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2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat will not go gentle into that good night

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2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

We’ve all seen the meme: A defiant mouse, knowing it’s doomed, flips the bird to a menacing eagle as it swoops down for the kill. The 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat is the mouse and the forthcoming electric future is the eagle.

While automakers have scrambled to prepare for the electric revolution, Dodge has been happy to play with progressively more powerful versions of its vehicles. For 2021, the Dodge Durango gets the full-zoot Hellcat treatment, which is the most defiant act Dodge can make in the face of a greener future. The hopped up SUV is here for just one year and limited to 2,000 examples because Dodge hasn’t modernized its engine to meet emissions standards for 2022 and beyond.

One of those 2,000 defiant mice pulled into my driveway for a long weekend, and I came away both appalled by its audacity and enamored by its brutish charms.

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

Looks to thrill

The Durango SRT Hellcat’s looks are both subtle and assertive. Sure, it has big wheels and tires, available black hood and tailgate stripes, and a dark grille curved into a snarl, but the same can be said of the by-comparison restrained Durango SRT 392 model. The main attraction is the screaming demon Hellcat logo found on the grille, tailgate, and front fenders. It attracts the attention of enthusiasts and the kind of guys who use the turn lane to pass at stoplights. They all can’t believe you’re driving a real Durango Hellcat.

Dodge updates the look of both the Durango and the Hellcat model for 2021. The entire lineup gets cues from the Charger Widebody, with a forward-leaning grille and a revised front fascia. The Hellcat also gets a new front splitter, improved cooling for the oil cooler duct and cold air induction, and a new rear spoiler that increases rear downforce by 400%, or 140 pounds at the vehicle’s top speed of 180 mph.

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

Power for power’s sake

It takes one crank of the ignition to learn that the Durango SRT Hellcat is likely possessed by the demon on its logos. It starts with a growl that settles into a low rumble. Goosing the throttle raises the pitch and creates urgency with accompanying supercharger whine. It’s quite intoxicating for anyone who loves a V-8.

That V-8 is the familiar supercharged 6.2-liter monster from other Hellcat models. Here it conjures 710 hp and 645 lb-ft of torque. The monster motor slams its power through an 8-speed automatic transmission and apportions it to all four wheels, which is a form of equality needed to prevent uncontrolled tire slip. The all-wheel-drive system sends up to half the power to the front in Tow and Snow modes, but it’s rear-biased otherwise, varying between 60% to the rear in Normal mode and 70% to the rear in Track mode.

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

Dodge goes further to corral all that power to unlock a 0-60 mph sprint of 3.5 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 11.5 seconds. Those numbers are aided by both launch control and launch assist. Launch control, which is activated by a switch on the dash or by digging into the center touchscreen, manages tire slip to achieve the fastest acceleration. Launch assist uses wheel-speed sensors to monitor wheel hop and pulls back engine torque if it’s detected. The Durango Hellcat is not only quick, it can also tow a hefty 8,700 pounds.

The Hellcat engine manages to be a pussycat when I can restrain myself from dipping deep into the throttle. When my right foot inevitably seeks the floor, however, the eruption begins. Even in a cold Midwest winter, the Durango Hellcat’s Pirelli Scorpion Zero 295/45ZR20 all-season performance tires grip the pavement and rocket the 5,710-pound beast forward. It’s a rush of acceleration that kicks up endorphins with little bits of rubber.

Dodge makes all that power by strapping a 2.38-liter supercharger that maxes out at 11.6 pounds of boost to its iron-block 6.2-liter V-8. That accounts for the air in the internal combustion engine equation and a massive 92-mm throttle body dumps fuel into the cylinders. A cold air scoop up front captures air for the supercharger, and a dedicated cooling circuit for the charge air coolers keeps the engine from overheating on a track.

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

Stiff in the knees

The Durango starts out as a three-row crossover SUV and Hellcatting it doesn’t make it much less family friendly. Sure, it’s loud, but most of us would rather listen to supercharger whine than whining children. The suspension, however, might be too much for some families.

To make the Durango both a road and track beast, Dodge started with the tuning for the Durango SRT 392 and increased the rebound control of the adaptive Bilstein dampers by 20%, and made the rear damper top mounts 18% stiffer.

