After nearly a decade of hearing the Hellcat V8’s twin-screw supercharger screaming through the streets, its twilight years are nigh. The Challenger Hellcat, Charger Hellcat, and now the Ram TRX are headed off to meet the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk at the great motorsports park in the sky. However, one unlikely candidate is set to carry the supercharged Hemi torch — the originally one-year-only Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat is entering its third model year.
Flash back to 2021, and Stellantis was going Hellcat-mad. Everyone knew the 700-horsepower supercharged lump would fit in the Durango since it shared a platform with the WK2 Grand Cherokee (the Grand Cherokee has since gone to the WL platform) Trackhawk, and Dodge obliged fans’ fantasies with a one-year-only run of Durango SRT Hellcat SUVs. With 710 horsepower and all-wheel-drive, it was the ultimate family hauler because it was way comfier than something like a BMW X5 M Competition yet still blisteringly fast. However, once 2022 rolled around, the Durango Hellcat disappeared — or so we thought.
For 2023, the Durango Hellcat returned as part of Dodge’s “Never Lift” rush towards the end of V8 production, angering existing owners in the process. In March, Automotive News reported that a group of 2021 Durango Hellcat drivers filed a lawsuit against Dodge parent company Stellantis, claiming “they paid more for their vehicle “than they otherwise would have” and, had they known Dodge would build the Durango Hellcat beyond the 2021 model, possibly “would not have purchased the vehicle at all.” Dodge had pulled a similarly-cheeky stunt before with the 807-horsepower Demon-aping Challenger Super Stock, but that was a distinct model rather than a continuation. Still, is the production of additional Hellcat-powered vehicles a bad thing?
As we roll into model year 2024, it feels surprising to see that the Durango Hellcat is still here with no announced end-of-production date. It still makes 710 horsepower, it still rips from zero-to-60 mph in a claimed 3.5 seconds, and it still has three full rows of seats. It’s the all-singing, all-dancing, all-American daddy of performance SUVs that can tow stuff and pick fights with muscle cars while hauling the entire family. Okay, maybe not all-American considering the third-generation Durango and W166 Mercedes-Benz ML are related, but NASA used German brains to put a man on the moon, so let’s forgive that minor detail.
It’s a bit weird how the last Hellcat engine might come in an SUV, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Granted, it’s odd that the current-generation Durango as a whole is sticking around for a thirteenth model year. You usually don’t see this sort of longevity in the highly-competitive three-row SUV segment. However, the engine fits the Durango perfectly — both are holdovers from a time that’s slipping away, echoes from the old normal. Supercharged V8 family vehicles may be a nearly extinct breed, but the Durango Hellcat is kicking and screaming all the way into the afterlife. If you want a ludicrously quick, undeniably capable, and utterly charismatic performance SUV, buy one while you still can.
(Photo credits: Dodge)
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