Fiat Chrysler's Street and Racing Technology (SRT) performance division has a black belt in cramming a whole lot of power into everything it touches. You're no doubt familiar with its ridiculous creations like the 707-horsepower Dodge Challenger and Charger Hellcats, 797-horsepower Challenger Redeye and wheelie-popping, 840-horsepower Demon.
But SRT isn't just about fast coupes and sedans. While not quite as power-packed as those supercharged hellions, the 2019 Dodge Durango SRT 392 is an outrageous and entertaining creation in its own right -- especially when considering its sizable SUV footprint.
The outrageous package starts with a 6.4-liter Hemi V8, which churns out 475 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque under the hood of the Durango. No, it's not the supercharged Hellcat engine, but this naturally aspirated V8 still gets the 5,510-pound, all-wheel-drive Durango to 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds, and down the quarter-mile in a National Hot Rod Association-certified 12.9 seconds. Did I mention this thing can also tow 8,700 pounds?
The acceleration numbers make the Durango SRT the quickest three-row SUV sold in America. It's fast by any standard, and a riot to blast around town in, or down the expressway with Sport mode active. Throttle response is immediate, accompanied by ear-pleasing V8 rumbles emanating from the performance exhaust.
Power is always available -- stomp the throttle and you'll pin passengers to their seatbacks until you hit the 6,400-rpm redline. The Durango's eight-speed automatic transmission has a specific calibration for SRT duty, and it offers rev-matching under downshifting. You can swap gears yourself by way of steering-wheel-mounted paddles, but shift response is lackluster and not very involving. Letting the gearbox do its own thing provides the best results.
What's the downside to the muscular drivetrain? Fuel economy ratings, of course. The EPA estimates the 2019 Durango SRT will return 13 miles per gallon city and 19 mpg highway. Based on my week with the car, achieving those figures requires a delicate right foot. The allure of the power and ear-pleasing noises made me observe a disappointing (but not shocking) 11.7 mpg combined.
As impressive as the SRT-tuned Durango is in a straight line, it's not too shabby while cornering, either. The all-wheel-drive system has SRT fingerprints all over the tuning, resulting in 65 percent of the available torque going to the rear wheels in Sport mode, and up to 70 percent heading rearward in Track. An electronic limited-slip differential routes power accordingly across the back axle to the wheel with the most grip.
Suspension upgrades include Bilstein adaptive dampers, stiffer springs and bushings, a thicker rear antiroll bar and 20-inch black wheels wrapped in Pirelli Scorpion Verde all-season tires. Customers looking for stickier rubber can option out a set of P-Zero summer shoes. Extra stopping muscle comes from larger Brembo brakes with six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers.
A dip into the Durango's Track mode proves too stiff and high-strung for street use, leaving Sport mode as the sweet spot for spirited runs on back roads. The steering is weighty and fairly responsive, with the suspension keeping body movements from being clumsy, yet still possessing some give to smooth out small impacts. You'll never mistake the big Durango SRT for a corner carver, but considering its heft and higher center of gravity, it gets around corners rather well.
Most of my Durango driving happens in the Street setting for a nice, compliant ride over the battered Michigan roads, complemented by lighter steering. Drivetrain performance is also more relaxed in Street mode, though dig into the throttle and you'll still be able to blast off from stoplights with ease.
To visually set itself apart from run-of-the-mill Durangos, in addition to the aforementioned wheels, the SRT gets a different front fascia with a mesh grille inserts, foglights, a functional hood duct, integrated wheel flares, larger rocker panels and "392" fender badges. The changes do give the big Dodge a meaner look.
Heading inside, heavily bolstered SRT front seats sport suede inserts, and keep passengers comfortable and in place over the long haul. A flat-bottom steering wheel, suede headliner and 180-mph speedometer complete the SRT-specific alterations. On my test car, things are jazzed up some more with an optional leather-wrapped dashboard, carbon-fiber trim and red seat belts.
The rest of the cabin carries over from other Durangos, meaning it's built from decent materials and is practical for big families. Passenger space in all rows is adequate, and the third row is even suitable to accommodate average-size adults. Cargo room ranges from 17.2 cubic-feet behind the rearmost seats and grows to 85.1 with both the second and third rows folded flat. Hauling the bounty from almost any shopping trip shouldn't be a problem.
Taking care of infotainment is Fiat-Chrysler's well-sorted Uconnect system, with a vibrant and responsive 8.4-inch touchscreen. Navigation, a 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, satellite radio and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all packed into my tester. Since it's an SRT, Uconnect also features performance pages allowing for things like timing acceleration runs and monitoring G-forces.
To keep kids in back occupied, there's an optional dual-screen Blu-ray DVD entertainment system. And no phone or tablet should ever go dead in the Durango, thanks to five USB ports, three 12-volt outlets and a 115-volt, three-prong plug all available inside.
For safety, SRT Durangos come standard with a backup camera with so-so image quality, and front and rear parking sensors. Advanced features like adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist are available optionally.
When building my ideal hot-rod Durango, I would begin with a White Knuckle paint job, and splurge for the $2,495 SRT Interior Appearance Group because I like the more premium appearance of the leather-wrapped dashboard and slick carbon-fiber trim. Since blind-spot monitoring is a must-have safety feature for me, I need to add the Technology Group that tacks on another $2,495. All in, my Durango SRT's bottom line comes to $69,380, including $1,395 for destination. The more heavily optioned Octane Red example pictured here punches in at $76,445.
The 2019 Dodge Durango SRT 392 just may be the most practical creation to wear an SRT badge to date. It's got three rows of seats, can haul and tow, and is comfortable enough to be driven daily. On the other hand, it's capable of laying down acceleration times that will embarrass bona fide sports cars.
Really, there's nothing else quite like the Durango SRT, considering how much sport and utility it offers. With a base price of $64,390, it's not exactly cheap, but the baddest Durango of them all could be ideal for those with a big family, big toys and a big need for speed.