Dodge claims the Durango Hellcat is more comfortable in Auto mode than the SRT 392, but it feels firmer. It can pound over bumps, and dips and swells can create a harsh jiggle that sends a shock through occupants. It’s stiff in the knees without the ability to absorb impacts I’ve experienced in other base Durangos. That tuning also helps control all that weight to send it hurtling into and out of corners on a twisty road or racetrack. It’s a tradeoff.

Dodge says the suspension changes reduce understeer by 2.5%. Even in traffic in 30-degree weather, the Durango Hellcat gives a glimpse of its capability with quick turn-in despite fairly slow steering and little body lean. I’d love to get it on a track, but its limited availability and the coronavirus pandemic mean I likely never will. Hopefully, some owners will experience the thrill of sending almost three tons of SUV careening into tight esses and down long, fast straights.

A set of big serving plates arrests the Durango Hellcat’s momentum. Up front, it has two-piece 15.8-inch rotors with 6-piston calipers, and out back reside 13.8-inch rotors with 4-piston calipers. That’s more than enough stopping power for anything you should be able to do on the street, and certainly enough for a few laps on a track, but I wouldn’t push it too long.

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

Comfortable cabin

The Durango SRT Hellcat’s do-everything mantra is most exemplified by its interior. The cabin is just as roomy and just as useful as a run-of-the-mill V-6-powered Durango. That means it can seat seven (rather than eight due to standard second-row captain’s chairs) and carry 17.2 cubic feet of cargo with all the seats up and 85.1 cubic feet of cargo with the second and third rows folded flat.

Up front, it’s sporty and much the same as the SRT 392 model. It gets a flat-bottom steering wheel, black nappa leather performance bucket seats with suede inserts, and red mostly analog gauges that read as sinister at night. The center screen lets me choose a drive mode, configure an individual drive mode, set the rpm for the launch control, and read SRT Performance Pages information, such as real-time power, performance timers, and additional gauges. An SRT button on the center stack is a shortcut to the Performance Pages screens.

The Hellcat’s cabin also features the changes made to all Durangos for 2021, including a larger 10.1-inch touchscreen with the Uconnect 5 infotainment system that’s five times faster than the outgoing version. Uconnect has been one of the best infotainment systems since its inception and this is the best yet.

The Durango SRT Hellcat is a do-everything three-row SUV with just three limitations: price, fuel economy, and availability. I got 12 mpg over 351 miles of mostly highway driving. That’s ridiculously low and it’s only exacerbated by the need for hi-test gasoline. It starts at $82,490, and it’s already sold out despite the price and any premiums Dodge dealers are charging for a Hellcat SUV that’s even more exclusive than the Challenger SRT Demon. A few options on my tester brought the total to $89,665. That’s a lot to pay for a decade-old family SUV, but it’s also the enthusiast’s opportunity to own a piece of an American muscle car era that won’t go gentle into the electric good night.

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Autos

1990 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo IMSA GTO race car for sale

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1990 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo IMSA GTO race car (Photo by Bring a Trailer)

Nissan scored some of its biggest racing successes in the late 1980s and early 1990s, competing in the IMSA GTP prototype class and racing the Z32-generation 300ZX in the GTO class. One of those 300ZX IMSA GTO race cars is now for sale on Bring a Trailer.

Clayton Cunningham racing built seven factory-supported cars, which raced between 1989 and 1995. This car—chassis 004—debuted in 1990 and raced in 1991 as well, with wins at Road Atlanta and Watkins Glen, seven pole positions, two fastest laps, and a 93% finishing record, according to the listing.

Power is provided by a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-6, coupled to a 5-speed manual transmission with rear-wheel drive.

1990 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo IMSA GTO race car (Photo by Bring a Trailer)

Carbon-fiber bodywork vaguely resembles a stock 1990 Nissan 300ZX, but underneath is a bespoke chromoly tubular space frame. Chassis 004 debuted an extended-wheelbase layout intended to help cure handling ills with the first three cars.

After 14 races, chassis 004 was retired at the end of the 1991 season. It was used as a backup car, before being sold in 1997 to a Canadian owner. That owner left the car unused before returning it to Clayton Cunningham Racing in 2003 for reconditioning, according to the listing. The car then sat idle again until it was sold in 2017 to an Oregon owner, who entered it in vintage races. It was refurbished a second time before being acquired by the current owner in 2020, according to the listing.

