UPDATE: Dodge announced official pricing on July 6, with which this story has been updated. The 2018 Dodge Durango SRT will start at $64,090 including $1,095 destination.

From supercars to subcompacts, there’s always a market for muscle, exploiting the desire of potential buyers to have the hottest thing in its class. That’s the charter of a corporate go-fast shop like Chrysler’s SRT (Street and Racing Technology) group, and it’s the philosophical underpinning of the hottest Dodge Durango ever.

Previewed as the Shaker Concept at last November’s SEMA show, the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT makes the transition to production reality with its public debut at the Chicago Auto Show. It’s due to reach showrooms early next fall, whereupon it will be “America’s most powerful and fastest three-row SUV”—this according to Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger car brands at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles North America.

“Fastest three-row SUV” may seem like an asterisk, limiting the scope of the Durango’s performance claim, but it’s there to distinguish the SRT Durango from the SRT Jeep Grand Cherokee, which has only two rows. And like that muscular Jeep, the hot rod Durango is expected to have acceleration that’s impressive by any standard: 4.4 seconds 0-to-60 mph, 12.9 seconds in the quarter-mile. For perspective, that’s only about a half-second behind a Corvette. Pretty brisk for a vehicle weighing more than 2.5 tons.

Hemi power

Urgency is supplied by the same powertrain that propels the SRT Grand Cherokee—a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 sending 475 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. A new SRT exhaust system announces the Hemi’s presence with an unmistakable basso profundo, a la Dodge Challenger SRT.

The claims extend beyond 0-to-zoom. In addition to most powerful and fastest, SRT also characterizes the super Durango as “most capable.” Agility falls under that general heading, and the chassis engineers have retuned the suspension to include active damping (programmable in seven different modes, ranging from Eco to Track); stiffer springs, a heavier rear antiroll bar, and sticky 295/45 ZR tires (Pirelli P-Zero performance rubber optional) on 20x10-inch wheels.

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Braking performance promises to be commensurate with thrust with big vented rotors at all four corners, squeezed by Brembo calipers, six pistons front, four rear. Also, Dodge lists max towing as 8,600 pounds, calling it best in class, although Ford claims 9,200 pounds for the current Expedition, with a higher limit to come in the 2018 model.

SRT style

Drawing cues from the SRT Challenger, the design team gave the mega Durango a wide, functional hood scoop; deeper front splitter; flared fenders sheltering its widened track; and an SRT rear fascia culminating in a pair of 4-inch nickel chrome exhaust tips.

Interior features include three rows of seats, buckets front and middle, with the option of Laguna leather; heated and ventilated first and second row seats; splashes of carbon fiber trim; suede-trimmed headliner and A-pillars; a revised instrument panel with SRT Performance Pages (for tracking performance data) and 180-mph speedometer; and paddle shifters for the 8-speed Torqueflite automatic.

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Also, as with other Durango models, FCA has dropped the problem-plagued rotary shift knob in favor of a conventional T-handle shifter.

As noted above, the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT is set to hit showrooms in the fourth quarter of 2017 with a starting price of $64,090 including $1,095 destination.

First-Look Video

 

This story was originally published February 7, 2017, as part of our coverage of the 2017 Chicago Auto Show.


 

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