Dodge’s 2018 SRT lineup borrows fire from Demon

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

Chelsea — The Challenger SRT Demon, a drag-racing inspired monster that belches 840 horsepower, may not be the car for everyone. But Dodge officials are betting its influence on the rest of the 2018 SRT muscle-car lineup will get some attention.

SRT (Street and Racing Technology) versions of Dodge’s 2018 Durango, Charger and Challenger will have performance and styling aspects touches inspired by the Demon.

Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger car brands for Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and Fiat with FCA North America, said because of the Demon’s limited production of 3,000 cars, the new line of vehicles may be consumers’ best chance for a taste of the Demon.

“Most people won’t even see (a Demon) on the road, much less have the chance to drive one or own one,” he said at a Tuesday automotive press event at the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea. “So we took a lot of the cool features of that and tried to cascade them throughout the lineup.”

Perhaps the closest buyers can get to the Demon in style and performance will be the 2018 Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody. It lacks some of the Demon’s under-the-hood muscle, but still delivers a whopping 707 horsepower from its 6.2-liter hemi Hellcat V-8.

The body is 31/2 inches wider. Coupled with Pirelli P-Zero performance tires, the Hellcat ups the driver’s control level. Dodge is touting the vehicle as the answer for “enthusiasts who have been clamoring for a factory-produced Hellcat with even more grip.”

Top speed of that car is 195 miles per hour. The starting price is $71,495, which includes the gas-guzzler tax but not the destination charge.

If you’re looking for high performance with a bit more room, the 2018 Durango SRT might fit the bill. Dodge has labeled it “America’s fastest, most powerful and most capable three-row SUV.” Its 6.4-liter engine generates 475 horsepower.

Doug Verley, an engineer with the SRT group, said Dodge has come up with Durango that is “able to make 150-mile-per-hour lane changes.”

“What you see is an increase in horsepower with our engine,” he said. “We put bigger tires on. We put real functional brakes on so we can manage the power from the powertrain. And we put functional exteriors on to make sure we get the right kind of downforce.”

Pricing is not yet available on the Durango SRT. Stylistically, the muscle-SUV has a center-inlet duct on the hood that’s flanked by heat extractors. It sports a lower bumper valance and LED fog lamps.

Kuniskis said Dodge’s willingness to share design and performance aspects of its top-end vehicles through the depth of its lineup is a rarity.

“It’s very unusual in the industry,” he said. “Most people build their top-of-the-line and none of that stuff is allowed to trickle. They call them ‘gates.’ I don’t believe in gates.”

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