It’s been around seemingly forever by the Dodge 5.7-liter HEMI V8 has completely evolved from its basic roots in the 1950s, and honestly even mentioning the 1950s really isn’t fair as the current engine share not not one part or bolt with anything dating back more than a decade.
In the 2017 Dodge Durango R/T it’s rated at has 360 horsepower and 390 pound feet of torque. It red lines at 5,800 rpm which is relatively low but it revs pretty quickly and happily up to that point. Here in the Durango it’s mated to a ZF designed 8-speed automatic Dodge brands as a TorqueFlite – yes a 1950s marketing reference, but we didn’t say it Dodge did.
The engine itself has modern day technologies such as port fuel-injection. Air flow starts at a sizable air filter box just behind the driver side headlamp and makes its way to a front-mounted throttle body though a large resonator chamber that helps it get its V8 growl on.
Past the throttle body, the intake charge makes it to the cylinders through a long runner intake manifold similar to the one first seen on the 6.4 liter HEMI engines. Further separating this HEMI from the 1950s is its variable cam timing, which can retard or advance timing depending on engine load and speed to give either more performance or increased fuel economy.
Backing that is up that technology is a Multi-Displacement System (MDS) that uses oil-pressure control to deactivate eight of its hydraulic lifters, shutting down four cylinders during coast, cruising or other times when extra power isn’t needed.
In this mode, the valves are closed with no fuel, no spark – no combustion in the cylinders. When you roll onto the throttle it can fire them back up in as little as 40 milliseconds. It’s barely noticeable. When you are demanding power, the HEMI V8 delivers on its name with hemispherical aluminum heads that while still only have two valves per cylinder, have two very large valves.
Because there are two spark plugs per cylinder, firing them is a very unique coil pack that has two boots. This makes for a clean look up on top of the engine which is manufactured in Saltillo, Mexico.
Looking around the engine compartment, notable is the fact that even though this is a large SUV, it’s still packed pretty tight. Things like access to the brake fluid reservoir are backed up tightly to the cowl.
The battery is absent the engine bay, mounted under the passenger seat but the cable does come up at the passenger side firewall close to the main fuse block. Just ahead of that is the engine control unit (ECU).
Ahead of that is the filler cap for the coolant and nearby the oil dipstick. Checking the windshield washer fluid will be on the driver side front and just behind that the air filter box. It’s not too hard to get into as it’s relatively open. The oil filler cap is nearby right on top of the engine.
Standing back, a nice detail here is the gas hood strut which always beats a collapsible prop rod any day of the week. There’s also a healthy degree of sound deadening here too, why you only hear the good stuff when you mash the throttle.