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Tom Crosby: Dodge Durango SRT 392 disguised as SUV

Tom Crosby

The high-powered new 2018 Dodge Durango SRT 392 is a muscle car masquerading as a Sport Utility Vehicle.

With three rows seating seven, a sleek but modest side profile, ample cargo space with or without seats folded, an optional rear entertainment package, it mirrors other non-boxy SUVs.

However, it is perhaps the most powerful SUV on the planet with towing chops to lug 8,700 pounds, a V-8 Hemi engine that churns out 475 horsepower and a menacing growl that lets everyone know you are in the neighborhood.

With DNA from Dodge’s Street and Performance Technology, our test-drive all-wheel drive SRT 392 used a 6.4-liter engine with a multi-displacement system (MDS) that reduces eight cylinders to four at steady highway speeds to reduce gas consumption.

That resulted in 14.9 miles per gallon in mixed city/highway driving.

But those fat wallets will ignore gas prices while loving a versatile vehicle with seven selectable drive modes for track, street, sport, snow, tow, valet and eco.

It comfortably holds four adults in leather-trimmed bucket seats in the first two rows and three small kids on the easily accessed third row bench seat.

Walk around the sleekly shaped SRT and clues indicate hidden power with a slim hood scoop, cold air intakes and performance front fascia. Large dual black-tipped rear exhausts are another clue.

The 20-inch low-gloss black wheels show a flash of red, indicating Brembo brakes with industry-respected stopping power.

Our test-drive added $7,560 for five options that included cutting edge safety features, a rear entertainment center, tow package, interior racing appearance and five-spoke wheels.

As befits its power, handling is precise and controlled with the ride comfortable with high performance and active damping suspension when needed.

The eight-speed automatic transmission mates well with power demands with wheel-mounted paddles giving full exercise for measurable speed on the dashboard gauge in racetrack drive mode.

The interior eschews wood trim and mixes stitched leather and black materials with accents of chrome and carbon fiber. Knick-spaces are plentiful, Uconnect hooks up Internet apps, and voice recognition is good for navigational input but speed limits on dashboard maps were often inaccurate.

Past government crash tests have earned Durango models four out of five stars overall. Visors are extendable. There is no spare tire as the Pirelli all-season tires are run-flat – good for 50 miles after a puncture.

LIKES: Power, seats seven, safety features, handling, towing muscle.

DISLIKES: Inaccurate speed limits on maps, needs options, guzzles gas.

BOTTOM LINE: Racetrack alone or city streets with family aboard: Good for both.

FACT FILE

DODGE DURANGO SRT 392

Base price w/destination fee: $64,090 ($71,670 as tested).

Curb weight: 5,510 lbs.

Wheelbase: 119.8 inches.

Length: 201.2 inches.

Width: 77.1 inches.

Engine spec: 6.4-liter, V-8, SRT Hemi.

Horsepower: 475-hp at 6,000 rpm.

Torque:  470 lb.-ft. at 4,300 rpm.

Transmissio: 8-speed automatic w/manual  paddles.

EPA rating: 13 mpg city and 19 mpg highway.

Range: gallon tank, regular.

Performance: 0-60 in just over 4 seconds.

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.

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