HUNK OF BURNIN’ LOVE: 2018 Dodge Durango SRT fuses muscle-car V-8 performance with three-row seating comfort, full-size SUV utility

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — So you’re one of a vanishing breed: An all-American performance car aficionado with a penchant for V-8 rumble and neck-snapping torque.

Problem is, the family’s growing and your Dodge Challenger just won’t fit them all in any more for those old-school summer highway trips.

If you’re ready to submit to a crossover utility vehicle (for added room) powered by a wimpy-sounding four-cylinder (for fuel economy), then read no further.

But if you still crave muscle-car manners, but with family-friendly SUV accommodations, here’s your dream machine: the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT.

Got a V-8? Oh, yeah. And not just any V-8. The SRT flaunts a rip-roaring, 6.4-liter Hemi performance-tuned to deliver 475 ferocious horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque.

Even at idle, the dual exhausts emit a deep, dark burble that might unnerve the neighbors. Underway, as the revs rip toward redline, the rumble morphs into a howl.

A solid-shifting, shift paddle-equipped eight-speed automatic tranny drives all four-wheels, clad with massive 245/45ZR/20 tires wrapped around low-gloss black alloys. Four-wheel traction control helps keep the rubber in contact with the road.

The SRT’s performance package doesn’t stop at power. The stiff suspension setup demands submission from the curviest road, though the ride can be somewhat punishing on less-than-smooth surfaces. Big Brembo brakes do yeoman’s work sloughing off speed from the 5,500-pound SUV.

The steering – controlled with a fat, leather-wrapped wheel – is surprisingly sharp and communicative.

The SRT features a Performance Pages menu on the large touchscreen in the center dash allowing the driver to toggle among settings including Eco, Sport and Track, or fashion a unique combination. A launch control allows revs as high as 3,500 rpm before releasing the brakes for a drag strip-style, tire-smokin’ takeoff.

With its luxurious cabin fittings, three-row seating, superb infotainment gear and ominous exterior style enhancements, the Durango SRT is a muscle car fused with the comfort and utility of a full-size, family-friendly SUV. Altogether, it’s an absolute blast.

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