Galina “Red” Reznikov is a matriarchal character on the hit Netflix television series, Orange is the New Black. Although a wife and mother in her life outside of Litchfield Prison, Red’s powerful Russian Mafia connections make her a powerful and fearsome character amongst her inmate peers.

This 2015 Dodge Durango R/T is the Red Reznikov in the world of crossover SUVs, and not just because of the shade of its paint matches the colour of the fiery inmate’s hair.

Where most crossovers are smoothed and distilled and refined to be the gentle and practical family-friendly machinery they have become, the Durango R/T has a mean streak in it. If you roll up its sleeves, it’ll show you some scary tattoos that speak to a rugged background that reaches beyond the Whole Foods parking lot in a snowstorm.

For the Durango, that background has strong ties to the rugged off-road rambling gang of Jeep Grand Cherokees from which it has stolen its underpinnings before having them stretched to accommodate a third row of passenger seating. Impressive as that is, it’s the muscular heart and lungs of this Durango R/T model with its 5.7L V8 that really gives this butch ute its swagger. That’s right, this thing does have a Hemi and that makes it pretty unique – a badass amid its peers.

Pumping out a lusty 360 horsepower is pretty butch, but it’s the nearly 400 lb-ft of torque that really gives the Durango R/T its clout. And while competitors like Ford’s twin-turbo V6 Explorer might compete in terms of power, the Durango’s swagger comes from the deep, bass-rich V8 burble emitted from the twin tailpipes. Nothing else in the class sounds like this, and frankly, that’ll be all that some people will need to make up their mind and buy a Durango over the countless other seven-passenger alternatives. Plus, the Durango R/T is rated to tow 3,266 kg, far more than its direct crossover competitors, without being as bulky as full-sizers like the Tahoe or Nissan Armada.

More on Test Drive: 2014 Dodge Durango Citadel

For all its rugged machismo, the Durango’s V8 is more refined and smarter than its gruff voice might make you believe. This is evident in its efficiency, which, while not diesel- or hybrid-stellar, is still fairly impressive for a vehicle of this size and mass. With mostly highway driving during its weeklong stay, we saw an indicated average of 11.4 L/100 km, better than the government’s suggested 11.5 L/100 km highway average (and much better than the suggested 17.3 L city rating). Bear in mind that we were in no way hypermiling this thing.

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