Road Trip: 2018 Dodge Durango SRT
Road-Tripping With Attitude
Traveling during peak seasons isn’t always fun, but road-tripping during summer break is something our families, along with millions of others, do to celebrate surviving another exhausting year of juggling never-ending work commitments and time-sucking school calendars.
This year we decided to up the ante and travel a bit further, so a plan for a 1,000-mile road trip through Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin was drafted. After careful examination, it was a go.
Our means of transportation for this year’s family summer road trip would be the ’18 Dodge Durango SRT, which, on paper, appeared to be an exquisite traveling machine. Lots of storage, three rows of leather-wrapped seating, adaptive cruise control, ventilated front seats, lane-departure and blind-spot warning systems, and dual screens with a built-in Blu-ray player and HDMI hookups.
The Durango’s family friendly amenities might be vast and impressive in their own right, but not more than the 6.4L V-8 Hemi engine found under the chiseled hood, which is adorned with purpose-built heat extractors and air inlets reminiscent of the mighty Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. And with 475 hp, 470 lb-ft of torque, and an SRT-tuned high-performance exhaust system, the sound emanating from the twin pipes is menacing enough to force soccer moms to quickly cross into the right lane.
The first leg of our journey would take us exactly 300 miles north of our home base in Indianapolis to Milwaukee, where we would spend two days checking out everything the lakeside birthplace of Harley-Davidson had to offer. From there, we would continue our journey north to the quiet village of Elkhart Lake, famous for its picturesque lakes and Road America racetrack, before heading south to Chicago to enjoy a slice of deep-dish pizza. Lastly, we would wrap up the trip with a brief drive, traffic permitting, from Chicago to Indianapolis.
Departure day was finally upon us and it was time to cram our luggage into the Durango’s cargo space, but with four carry-on suitcases, three backpacks, a cooler, and five foldable lawn chairs, it wouldn’t be as easy as just throwing junk in the trunk. To fit everything and everyone properly, we opted for packing in an “L” pattern, which saw one of the third-row seats remain upright while the other was folded flat. It’s worth mentioning that our test vehicle featured the optional second-row center console, which limited seating capacity to six passengers instead of seven, but added two more chargers and illuminated cupholders, for a total of 9 power outlets and 10 drink cubbies throughout the cabin.
The five-hour drive to Wisconsin gave everyone enough time to settle into their respective seats and familiarize themselves with the amenities on hand. Up front, adaptive cruise control kept the 392 Hemi roaring steady at 2,100 rpm. In the back seat, kid one and kid two listened to a movie via the wireless headphones that accompany the $1,995 rear entertainment system, and kid three scrolled endlessly through Instagram while plugged into the rearmost power outlet.
Milwaukee wowed everyone with a charming downtown, museums galore, and a Public Market that, although nowhere nearly as big as Seattle’s, offers a delicious one-stop shop for foodies and tourists alike.
Elkhart Lake is a small town, and although it’s surrounded by lakes and high-end golf courses, it’s primarily known for auto racing, cheese, sausage, and beer. Perhaps that’s why we dubbed it the “promised land” after our three-night stay. The two-hour drive from Elkhart Lake to Chicago was a nasty one, as thunderstorms that hammered the area quickly highlighted how much the Pirelli P Zeros hate heavy rain. The 5,510-pound family hauler struggled for traction even with its adaptive damping suspension and configurable four-wheel drive. Chicago proved to be the perfect environment for testing the Durango’s city chops, although navigating its maze of toll roads was far from enjoyable.
After 964 miles on Midwestern roads, the three-row beast delivered 19.9 mpg and provided us with comfortable and luxurious accommodations that pleased even the youngest and oldest of critics. The fact that it can do 0-60 in 4.4 seconds and the quarter-mile in 12.9 is just icing on the cake.