2018 Dodge Durango SRT Quick Spin
I love big, overpowered SUVs. Except for Mercedes-AMG, no one makes fast wagons anymore. Models like the BMW X5 M and the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S fill that niche, combining a powerful engine with copious amounts of room for cargo and passengers. These SUVs are too porky to handle well on a track and too big and wide to properly tackle a curvy backroad. But with a soft suspension and a 0-60 mph time of less than 5 seconds, they are perfect for cruising city streets and pulling away from unsuspecting Ford Mustangs and Chevy Camaros. That makes the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT perfect for the Woodward Dream Cruise.
Dream Cruise is an annual car meet along Woodward Avenue, just northwest of Detroit. While literally any motorized vehicle is welcome, the street is mostly filled with American cars from the height of the domestic auto industry. For a late 20-something like myself, watching and partaking in the Dream Cruise fills me with a sense of nostalgia for a time and place that never existed for me, just like watching John Wayne in anything from “Stagecoach” to “True Grit” makes you long for horseback rides in the Old West. The Durango SRT, with a pushrod Hemi V8, 392 cubic-inch badging on the fenders and muscular styling, enhances the experience.
Sure, it’s not nearly as cool as Mopar stalwarts like the 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner or the 1970 Dodge Daytona, but it’s filled with the same sense of purpose. Dip into the throttle and listen to that eight-cylinder chorus erupt with a sound that’s wholly unique. Not even the pushrod V8s from GM snarl and crack like this 6.4-liter Hemi. It’s the same sort of sound you’ll hear from countless Dodge, Chrysler and Plymouth products during Dream Cruise. You don’t need to go fast to get the full understanding of the Durango SRT’s purpose.
Ignore the SRT-tuned suspension and heavy steering. What you really want to do is open the SRT menu and adjust the custom settings. Set the engine and transmission in track mode and put everything else in the street setting. You’ll get all the available power and straight-line performance combined with a nice, cushy ride.
We’re not sure what FCA has planned for the future. While the industry moves toward electrification and autonomous ride-sharing vehicles, the automaker is pouring money into vehicles like the Durango SRT, the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon and the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. Future prospects look hazy. Still, stab the go pedal in any SRT product and you’ll forget about government regulations and global warming, even if it’s just for a few seconds. Go drive Woodward Avenue on any given weekend and remind yourself that the excitement to own and drive a car is far from dead.