True car enthusiasts need to thank Dodge as they continue to make American muscle cars. And their Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody is one example. A supercharged V8 sedan that provides excitement with its brute power and sounds that gives goose bumps, both from the tailpipes and engine bay.
The 2020 Dodge Charger is offered in SXT, GT, R/T, Scat Pack and SRT Hellcat Widebody that was tested.
The Hellcat Widebody is 3.5 inches wider than standard models and that’s to cover its wider wheels and 12-inch wide
Pirelli performance tires. The wider body, with flared wheel arches, gives the Hellcat a squat, planted, racy look. Especially with the three functional hood scoops that adds cooling to the hot Hemi V8. And racy it is.
The 6.2-liter, supercharged HEMI V8 generates a whopping 707-hp and 650 lb/ft of torque. It’s coupled to Chrysler’s famed 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission that has virtually indiscernible shifts of 160-milliseconds along with rev-matching. It’s doubtful a power shift could be faster.
Back in 1963 I had a ride in a new Dodge Ramcharger from Berk Motors in West Catasauqua. It had a TorqueFlite automatic transmission and under full throttle, the push button automatic shifter, changed gears so fast it produced tire squeal out of first-second, second-third gear shifts. For an 18-year old kid at the time, the experience was extremely impressive and something I’ve never forgotten. And back then there was no traction control, Line-Lock or Launch Control as on the new Hellcat.
Dodge says the combination can easily do 0-60 in 3.6 seconds and the quarter-mile in 10.96 seconds. Under full, even partial throttle, the whine from the supercharger, roar from the engine and garble from the exhausts forces a wide smile and goose bumps. Punch the throttle too often and EPA’s mileage estimates of 12 city, 21-highway mpg will never be realized. But the overall experience is well worth the decreased fuel economy. With the Hellcat powertrain comes drive modes of Sport, Track,
Default settings and Custom.
In addition, there are other performance features. For drag racing if you desire to do so, there’s Launch Control that manages tire slip and allows the driver to maintain straight-line acceleration; Launch Assist uses wheel speed sensors to curtain driveline damaging wheel-hop (something Mustang Cobra’s were noted for) while modifying engine torque to regain full grip; Line-Lock engages front brakes to hold the vehicle stationary leaving the rear wheels free for a burnout to heat up and clean the tires and quicker acceleration.
Back in my drag racing days we did the latter by just holding the brake pedal while revving the throttle. (It wasn’t good for the brakes.)
Hellcat also has Torque Reserve that prefills the supercharger and manages fuel flow and spark advance to balance engine rpm and torque that generates a reserve of torque that’s delivered upon acceleration from a standing stop. Plus, an anti-spin rear axle.
There’s also Race Cooldown that cools the supercharger/charge air cooler after the engine is shut off. It does this by running the intercooler pump and radiator fan. And to stop this beautiful hunk of steel, there are famed Brembo brakes on all four wheels.
By now you know the Hellcat is truly a Dodge muscle car. But it has other attributes like a swanky, racy interior.
Let’s start with heated/cooled front Alcantara leather seats that are super supportive and hug the body ever so intimately. They have sueded inserts and headrests are embossed with the SRT emblem. Heated back seats are equally adorned for two adults with appreciable legroom provided the fronts aren’t racked well rearward. Plus, doors open wide for easy ingress/egress.
The cockpit features a large 8.4-inch touchscreen that takes some seat time with the owner’s manual. A variety of selectable displays serve the rearview camera, audio, climate, Wi-Fi Hotspot, UConnect infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, all the racing modes, plus a 0-60 timer that also shows up on the instrument gauge cluster.
HVAC controls are large, easy to view and use. And specific choices show up on the touchscreen for added control.
A burly t-handle transmission shifter is surrounded by carbon fiber trim that also adorns dash and doors.
Hellcats’ speedometer goes to 200 mph although it’s been rated at 196 mph. The gauge cluster includes a driver information display for alerts, functions and 0-60 timer.
While Charger Hellcat is a going machine, it’s still a viable daily driver. With electric power steering it parks relatively easily. As such, steering effort can be adjusted on the Performance Page of the display, for a choice of driving situations i.e. racing, cruising or parking.
Hellcat handles superbly as expected and the ride is a tad on the taut side considering it has a performance suspension. But to be a daily driver in winter, the big 20-inch Pirelli’s have to be exchanged for snow tires on the rear.
Despite it’s muscle car image, Charger SRT is not without safety features. It came standard with blind spot and cross path detection and a host of airbags.
Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody carried a base price of $69,995. But that rapidly escalated after adding a Customer Preferred Package ($1,595) that included the carbon fiber and sueded trim, tilt/telescoping steering wheel; Alcantara leather package ($995); navigation and travel group ($995) adds Sirius satellite radio/Travel Link, U-Connect and more; Harmon Kardon audio ($1,995) with surround sound; red seat belts ($395); 3-season tires ($695); and the dastardly gas guzzler tax ($2,100) that took the bottom line to $80,260 with delivery.
Although it’s a performance car, Dodge includes a 5 year, 60K powertrain and 3/36K basic warranties.
Now if a sedan is not to your liking and you need the utility of an SUV, and if you can wait a bit, Dodge will be offering their 2021 Durango SRT Hellcat SUV with 710-hp and 645 lb/ft of torque. It will be the world’s most powerful SUV.
If you crave even more power, how about the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye with 797-hp and 707 lb/ft of torque?
Thanks Dodge for keeping the muscle car spirit alive.