So Editor Jerry comes into my office about this time last year and asks, "Which leg of the Return To Brice Road 2 Caravan do you want to cover, Brad?"
"Are we driving Prowlers again?" I asked.
"Every leg but the Atlanta/Year One Caravan," was his reply. "That caravan has a supercharged Durango and a supercharged Ram truck for the lead and chase vehicles." It was a no-brainer for me-forced induction is like a royal flush-it wins every time.
After arriving in Atlanta, Year One's Pat Staton introduced me to Tom and Diane O'Toole, owners of StarCoach Performance, manufacturer of the Super Pursuit II Dodge Durango and Rambunctious Club Cab Ram we would be driving from Atlanta to Columbus. After piloting both vehicles over the almost 1,000 mile trek, the only feeling was that the trip wasn't nearly long enough.
Starting with fresh-from-the-factory vehicles, StarCoach converts them from Soccer Mom grocery getters to sports car killers. This black Durango Super Pursuit II is a twin to the Platinum rocket we piloted to Columbus last August. As you can see, from bumper-to-bumper, the trick trucks are given a total make over.
Handling improvements go from tank-like to cat-like using DJM Suspension's components for altitude correction, Edelbrock IAC shock absorbers, and a selection of SEC Alloy wheels in 17-, 18- and 20-inch diameters. Tires are Goodyear's finest unidirectional speed-rated radials.
Aesthetically, StarCoach has made a good thing better. Lowering a vehicle and filling the wheelwells with performance rims and rubber always gives it an aggressive nature, but StarCoach replaces the front and rear fascias, and adds color-matched functional running boards and a scooped Good Hood to really set things off.
The trucks are further cleaned up by shaving the roof rack, adding a rear roof spoiler, and then adding smoothed and painted side mirrors.
Interior appointments are not what you'd expect to find in an SUV-a sportscar or luxury sedan maybe, but not an SUV. The first thing we noticed were the leather-covered Cerullo racing-style bucket seats front and rear, with a custom rear center console separating the kids from duking it out in back. The dash and interior trim are upgraded with a custom applied process, giving the pieces a molded carbon fiber look that is as durable as the original OE finish, and doesn't look tacky like the sticker kits. Because no road trip would be complete without tunes, an Audiovox 10-disc CD changer system is installed to crank out your favorite driving rhythms, while an overhead rear console houses an entertainment system and video screen. Making that cross-country trip with the kids in the back doesn't seem that bad any more!
But really, the truth is you don't need any more entertainment than what's found under the hood. Taking Dodge's 360 Magnum as a base, StarCoach installs an intercooled ATI ProCharger supercharger and recalibrated factory computer to kick the power up at the rear wheels. How much? From 196 horsepower at 3,900 rpm and 284 lb/ft of torque at 4,500 rpm to a whopping 295 rear-wheel horsepower at 3,100 rpm and 372 lb/ft of torque at 3,200 rpm!
A custom exhaust system finishes the power upgrades while also offering a distinctive sound. Keeping things under control is a monster Stillen slotted and drilled four wheel disc brake kit, because while going fast is good, being able to stop is better.
So, is all this just another pretty package, or does it really work? On the trip to Columbus, with Tom's blessing, we did what magazine guys like to do best-drive it like it was a rental. As a result, we know that at speeds far in excess of prudent behavior, the Super Pursuit II shows no signs of reaching its potential. Starting line performance is equally impressive, and around-town civility was equal to factory specs.