2018 Dodge Durango SRT: The family hauler gets meaner

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The Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee share different versions of the same architecture. Yet, while the Jeep has offered a high-performance SRT model for two generations, the Durango never has. Now we have it. Just ahead of the Chicago Auto Show, Dodge pulled the wraps off the 2018 Durango SRT, and it's exactly what enthusiasts have been waiting for.

Under the hood Dodge has shoved its naturally aspirated 6.4-liter (392 cubic-inch) Hemi V-8 producing 475 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. All that twist is sent to all four wheels through an all-wheel-drive system via an 8-speed automatic transmission.

ALSO SEE: How the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon lost 232 pounds

Performance is stout for an SUV that weighs 5,510 pounds. Dodge quotes a 0-60 mph time of 4.4 seconds, and we are told it'll run the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds. That power also gives it the highest tow rating of any Durango in the lineup at 8,600 pounds as measured by J2807 standards. That even beats the Chevrolet Tahoe's rating of 8.400 pounds. Not bad considering the Tahoe is a full-size body-on-frame vehicle and the Durango is a midsize crossover with a unibody structure.

It sounds loud and proud because the exhaust was designed to mimic that of the 392 Charger with 2 3/4-inch metal pipes.

2018 Dodge Durango SRT

2018 Dodge Durango SRT

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Cooling has been enhanced with air extraction vents on the hood, large, a gaping central air intake in the front bumper, and new air intakes above the fog lights. The intake above the driver's side fog light directs air up through the fender and into the airbox. This intake alone decreases engine air temperature by 18 degrees.

The Durango's already an aggressive looking SUV, and those cooling measures make it look even meaner. But Dodge's designers went a few steps further. The grille and 20-inch wheels are blacked out, as is the trim, and there are unique sill extensions for some attitude. Dodge added an extra air inlet in the bumper between the upper and lower grilles, as well as LED fog lights. In back, there's a unique bumper with free-hanging exhaust outlets.

The suspension has been beefed up over the standard Durango with stiffer bushings, (16 percent), higher spring rates (3 percent front, 16 percent in the rear), an 18-percent stiffer rear sway bar, and electronically adjustable dampers. The bigger engine actually helps the weight balance, bringing it closer to 50/50 at 48/52 percent.

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