Its worth noting that a similar car, chassis 002, built for the 1989 IMSA season, went unsold after being listed by Stratas Auctions last year. That car has at the same twin-turbo engine as chassis 004, but the earlier short-wheelbase chassis. It also never won a race; its best finish was third at Mid-Ohio.

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Autos

How to choose 35-inch or 37-inch tires

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2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

The 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor will be available with 35-inch or 37-inch tires when it hits dealerships this summer, and the choice really depends on how you plan to use the Raptor, according to Muscle Cars & Trucks.

Based on interviews with Ford engineers, the website advises that the 35-inch tires are better for high-speed off-roading, while the 37-inch tires are better for driving over large obstacles at slower speeds.

Both 2021 Raptor tires are from the BF Goodrich K02 series. The truck comes standard with 35-inch tires; the 37-inch tires are a $7,500 option. They’re also the largest tires available from the factory for a half-ton pickup truck.

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

The bigger tires come with various hardware and software changes, which should avoid the ride and steering issues that often come with simply bolting bigger tires onto a truck, Adam Busack, Ford Performance feature engineering supervisor for the 2021 Raptor, said in an interview with Muscle Cars & Trucks. Those changes include repackaged suspension, and calibration changes for the steering, powertrain, and anti-lock brakes.

Other notable features of the 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor include first-ever coil-spring rear suspension, increased suspension travel (now 14 inches in the front and 15 inches in the rear), and Fox internal-bypass shocks. The Raptor also moves to the current-generation F-150 platform, which brings increased structural rigidity and a new infotainment system, among other features.

Under the hood, the Raptor gets a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6, teamed with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Output hasn’t been announced, but we expect it to surpass the previous generation’s 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. Ford has confirmed that an upcoming 2022 Raptor R will get a V-8, but hasn’t released any other details.

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Autos

2022 Genesis G70, 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS, 2022 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: This Week’s Top Photos

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Electric Porsche Macan development

Genesis this week kicked off its European launch with the reveal of a sexy G70 wagon. It’s based on the updated 2022 Genesis G70 sedan, and sadly we won’t see it in the United States.

Electric Porsche Macan development

Porsche plans to offer an electric Macan alongside an updated version of the current gas-powered model. While we’ve previously spotted the updated gas model, Porsche this week provided a glimpse of the new electric Macan for the first time.

2023 Porsche Cayenne Coupe facelift spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2023 Porsche Cayenne Coupe facelift spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Another Porsche out testing was an updated Cayenne. Porsche’s Cayenne range is about to undergo its mid-cycle refresh and the changes look to be more substantial than normal. Our latest spy shots show a prototype for the more dynamically styled Cayenne Coupe.

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS production at plant in Sindelfingen, Germany

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS production at plant in Sindelfingen, Germany

Mercedes-Benz reached a major turning point with the start of production of its first dedicated electric vehicle, the 2022 EQS. The big sedan is due in showrooms this fall with a 108 kilowatt-hour battery, or enough for 400 miles of range.

2021 Lexus IS350 F Sport

2021 Lexus IS350 F Sport

Lexus has a new generation of its IS sedan on its hands, one that boasts bold styling and a sport-tuned chassis. The car is more of a heavy update of the outgoing IS than a true redesign, and this becomes evident after a quick drive.

2021 Acura TLX Type S

2021 Acura TLX Type S

An alternative to the IS is Acura’s new TLX, which comes in sporty Type S guise. The TLX Type S is serving as the official pace car at this weekend’s Mid-Ohio round of the 2021 WeatherTech Sports Car Championship, ahead of the showroom appearance later this month.

2022 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2022 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Chevy engineers were spotted testing a hotter version of the mid-engined C8 Corvette, and it’s likely the new Z06. We hear it will run a naturally aspirated V-8, and some video footage of the tester seems to confirm it.

2022 Ineos Grenadier prototype

2022 Ineos Grenadier prototype

The Land Rover Defender-inspired Ineos Grenadier is undergoing durability testing ahead of the start of production in 2022. That’s about a year later than originally planned, but a lot has changed in the past year, and that’s before you factor in the disruptions caused by the coronavirus.

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