What it is: Dodge is not being too secretive with their formula to gain consumer interest. Make your vehicle look angrier than the competitors in your class and give it more power. It turns out people like aggressively styled and fast cars! Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Dodge’s parent company, took the 6.4-liter V8 that it originally developed for their sports cars and decided to start putting it in everything. Chrysler 300? Sure. Jeep Grand Cherokee? Why not. Fiat 500? OK, maybe not that one. But I can dream.
The massive V8 generates 475 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, which is a significant step up from the 5.7-liter HEMI’s 360 horsepower. But Dodge didn’t stop at just throwing in more power; they did a really good job making the 392 an all-around package. You get 15-inch Brembo front brakes, SRT performance control pages in the infotainment system, an ultra aggressive exterior appearance package, plus a high-end interior. There is seating for seven and you can tow 8,700 pounds. My test model came with the option black 20-inch wheels ($595) and the technology group ($2,495), which adds adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection with lane departure warning, etc.
When you stomp on the throttle, it’s really remarkable how light-on-its-toes the Durango feels. The automatic transmission has eight gears, and is ready to drop four gears to give you the most acceleration. A Bilstein active-damping suspension really delivers power in the corners and reinforces that this is more than a straight line rocket. It really delivers a near sports car experience, but in a hulking three-row SUV. With the gaping hood scoop and aggressive front end, you’ll be sure to scare taxis into a slower lane while they drive 57 mph in the fast lane.
MPG: 15 combined/13 city/19 highway (Note: good luck)
Price: $62,995 base price. $72,265 as-tested.
Upsides: What a blast. A complete product that is effectively a roller coaster whenever you want it.
Downsides: The EPA should probably rate this car in feet per gallon.
Wrap-up: Short of the gas mileage, this is the vehicle you want in a zombie apocalypse. All of the power you could ever want, room for seven passengers, and you can pull almost 10,000 pounds. It’s basically right out of the Mad Max movies. When purely sticker-price shopping, it’s hard to justify the $20,000 price increase over the R/T model with the 5.7-liter HEMI, but the SRT 392 is really the complete package. You can drive it off the lot and head directly to the race track. It turns heads and it’s got the goods to back up the looks. If you don’t need the third row, Jeep does sell a Grand Cherokee version, but it surprisingly starts about $5,000 more than the Durango, so no cost savings there.