Perfect Family Rocket? Visiting California in a 2019 Dodge Durango SRT

[Photo: Dodge]

I knew I wanted to drive the 2019 Dodge Durango SRT for my family’s visit to Southern California. It was the perfect opportunity to be the good guy (drive a comfy family hauler) and bad guy (…with a 475 horsepower, 6.4-liter Hemi V8) at the same time.

I use a special scale for judging the awesomeness of a vehicle. It only applies to the most extreme examples of any vehicle. As an example, a regular Ford F-150 can’t be judged this way, but a Raptor could. The scale I refer to is the SHMBO-Scale – or the “She-who-must-be-obeyed – Scale”

The family was ready to leave me at Hogwarts after my exuberant driving.

Simply put: If my significant other finds a vehicle in bad taste, if she thinks it’s dangerous, illogical or obnoxious – it’s a good vehicle. This applies to Demons, GT500s, Z06s, STIs, Trackhawks, many AMGs and just about any extreme truck. Yes, the 2019 Dodge Durango SRT is on that list.

While our stay in Los Angeles was brief, we went to the beach several times, Olvera Street, Encino, Philippes Original French Dip, Studio City, Castle Golf, Hollywood, China Town, Boyle Heights, Tarzana and Universal Studios. Over 300 miles of buzzing all over Los Angeles.

Interior and Utility

Our 2019 Dodge Durango SRT (which is pretty much the same as the 2018) had a very comfortable interior with raised stitching, sports seats and the optional third-row seat. All of which came in handy when in-laws tried to poke holes in my manly ride:

Inlaw: “So THIS is your idea of a family car – Nathan?!”

Me: “It’s got amazeballs cargo space and a third row – yo.”

….I didn’t say “amazeballs” or “yo” – but I kind of wish I did.

Tons of space for an overpacking family of four!

Cargo space was a major plus. With a total of 84.5 cubic-feet of maximum cargo space, we had a plentiful 47.7 ft³ behind the second row. Which is handy for a family of four who (way) over-pack.


Once you get used to the lushious exhaust note, you’ll find the ride to be fairly compliant – until you corner hard. Like a big, heavy sports wagon, the weight can be felt high in the shoulders if you push it. Before it gets to that point, the sports suspension pulls you back to earth and the all-wheel drive (AWD) system keeps most of the rubber from burning.

Brakes are powerful and a bit grabby in slow traffic. The accelerator is a bit touchy too. It takes time to learn how to be gentle with both. The steering heft is ideal for sports car lovers. Excellent steering wheel too.

In traffic, it makes a lot of noise, but (even with thick racing stripes) it was not terribly polarizing. Well, EV drivers looked as vexed as my spouse. She especially hated it when I would open the windows and click the eight-speed down several gears in a tunnel. The sound “WHOOOFFF” would irritate her more and more.

What a great ride.

I averaged about 13 mpg, which, for a vehicle being deliberately in lower gears 85% of the time, wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

Our 2019 Dodge Durango SRT came in at about $68,000. While that is steep (the base price is $62,995) it is a lot less expensive than a Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS 63 which starts at $126,150. Performance-wise, they are pretty close. I can’t think of another three-row SUV that competes.

Maybe the next-generation Ford Explorer performance model – but that’s at least a year off.

It was a hell of a trip thanks to my evil family hauler. Best of all, my youngest seemed to make it all worthwhile. “Dad, our car kind of sounded like those cars in the Fast and Furious part of the ride at Universal Studios!” Not only did I grin, but She-who-must-be-obeyed snorted with, “Well, you’re no Vin Diesel.”

Ha! I’ll take it!