One of the most important lessons my father ever taught me and my two younger brothers was about self-sacrifice. When it comes to putting others’ needs before your own, my dad is the resident authority. What’s this have to do with cars? Well, why else would he have gotten us a dowdy minivan as our family’s first car?
It used to be that you had to sacrifice style, drivability, and a little bit of personal dignity in order to meet the vehicular needs of your family. True with minivans, but also true with more than a few SUVs. But as the new fire-breathing 2018 Dodge Durango SRT proves, it is possible to have a family hauler that doesn’t sacrifice the basic human desire for excitement behind the wheel.
It’s kind of amazing that it took Dodge eight years to make a true high-performance Durango, but it’s worth the wait. The performance goody list is long—anchored by a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 churning out 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of twist mated to an eight-speed automatic and rear-biased all-wheel-drive system.
This Dodge can handle a corner or two, too. The Durango SRT laps our figure eight in 25.5 seconds at 0.75 g average, and it averaged 0.89 g on the skidpad. Steering is quick, accurate, and talkative, even while nearing the Durango’s performance limits, and the electronically damped shocks eliminate body roll, helping ensure not one of the Dodge’s 475 horses are wasted.
It might be tough to make a case for the Durango SRT to frugal parents such as my dad because of its $64,090 starting and $73,360 as-tested price. But really, it is a performance bargain. The only other true high-zoot seven-passenger SUV on the market is one that this Dodge shares its platform with—the Mercedes-AMG GLS63. The GLS63 is just a few tenths quicker in a straight line and ties the Durango SRT around the figure eight, but it starts at more than $125,000.
My dad has since moved on from his minivan days in favor of high-performance five-seaters, and although his lesson made quite an impact on me, the Durango SRT has me thinking that self-sacrifice doesn’t always have to be so hard.