Not everyone wants to take a nap while driving from point A to point B. Some want to take a detour and get a jolt of adrenalin on the racetrack now and then.
For this crowd, the crazy-fast Dodge Durango SRT uses advanced technology to create a high-performance user experience to go hand-in-hand with its thrilling driving performance, which includes 0-60 (97 km/h) in 4.4 seconds.
It is a fire-breathing CUV in the mold of AMG and M versions of the Mercedes GLS and BMW X5 models, which are priced $25,000 to $50,000 higher than our well-optioned $75,000 test vehicle.
The Durango SRT offers all the advanced driver-assistance and connectivity features you expect in a luxurious utility vehicle, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM Guardian connected services, and a five-year trial of SiriusXM Travel Link and Traffic; plus forward-collision warning with crash mitigation, stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, blindspot monitoring and rear cross-path detection.
These systems checked off all the boxes on our score sheets, including voice-command capabilities and intuitive controls, making it a smart, connected and safe three-row luxury CUV competitive with anything on the market.
But the Durango SRT makes the final leap onto our list by adding some spice specifically for drivers who do not aspire to become mobile couch potatoes.
Fiat Chrysler’s fourth-generation Uconnect system debuts on this vehicle, and it stimulates our brain while the 475-hp Hemi V-8 sends a thrill up our leg.
The 8.4-in. (213-mm) center-stack touchscreen lights up with a wide array of infotainment options, illustrated with vivid colors, slick animations and high-resolution graphics.
Improvements include quicker startup time and enhanced processing power and they are noticeably faster. The big touchscreen has excellent haptics and can be navigated with a variety of multi-touch gestures.
An SRT button at the base of the center stack calls up a series of what FCA U.S. calls Performance Pages to help drivers tap into the vehicle’s full performance potential with settings to customize transmission shift points, stability control, suspension, steering and all-wheel-drive systems.
One of our favorite animations is a “Christmas tree” that simulates the starting lights at a drag strip and is designed to help drivers hone their launch skills. Further enhancing driving engagement are features delivering real-time horsepower and torque numbers in addition to powertrain vital signs.
Directly in front of the driver is a newly designed 7-in. (178-mm), thin-film transistor customizable digital instrument gauge cluster with a 180-mph (290 km/h) speedometer that allows drivers to select from a variety of layouts, similar to Audi’s Virtual Cockpit.
On the more practical side, there are numerous USB ports distributed fore and aft throughout the vehicle, including two located on the center stack that are illuminated, which makes it easy to plug in devices at night.
Constantly improving ADAS and human-machine interfaces are making automated driving possible, but FCA shows us it doesn’t have to be mandatory and that clever UX design can continue to make driving fun and engaging for as long as we want.