Street-searing Hemi V-8s belong beneath the lumpy hoods of hot-rod Dodge Challengers, preferably in lime green.
Heck, with a couple of good smoky launches, those brute coupes can make the Earth spin a little faster, shortening our workdays.
Burn that rubber, I say, and keep the beer cold.
So, who would wrap that magical motor in a near three-ton, three-row SUV – with all-wheel-drive, no less?
I mean, what do you want: some sort of all-American Bad-Dad, twisted-truck SUV?
Apparently, raucous and rowdy Dodge does. The Dodge Boys took one of their meanest Hemis and dropped it into their full-size SUV, creating the 2019 Durango SRT 392.
It makes absolutely no sense in all the right ways.
The imposing maroon SRT 392 I had recently arrived with a near-$80,000 window sticker and a voracious 13-mile-per-gallon appetite for fuel. Ouch.
Think of it as a backyard dragon on a really thick chain.
My SRT 392 made no secret of its evil intent. (SRT stands for Street and Racing Technology, incidentally, the high-performance group at Fiat Chrysler, while 392 is roughly the size of the Durango’s engine in cubic inches. It also evokes images of the legendary 392 Hemi from the ‘60s.)
The belligerent Durango scowled at the world through angry headlamps shoved hard against a horizontal blacked-out grille.
Its powerful-looking hood featured a large, graceful scoop in the center, flanked by aggressive heat exhaust-vents on either side.
Just to underscore the big SUV’s true mission, bold silver racing stripes – a $1,200 option -- flowed down the middle of the hood, top and rear gate, giving the Durango an odd sort of muscle-shirt feel.
Although the sides looked slightly less edgy, they fit the Durango’s polished back-alley image. Sculpted and pulled tightly by character lines, the Durango dares you to call it a soccer-bus. I mean, dual four-inch diameter exhaust pipes protrude from the rear of this thing -- ready, I guess, to clear the street of squirrels and excess debris.
Unlike most SUVs, the SRT didn’t flash some high-water stance. Instead, it clung to steamroller 295/45 tires on dark gray, multi-spoke 20-inch wheels.
All of this would just be puffery, of course, if the Durango weren’t packing serious, credible heat – a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 with 475-horsepower and a wonderfully meaty power curve.
Tap the accelerator lightly and the front fenders on the 5,400-pound, all-wheel-drive Durango rise as it snarls through intersections.
Stay on the pedal hard and the 392 bellows loud and rich, blasting to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, according to Car and Driver – as fast as many modern muscle cars.
In fact, go ahead and dump your chiropractor. The SRT Durango will keep your neck and back plenty loose.
A well-sorted eight-speed automatic, for instance, always keeps the healthy Hemi on a slight boil, ready to stomp and shout.
Built on a platform shared with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the hefty Durango refuses to act fully-grown, turning into corners pretty crisply with moderate body lean.
However – and this probably won’t surprise you -- the ride was quite firm, though not much worse than a lot of lesser full-sized SUVs.
Likewise, the steering was kind of thick, but possessed a bit of road-feel in case you want to make a quick run through some gymkhana cones on your way home.
Don’t lose sight of all that capability, though, when you climb inside.
While appropriately distinctive and comfortable, the black interior in my Durango SRT didn’t look exactly luxurious – despite the truck’s lofty price.
Plastic clung to most surfaces, including the SRT’s flat and broad upper dashboard, which rolled down to the glove compartment and around a large center-stack.
The slightly old-school stack was dominated by an 8.4-inch display screen that could be used to fine-tune and customize the Durango’s engine and suspension.
Also buried in there somewhere were Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capabilities, as well as safety systems such as adaptive cruise control, collision warning and lane-departure warning.
Find outr, the black leather seats in the Durango looked reasonably high end with suede bolsters and centers and white stitching on the bolsters.
Although a few inches smaller than the solid-citizen Chevy Tahoe, the six-passenger Durango offered good leg- and headroom in the second row and reasonable space in the third row for most adults.
It also was loaded with options, including a technology group with the safety systems ($2,395); rear DVD entertainment center ($1,995); trailer-tow group ($1,195); premium interior group with carbon-fiber accents ($2,495); and the silver racing-stripes ($1,195).
OK, don’t ask me to make sense of a full-size SUV wearing silver racing stripes. But I figure you can be as blustery as you like if you can back it up – and the Durango SRT does, with a knockout, tooth-loosening punch.
2019 Dodge Durango SRT 392
- What I liked most: The heavy-hitting, ground-pounding 6.4-liter V-8 under the Durango’s hood, a worthy successor to the old Elephant Motor Hemis.
- What I would change: Could we get a more modern dashboard and a bit less plastic inside?
- MSRP: Base price, $62,995; as equipped, $79,530.
- Fuel economy: Rated at 13 miles per gallon in the city, 19 on the highway and 15 mpg combined with filler on the left.
- Official color: Octane Red.
- Odometer reading when tested: 3,574 miles.
- Weight: 5,369 pounds.
- Length-width-height: 201.2 inches long/77.1 inches wide/71.9 inches tall.
- Fuel-tank capacity: 24.6 gallons.
- Towing capacity: Up to 8,700 pounds.
- Spare tire: Temporary compact.
- 2019 Dodge Durango SRT 392 in a few words: The only domestic three-row high-performance SUV – and it lives up to that distinction.
- Warranty: Three-year, 36,000-mile overall warranty and five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain protection.
- Final assembly location: Detroit
- Manufacturer’s website:
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- Up next: 2019 Mazda3