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Tim Kuniskis Explains The Nuances Between The Two Customers

2021 2022 2023 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat
Image Via Dodge.

With the reveal of the 2021 Dodge Durango Hellcat, FCA now has two 700-plus horsepower utility vehicles in its portfolio. The other being the two-row Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. With the two SUVs being so close in power, and even being in the same showroom in some cases, one may assume that the two vehicles may cannibalize each other. But according to Tim Kuniskis, head of FCA passenger cars, that appears unlikely.

“The real purpose of Durango Hellcat was that it was ‘muscle car’ feeling (compared to the Trackhawk) – more Dodge than Jeep,” said Kuniskis. “The (Trackhawk) doesn’t want to be loud and in your face like a Jeep customer is. The Dodge Durango Hellcat is loud and in your face.”

While the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk has poached customers from exotics like the Nissan GT-R, the Durango has a different mission.

“Our buyers call their Durango their three-row muscle car… they put the Hellcat in the Grand Cherokee and made it different (than a Dodge) because the Grand Cherokee buyer is different than the Dodge buyer, as it should be. When we put it in Durango we said ‘it can’t be the same’ because they’re different buyers.”

2021 Dodge Durango Trackhawk SRT
Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat Interior.

Indeed, if you’ve ever witnessed a Trackhawk move through traffic, it’s rather unassuming to those not in the know. It, more or less, looks like any other Jeep Grand Cherokee. And it idles rather calmly at the lights. So, with a raucous X-pipe exhaust and 710 horsepower (3 more than the Trackhawk), and more aggressive looks for the Durango Hellcat, Dodge bets that will be enough.

“We need to make sure that it looks like a muscle car… we’ve got the stripes, we’ve got the aggressive fascia, we’ve got Hellcat badges all over it, and we made sure it handled differently and very aggressively… we made sure the exhaust was very ‘Dodge like’… it’s loud, it’s obnoxious, it sounds like a Charger and Challenger, which is awesome.”

The three-row 2021 Durango Hellcat also caps the family of performance vehicles.

“We want Charger, Challenger and Durango to be looked upon as ‘The American Performance Brand’. That’s our goal.”

Written by Manoli Katakis

Muscle Cars & Trucks was founded by Manoli Katakis - an automotive media veteran that has been covering the latest car news since 2009. His journalism has uncovered dozens of major product changes, updates, plans, and cancellations long before automakers were ready to make things official.

Some highlights over the years of his reporting include the uncovering of the Zora trademark before anybody else reported on the coming of a mid-engine Corvette, as well as the dead-accurate reporting of the coming of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, two years before it hit the market, and even before the debut of the concept vehicle. This type of reporting has immediately continued here, with reports of the original seventh-generation Camaro plans being shelved, as well as what's in store for the Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of his work can be found on massive automotive media outlets, such as Motor1. He also has been a guest on the 910AM Radio Station with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne, as well as the enthusiast-oriented Camaro Show podcast.

Over the years, Manoli has interviewed various automotive industry titans, leaders, and people that make things happen otherwise. These include figureheads such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GM President Mark Reuss, automotive aftermarket icon Ken Lingenfelter, Dodge firebrand Tim Kuniskis, along with various chief engineers of vehicles such as the Ford F-150 & Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro & Corvette, and many more.

At MC&T, Manoli is taking his journalism expertise, deeply planted sources, driving abilities, and automotive industry knowledge to new levels, covering more vehicles and brands than ever before. This is the place where you will continue to read groundbreaking stories about American performance vehicles, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Here is where you’ll also read insights and quotes from various automotive subject matter experts on the latest relevant products, as well as some of the latest official news from their manufacturers.

Fun facts: he also once beat Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner in an autocross with a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The biggest vehicle he’s ever driven is a John Deere mining truck. Besides a go-kart, the smallest vehicle he’s driven has been a Hyundai i10. He’s also spent time in the cockpit of various American performance vehicle icons, including the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Ford Mustang GT350R. He has reviewed dozens of trucks, SUVs, and performance vehicles over the years.

One of his favorite new vehicles on the market today happens to be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. He is also a card carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America, and regularly participates in Detroit Region autocross events.

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