(Last) Weekly Roundup: Act Fast If You Want The Big D Edition

Well, that escalated quickly. This past Tuesday morning I drove two hilariously expensive variants of the Dodge Durango — the 475-horsepower, 6.4-liter SRT and 710-horsepower, 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat — around Carolina Motorsports Park. The SRT is about sixty-four grand, while the Hellcat starts at eighty. These are fully-equipped, viciously quick unibody SUVs with optional features like the same “forged carbon” interior pieces one would find in a well-equipped Lamborghini Huracan. I can’t discuss the Hellcat’s driving characteristics yet, but the “plain” SRT would give a lot of smallbore club racers a run for their money around a track, doubly so if you had real tires on the thing instead of high-load-rated sport-utility rubber on there.

Just fifteen years ago, the “D”, as marque enthusiasts call it, was nothing more than a parts-bin special, basically a Dakota pickup with minivan taillights. Now it’s a credible unibody alternative to hyper-speed German speedsters from AMG and BMW M, loaded throughout with soft-touch interior materials, widescreen infotainment, and large-pizza-sized brake rotors. The Hellcat, in particular, is capable of easily slaying the BMW X5M at a $25,000 discount.

As a party trick, the biggest D really satisfies. Unfortunately, the party won’t last for long.

The Durango Hellcat will only be made for six months. The reason? Evaporative emissions regulations. It’s not impossible to make the 6.2-liter engine meet the requirements, but it’s not worth doing in the Durango, which is on borrowed time anyway. Next week I’ll tell you if it’s worth spending the money in order of this rare and hugely powerful vehicle — but I’ll bet you already know if it’s right for you.

Perhaps the real question here should be: What’s the point of these new evaporative emissions regulations, other than to beat the already embattled automotive sector into further compliance? The amount of pollution emitted by any new vehicle — not counting, of course, the hated and feared carbon dioxide — is already best assigned to the “nominal” category. What purpose does this additional regulation serve, other than to help perpetuate the existence of the EPA?

Oh well. If you want one of these, now’s the time to make that happen. If you can’t get it done in time, address your complaints to the Federal Government, in triplicate, so they can be promptly shredded. It seems like there’s always time to offshore factories, increase the supply of labor in a market already suffering from record levels of unemployment, or bail out a bank… but there’s a clock ticking on the baddest Durango ever. Consider yourselves warned.

* * *

Last week, for Hagerty, I told a story about a lonesome girl and a crumbling car.

20 Replies to “(Last) Weekly Roundup: Act Fast If You Want The Big D Edition”

    • Jack Baruth Post author

      Cautious times there… I was about 3 seconds a lap faster on NCM West than that Durango using a Civic Type R that kept overheating. Their full course time was wayyyyy behind my wife in her NC MX-5.

      • NoID

        If I understand the process properly all competitors get a chance to walk the tracks but very little actual track time, just a few laps total. Except for folks who really know their car and the track fairly well, I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see times generally cautious.

        That dynamic (plus huge variability in driver skill across teams) probably helps explain both the cautious lap times AND how a 3-row SUV could finish in front of supercars.

        • Jack Baruth Post author

          I ran it in 2005 and 2006. In ’05 I finished halfway up the order in… wait for it… a 236,000-mile 190E Benz.

  1. John C.

    I hope Fiat Chrysler is able to pull off a good redo of the Durango and Grand Cherokee. God knows how hollowed out they must be after Cerebrus and Fiat direction for the last 15 years. As old as the current Durango is. The RWD base and longer/lower build seems to endow the three row with more engine choices, driving pleasure, and durability than those Kia Tellurides that win all the comparison tests. I suppose the testers would think it wrong to point out how badly the domestics need this high margin segment before they start gushing over some nothing smelly cabbage patch crossover.

  2. Paul M.

    I like Durango and Grand Cherokee. I have a 2011. It has had issues but my lifetime MOPAR waranty takes care of them. You have to be selective about which Jeep dealer you work with. There are lots of bad ones out there. It rides quiet on highways and is quiet inside. I got the 3.6 liter V6 which is really nice and revs hard like a Honda engine. Smooth. Five speed transmission. Even in V8 form it is a perfect size. Enough tech but not overkill.

    I hope they don’t mess up the replacement. Remember the Grand Cherokee was a moonshot for Jeep. These faster and faster versions don’t bring home the bacon. It is the base engine that is so good and the original formulae that allows these fast versions to exist. We shall see.

  3. Paul M.

    Also, I noticed you had a chess board on LCD second row display for the Chrysler minivan article. If you like chess, watch Queen’s Gambit. It may be a rehash of Bobby Fisher life in female form, but very smartly done and if you are a chess fan true in many details. Good watching.

  4. stingray65

    Once the EPA has vanquished the internal combustion engine as a source of vehicular motivation, and the next Democrat administration finishes off the fossil fuel industry, what will all those EPA lawyers and other do-gooders do to fill their days? We know that no government agency ever gets shut down or even reduced in size just because it original purpose is no longer relevant or needed, so they will need somebody to sue, regulate, tax, and harass. I have to wonder how long it will be before they discover how environmentally nasty all those EV batteries and motors are, and with no fossil fuel industry to kick around they will no doubt start to find it unacceptable that wind power slices and dices so many birds, insects, and bats and that solar panels and the big fan blades are not recyclable and filling up landfills to dangerous levels. One might suggest we revert to animal power, but what with the methane farts I’m sure horses will also need to be banned. Guess we will all just have to work from home permanently to save the planet, but wait what about the power consumed by all those server farms…

  5. bluebarchetta

    I’m almost 50, and I just want to be left alone to enjoy my cars, guns, and paycheck until I keel over in 20-30 years. Why is that so difficult?

      • Kevin Jaeger

        Correct. losing the culture wars to the left has had consequences.

        Some of these things may have seemed trivial and not worth fighting at the time. But during the time we were just going about our lives minding our own business the left captured every institution that matters. And now we watch helplessly while they decide how to exercise their power over us.

  6. MarkXJR

    “The Durango Hellcat will only be made for six months”
    Guaranteed to be worth more in five years than it is now. See Ford GT, BMW 1M for reference

  7. Booty_toucher

    I mean the EPA does lead cleanup of highly toxic sites, among other things, so there is plenty of justification for their existence. Also, how do you think we achieved the “nominal” emissions levels to begin with? I highly doubt the industry would be self regulating – look at emission controls in developing nations compared to our own.

    • John C.

      People of all politics would have more faith in the EPA if they believed that an increased investment would actually lead directly to environmental cleanup. Not as a cudgel against activities that one side finds offensive. It is pretty obvious that the best use of the next dollar spent on environmental cleanup would be in China or India, so is their duty to spend.


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