There’s nothing quite like the sound of a big V8 engine. Better enjoy it while you still can as the auto industry shifts to electrification. But for the time being, you can still get a big, 3-row SUV with the thumping heart of a lion. So how does the Durango SRT 392 fare as a family hauler?
Engine – What an engine this SUV has. It is a 6.4L naturally aspirated Hemi V8 that produces 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque (354 kW & 637 Nm). Although the Durango SRT tips the scales at 2,439 kg (5,378 lbs), the engine allows this heavy SUV to blast out of corners like a bullet. There’s power everywhere in the rpm range which is accompanied by the rumble of the V8 engine. This Durango even has launch control. When’s the last time you saw that in a 3-row SUV? Dodge claims a quick 4.7 second sprint to 60 mph from a stop. With this much power, it is very easy to go from legal to illegal speeds in a blink of an eye. Better yet, with this engine under the hood, the Durango SRT 392 can tow up to 8,700 lbs.
Fuel Economy – Of course, there’s a huge price to pay for all this grunt. This isn’t what you’d call a “frugal SUV”. It’s very much the opposite. But if you’re already thinking about buying this SUV then the fuel economy is probably not too high up on your list of essentials. In case you’re wondering, it is officially rated for 18.3 L/100km (12.8 MPG) in a city and 12.2 L/100km (19.3 MPG) on a highway. During my time with the SUV, I averaged closer to 19 L/100km (12.4 MPG) because, well… I hope you get a chance to hear it. On highways it is better because it has cylinder deactivation which allows it to run on 4-cylinder under light throttle applications. But the power and noise of the V8 is so intoxicating.
Transmission – Like many other Dodge products, the Durango SRT is paired with a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission. In Street mode, the transmission shifts are smooth and nearly imperceivable. Switch to Track mode and the shifts become much more ferocious but also faster. The steering wheel mounted shift buttons are quick to react in this mode.
Braking – To stop this heavy and fast SUV are Brembo front and rear calipers with 2-piece rotors, on the front at least. These brakes are powerful but not so powerful that they’ll rip your face off when you’re just poodling around town. The brake pedal is firm and still easy to modulate for smooth stops. These are very well calibrated brakes.
Handling – For such a big SUV, the Dodge Durango SRT 392 does a good job of hiding its weight. The adaptive suspension is excellent at keeping unwanted body motions in check when tossing the SUV through corners. Steering is equally impressive for an SUV of this size and weight. It is responsive and has some decent feedback as to what the Pirelli P-Zero summer tires are doing. Those tires were my only worry as the temperatures hovered around the 4 to 7 degree celsius mark during my week with the Durango. But they still provided enough grip in dry and wet conditions. One thing to note, like the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, this Durango SRT also likes to follow the crown of the road. Though, this characteristic is not as pronounced as how it was in the Charger Hellcat when I drove it.
The Dodge Durango SRT 392 has a few different drive modes to choose from. Track, Sport, Auto/Street, Snow, Tow/Haul, Eco, and Custom. I’m not too sure if the Eco mode really helps out all that much with fuel economy but it’s there if you want to use it. As the name suggests, the Custom mode allows you to set your personal preferences. Transmission shifts, AWD torque bias, stability control, steering effort and other parameters can be set to your liking.
Ride Comfort – With this version of the Dodge Durango being a sporty focused SUV, the ride quality is undoubtedly firmer than other trim levels of the Durango such as the Citadel. Having said that, with the adaptive dampers set in Street mode, it’s not completely unbearable. You’d be fine to take a long family trip without the kids complaining of the jiggly ride. They will complain, however, if the suspension is in Track mode. It is much too firm for street use.
