First Look Dodge Durango 2018 SRT

Dodge has just unveiled its fastest ever full-size SUV with the launch of the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT ahead of the Chicago Auto Show.

Although the model doesn’t feature the brand’s 707 hp Hellcat engine, it does utilize a 475 hp, 392 cubic-inch Hemi V8 delivering 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. That provides enough grunt to propel the Durango SRT from 0-60 mph (96 km/h) in a brisk 4.4 seconds and down the quarter mile in just 12.9 seconds.

Beyond its V8, the SUV includes a number of impressive features. For starters, it includes a new cold-air intake which helps feed the engine with cool air no matter the driving scenario. Additionally, the vehicle’s TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission has been specially calibrated for use in the Durango SRT and when determining the appropriate shift map, takes into account variables such as tire slip, engine torque gradients and longitudinal and lateral acceleration.

The Durango SRT also gets a set of high performance Brembo brakes to help keep the speed in check, a stiffer suspension with computer-controlled adaptive dampers to better blend ride comfort and handling, deep bucket seats (even in the back rows) to hold you in place in the turns, and a beefy T-bar shifter for its 8-speed automatic transmission because it just feels right.

A new digital instrument cluster includes a 180 mph speedometer, although Dodge has not yet confirmed the Durango SRT’s top speed. The price hasn’t been announced, either, but the similarly-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT starts at around $68,000, so figure on the Durango SRT being in that range when it hits showrooms late this year.

Dodge chief Tim Kuniskis calls it the most powerful and fastest three-row vehicle, though Mercedes and the 577-hp AMG GLS63 might have something to say about that. The 392-cubic-inch Hemi V-8 engine under the Durango SRT’s hood generates 475 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 470 lb-ft of torque at 4,300 rpm, creating a family vehicle that will go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and through the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds, according to National Hot Rod Association certification. That would leave competitors such as the Chevrolet Tahoe in its dust.

For all those who have spent the past few years questioning what Dodge stands for, the answer is power and performance. You can debate whether a three-row family SUV out since 2014 needed SRT treatment, but you will get no sympathy from Kuniskis. After all, he’s the man behind the Hellcats and the coming Demon to be unveiled ahead of the New York auto show in April.