hellcat version, although my neighbors may disagree. Starting up in the morning produces a noise like Thor’s gargle and once you depress the gas pedal there really is no way of stealthily exiting your driveway.
The exhaust is wonderfully sonorous and bellows at full chat as it changes cogs in quickfire succession. The other good news is the cabin noise is much more refined than the Charger or Challenger 392s in that the annoying boominess is all but gone.
Familiarity under the hood?
The 6.4-liter Hemi hasn’t changed, it still makes 475 hp and 470 lb-ft managed through a smooth 8-speed automatic transmission, with a paddle-shift option. All this goodness makes for a 0-60 time of 4.4 seconds. True there are faster SUVs from the likes of BMW and Mercedes, but none have as much soul as this one.
What’s new for 2021?
The Durango’s new aggressive exterior features a new front fascia, LED low/high projector headlamps, LED daytime running lamp signatures, a new Charger/inspired grille, a rear spoiler and wheels.
Inside the Durango sees the most significant upgrades for the 2021 model year with a performance-inspired, driver-oriented cockpit, including a new instrument panel, five-times-faster Uconnect 5 with the largest-in-class 10.1-inch touchscreen, center console, and front door uppers. With all the updates, the interior feels much wider, higher-tech, and more refined than the outgoing model.
My 2021 Dodge Durango SRT 392 tester came with several coats of Octane Red-Pearl Coat, black wheels, a black interior and looked suitably menacing in any rear-view mirror. Prices start at $62,995, however, mine was loaded with options including the Rear DVD Entertainment Center ($1,995), Trailer Tow Group ($1,195), Premium Interior ($2,495) includes suede headliner, premium instrument panel, and carbon-fiber interior accents.
The car also had the SRT Red Brembo brake upgrade ($1,295) with 2-piece rotors and 6 piston calipers on the front and 4 pistons on the rear. Those options pushed the out the door price to $72,560.
On the Road
It’s loads of fun to drive, especially with the throttle wide open, which explains my 8.4 mpg rating the first day. Luckily, I eased up and ended up at an average of 11.5 mpg for the week. Despite being around for 10 years now Dodge has managed to keep the Durango fresh and the SRT is no exception. The engine barks, rumbles, and bellows as it whips through full-throttle upshifts thanks to the excellent 8-speed transmission. Downshifts are clean and swift too and the tuning keeps the engine tidily in its torque band, meaning blast away from a just changed traffic light is grin-inducing.
It’s not just quick, it handles itself well despite its size and, thanks to some pretty direct steering can be hustled along a back road with a great deal of poise and control. This is no Stelvio Q though, it’s best to approach the turns slowly then power out, and be ready for the next turn. The SRT does belie its size, by carving through tighter corners with a certain amount of finesse but enter a corner too fast and its sheer mass means you will be stomping on those huge Brembos, which are very good indeed.
The SRT has standard all-wheel drive and a host of drive modes —Track, Sport, Auto, Snow, Custom in fact a flavor for every mood. Sport mode was my favorite and I only tried Track briefly just to see what it was like. Shifts are ferocious in Track mode and somewhat jerky for street use, the main difference being more power is sent to the rear wheels (70%) versus 60% in Sport Mode, and traction control is deactivated.
The SRT 392’s chassis updates for 2021 include revised spring and damper tuning and stiffer rear shock mounts borrowed from the Hellcat model and do a great job in improving both handling and ride. Using Custom mode gives you the ability to tune steering sharpness, engine and drivetrain responsiveness, and adaptive damper firmness. This is good because I found the ride in Track mode to be somewhat harsh so dialing it back was necessary.
One option that was missing is the no-cost Lightweight Performance package which deletes the third row and adds a three-seat bench in place of the second-row captain’s chairs. I’m not sure how much of a difference that makes to the weight of the car but since it doesn’t cost anything why not?
Interior done right
Inside things have very much changed for the better, thanks to a new instrument panel, new center console, and revised door-panel inserts. Add to this a 7.0-inch display in the gauge cluster, a new 10.1-inch touchscreen that runs the latest Uconnect 5 infotainment software. This has always been one of my favorite systems in any car, this is the way it should be in all cars. Uconnect 5 is lightning fast, intuitive, easy to use, and did I say fast? Loading maps takes a split second, swiping is smooth as is scrolling, it really is the one to beat right now.
The front seats are excellent, supportive, have ventilation and heating, of which the latter feature carries over to the 2nd-row captain’s chairs, so you can feel both important and have a warm butt. The interior fit and finish are very respectable helped by my tester having the optional Premium Interior Group (suede headliner, forged carbon-fiber accents, and upgraded trim on the instrument panel).
Cool SRT logos emblazoned on the sills and the seatbacks are a nice touch and the fact that it doesn’t have a sunroof, which I have never been a fan of. The second-row captain’s chairs are also comfortable and behind them 2 more seats that can be folded down to provide decent-sized cargo space. This car is one fast hauler, either for kids, dogs, luggage, granny’s wardrobe, or for that matter whatever you want. It’s a pleasure to drive at any speed, feels super stable at higher velocities, and has the power to not only surprise other drivers but also to blast past them.
With three rows of seats, 0- 60 in the mid fours, and the ability to tow 8,700-pounds, the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT is a compelling option if you need lots of space and lots of power. There are some options I could do without, the Rear DVD and Premium Interior Group would be unchecked as would the Trailer Tow Package, which would reduce the out the door price to $66,875, a relative bargain.
2021 Dodge Durango SRT Numbers
BASE PRICE: $62,995
PRICE AS TESTED: $72,560
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, AWD, 6-passenger, 4-door SUV
ENGINE: 6.4L OHV 16-valve V-8
POWER: 475 hp @ 6,000 rpm
TORQUE: 470 ft-lb @ 4,300 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT: 5,347 lbs
0-60 MPH: 4.4 sec
QUARTER MILE: 13.2 sec
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON: 13/19/15 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: 11.5 mpg
PROS: Much nicer interior, improved tech, magnificent V8 sound, seriously quick
CONS: Huge thirst