2018 Dodge Durango SRT first drive review: Challenger's attitude Page 3


A 3-Row Pole Sitter

The Durango SRT is easily into the triple digits by the end of the roughly third-of-a-mile straight and is still accelerating hard by the time the 500-foot cone pops up. Call on the huge Brembo brakes and it's easy to scrub that speed off before making a sharp, almost-90-degree left onto what's officially the MotoGP circuit—everything up until this point has been the same as the F1 course. 

It's at this point that the loose steering starts to make good. Turn in is sharp for such a large vehicle—the Durango SRT can change directions rapidly, which is good on such a tight bend that requires drivers to bleed so much speed. Hit turn 9 correctly, and you'll feel through the steering the rumble strips that signal the inside of the turn.

The next sequence is the start to the main straight. A gentle right—turn 8—encourages drivers to carry speed out of turn 9, while turn 6 punishes such foolish exuberance with another near-90-degree bend. The 6.4-liter V-8 and the super-quick shifts of the 8-speed automatic become an enemy here, as you almost always end up entering the turn with too much speed and blowing past the apex—I did. A gentle, fast right—turn 5—is the entrance to the oval between Indy 1 and 2. And then, it's my favorite section of track.

Turns 4 and 3 are deeply entertaining late apex bends that require a very precise line to negotiate properly. The driver is constantly fighting the Durango's weight, trying to maintain speed while purposefully running wide. Turn in hard and the steering and suspension tuning do a great impression of a smaller vehicle, as the Durango SRT does exactly what you ask of it (and well).

2018 Dodge Durango SRT

2018 Dodge Durango SRT

Enlarge Photo
2018 Dodge Durango SRT

2018 Dodge Durango SRT

Enlarge Photo
2018 Dodge Durango SRT

2018 Dodge Durango SRT

Enlarge Photo

Despite its size, this is an easy vehicle to place on the road, too—sightlines are key and Dodge's designers did a fine job of not limiting the driver's visibility. This sequence is also a reminder of how good the seats and steering are, helping the driver stay in place without sacrificing comfort. Push through to the innocuous right at turn 2, and one of the most beautiful sights in motorsports opens up—the front straight at Indy is breathtaking. 

By this point, you've forgotten that you're behind the wheel of a three-row, six-passenger crossover SUV. The Durango SRT barely qualifies as such a thing—it's the heart and soul of a Charger, scaled up into something bigger, stronger, and more capable. It's the family man's Challenger, a more versatile and affordable—$64,090 (including $1,095 in destination charges) to the Jeep's $67,990—take on the Grand Cherokee, and with just enough of the Viper's uncompromising character that it earns its seat at the SRT dinner table. Or, in this case, at the race track.

Dodge provided Internet Brands Automotive lodging to help bring you this firsthand report.


 
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