2021 Dodge Durango Hellcat review: most. Powerful. SUV. Never.
We knew it was only a matter of time before the 2021 Dodge Durango Hellcat became a thing. Stellantis once pushed this ubiquitous supercharged V8 into the engine compartments of its sedans, so it was inevitable to fit that same engine into Dodge’s larger vehicle. Sadly, the Durango Hellcat will only last for one model year (to blame tighter fuel emission regulations). But over the course of this year, this vehicle brings a lot to the table.
With 710 horsepower and 645 pound-feet – three more horsepower than the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk – the Durango Hellcat is the most powerful SUV on the planet. It will sprint to 60 in mind-blowing 3.5 seconds and go up to a top speed of 180 miles per hour. And with all that power, the Durango Hellcat brings new technology to the table along with fresh interior touches. All in all, this is a fantastic SUV for the family that wants to go fast.
A vehicle’s ratings relate only to its own segment and not to the new vehicle market as a whole. To learn more about how Motor1.com rates cars, click here.
“Anonymous” is probably the best way to describe the styling of the Dodge Durango Hellcat. Unless you really know what you’re looking for – Hellcat badges, additional cooling vents, and wheels – the average consumer probably wouldn’t be able to tell the high-performance model from its base sibling, at least not visually. Our tester wears subtle White Knuckle paint (which isn’t as cool as it sounds) and trim-specific 20-inch wheels that are pretty tame, and that’s about it.
That said, anonymity does make sense here. The Durango Hellcat is first and foremost a three-row crossover, which means it needs to blend in with grocery store parking lots and school pickup lines without sounding too outrageous. You can get it with racing stripes if you’re feeling particularly, uh, racy (that’s $ 1,195 or $ 1,295 for the Redline option), but the sleeper look suits the Durango Hellcat well.
The cabin experience isn’t all that different from a normal Durango, either. Dodge is touting a new driver-centric layout, a nicer 10.1-inch touchscreen, and stronger materials for 2021, like leather and carbon fiber. And all Durangos get a more attractive interior styling as part of a 2021 facelift. While there are still some obvious cheap parts, like buttons and indicator switches, that look flimsy for a 75,000 SUV. $.
save over $3,400 on average on MSRP * on a new Dodge durango
For a 710 horsepower vehicle, capable of running on the track, the Durango Hellcat has a surprisingly smooth ride. This suspension absorbs imperfections well, and the plush sport buckets – wearing Laguna leather at $ 1,595, in this case – do a good job of protecting your butt and back from all the bumps in the road. Engine noise penetrates the cabin aggressively, obviously, but road and tire noise is kept to a minimum otherwise.
The Durango also has plenty of room in the cabin. The 39.9 inches of front headroom and 40.3 inches of front legroom are solid, and even with the driver-centric layout, the front compartment feels spacious. The Ford Explorer is better with 40.7 inches of headroom and 43.0 inches of legroom, as is the Chevrolet Tahoe with 41.3 inches of headroom and 41.0 inches of headroom. legs. But none of these alternatives have a 700 horsepower option, so …
Second row passengers also have plenty of room. The Durango’s 39.8 inches of headroom and 38.6 inches of legroom isn’t the best in its class, but there’s still plenty of room to get comfortable. And the third row is acceptable even for adults, with 37.8 inches of headroom and 33.5 inches of legroom. It takes some manipulation from the second row captain’s seat to get to the third row, and there’s a bulky center console between the two buckets, meaning you can’t access the back from there.
Technology and connectivity
Dodge has upgraded the entire Durango lineup to a 10.1-inch touchscreen available for 2021 using the latest Uconnect 5 infotainment display. This setup is standard on the Hellcat model, and it’s a huge upgrade by compared to last year’s 8.4-inch display with Uconnect 4. The overall layout is cleaner, the graphics are sharper, and the new touchscreen responds with the speed of a smartphone.
Integrated navigation is also a huge improvement over what Dodge offered before. The Durango’s maps are almost as good as what you get from Google or Apple – although this setup offers both wireless – with straightforward search functions and easy-to-analyze directional clues.
Those in the second row also have access to the optional rear DVD entertainment system. The $ 1995 option places dual touchscreens on the front seatbacks with Blu-Ray compatibility, wireless headphones, and smartphone mirrors, which should keep everyone in the second row entertained on long trips. And there’s a 19-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system available – a $ 1,085 option.
Performance and handling
First of all – dat engine. This Durango’s 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat V8 produces 710 horsepower and 645 pound-feet, which as we mentioned makes it the most powerful SUV on the planet (albeit fair). All-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission handle it all, helping the Durango to reach 60 km in 3.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 180 miles per hour. And this thing seems as fast as these numbers suggest.
In Sport and Track driving modes, the power delivered is brutal – just like in any other Hellcat model. The second you put your foot on the compressor, the compressor coils up (with an addicting sound), helping to unleash the seven hundred and ten horsepower. Slam the gas pedal completely and the Durango Hellcat will push you and the seven passengers firmly into the seatbacks for an ultra-supercar sprint.
And believe it or not, this massive vehicle can handle it. In November, we took the Durango Hellcat to Carolina Motorsports Park where it demonstrated impressive agility, staying relatively flat and smooth even in the toughest corners – much of the credit goes to the adaptive suspension, which makes a good job of keeping his cool. This is still true in our most recent test. The Durango Hellcat handles even the most aggressive onramps with finesse and agility.
Management remains our only complaint for the Durango Hellcat. Unlike what you get in the Charger, Challenger, and even the TRX, the steering here feels supercharged and too vague with a distinctly centered feel. It can make the Durango sloppy when you really push it. But that’s a small price to pay for such a powerful engine.
Usually we temper this section of any Hellcat or high performance vehicle review. But when it comes to a three-row SUV, whatever horsepower it may or may not have, safety is crucial – and the Dodge Durango Hellcat has plenty of it. But only if you are willing to pay extra.
For $ 2,395, you get adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision alert, and lane departure warning. But our car only has Blind Spot Monitoring and Crossing Detection, which costs $ 495 on its own.
With just 12 mpg in the city, 17 on the highway and 13 combined, the Hot Durango is by far the least efficient vehicle in the entire class. Dodge is behind indirect alternatives like the BMW Alpina XB7 (17 combined) and Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 (16 combined). Unsurprisingly, the Durango is just as inefficient as its cousin, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, which also returns 13 mpg combined.
The Dodge Durango Hellcat starts at $ 80,995, which is reasonable when looking at the short list of alternatives. And the alternatives are not even that close to the competitors. Luxury options like the GLS 63 and Alpina XB7 ask for $ 132,100 and $ 141,000 respectively, and even the two-row Jeep Trackhawk starts at $ 88,445. Our tester comes in at $ 92,040 after options, but it still looks like a screaming deal.
The most expensive add-on is the $ 2,495 Premium Interior Pack, which adds suede headliner and forged carbon fiber accents, and Laguna leather seats cost $ 1,595 more. The rear entertainment setup is $ 1,995, the 19-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system is $ 1,085, and the trailer towing option is $ 1,195. Some less important features increase the price even more, but again, less than $ 100,000 for the world’s most powerful SUV doesn’t sound so bad.