Interior Space – The interior of the Dodge Durango is spacious but there are a few oddities. Passenger volume in the front seats is plentiful even if you’re as tall as myself at 6’4”. The second row seats have a bit less legroom than some other 3-row SUVs. Making things worse, the 2nd row captain’s chairs cannot slide forwards or backwards, they can just recline. Bench seats are available as well. The 3rd row is usually only reserved for little kids but in the Durango, adults can comfortably sit there. I have just enough headroom and legroom in that third row. Getting into those back seats is also easy. Just pull the lever that’s on the side of the 2nd row and then tug on the red strap behind the seat to tilt it forward.
The trunk has a generous amount of space. With all rows of seats up, it has 487 L (17.2 cu-ft) of space. With the 2nd row seats folded, there is 1,226 L (43.3 cu-ft) of space and with all rows folded, there is 2,410 L (85.1 cu-ft) of cargo space.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – The sound of the big V8 engine is always audible. Whether you’re in gridlock traffic or flooring it at a race track, it’s always there and it’s an intoxicating sound. On highways when the engine is not shouting, tire noise is the loudest unwanted thing that you’ll hear. As for vibrations, when the engine is running on 4-cylinders, it shakes the whole car as it struggles to pull the weight of the Durango. But as soon as all 8-cylinders fire up with a slight application of throttle, the engine is smooth again and you don’t feel the vibrations.
Odds and Ends
Pricing – The 2022 Dodge Durango SRT 392 starts at $85,840 CAD ($71,890 USD) including destination. This particular demo vehicle had a few goodies added on and the price was $98,140 CAD ($84,390 USD). But to help things out a bit, Dodge is providing about $10,000 CAD in discounts at the time of writing this review. Pricing for the 2023 model year has not been announced at the time of writing either.
Gadgets – For the almost 6-figure price tag, the Dodge Durango SRT 392 has every feature that a family would want and need. Some of these include heated & ventilated front seats, heated 2nd row seats, heated steering wheel, sunroof, power liftgate, remote start, satellite navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, three zone automatic climate control, wireless phone charging, and a plethora of USB ports to name a few.
The infotainment system is the latest Uconnect 5 system and it is displayed on a 10.1” touchscreen. I have had a few instances where the infotainment lost connection to my phone while using wireless Android Auto but beyond that, the native navigation system works well, the graphics are crisp, and it is fairly intuitive to use.
Interior Design – For the most part, the interior cabin of this SRT Durango 392 is similar to other trim levels. The only major differences are the thicker steering wheel, the red seats with bigger bolsters, and the forged carbon fiber trim. Most of the important controls such as climate, SRT controls, launch control, trail brake gain, and so on, are all physical controls with other functions being embedded into the infotainment system such as the 3rd row headrest folding mechanism. I also like the illuminated SRT logo on the steering wheel, although for some, it may be a bit too flashy.
Exterior Design – Not only is this trim of the Durango louder to let others know that it’s special but it also receives hood vents, SRT and 392 badges, bright red brake calipers, and this demo car also has the optional black & red stripes down the middle. The Durango received a slight front bumper design refresh for the 2021 model year along with the new, slimmer headlight design.
Safety – The Durango SRT 392 comes equipped with every safety and driver aid that is available on this model. These include automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with lane keep, adaptive cruise control, blind spot sensors, parking sensors, and rear cross traffic alert. The Durango performed well in most IIHS crash tests but it only received a marginal rating for the small-overlap front driver’s side test.
Warranty – The 2022 Dodge Durango SRT 392 is protected by a 3 year / 60,000 km new vehicle warranty and a 5 year / 100,000 km powertrain warranty. Anti-corrosion warranty is also 5 years but 160,000 km, whichever comes first. For more Canadian warranty information, click here. For USA warranty, click here.
Conclusion – So as a practical family hauler, there are better 3-row SUVs out there. The Kia Telluride and the Honda Pilot immediately come to mind. But as something to have some fun with and in making you the coolest parent when you’re picking up your kids from school, the Dodge Durango SRT 392 is hard to beat. Better yet, for 2023, the Hellcat returns but if you don’t want to pay the six figure price tag of it, this 392 is just the right blend of 3-row family utility and lunacy.
Thank you to Dodge Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Dodge.ca