- I drove a $92,245 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody, the most thoroughly insane trim level of Dodge’s two-door, neo-muscle car.
- The car has a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 that makes 717 horsepower.
- That kind of power is staggering, but the Challenger is also a very capable cruiser, with exceptionally comfortable seats and a (relatively) calm demeanor. Until you unleash the beast.
- I’ve never been an immediate fan of Dodge’s big-engine, throwback cars. But I almost always end up adoring them when I get behind the wheel.
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Sure, you could spend less than $30,000 on the absolute base Challenger and get a fun, retro muscle car with rear wheel drive. Even with just a 305-horsepower V6 under the hood, you might consider that a brilliant purchase.
But Dodge of course doesn’t stop there. The Challenger nameplate has been around since 1970, but it was retired for a while, them revived in the late 2000s, as the Big Three Detroit automakers renewed a rivalry with vehicles that also included new generations of the Ford Mustang and the Chevy Camaro that evoked an earlier era.
Dodge has no fewer than nine Challenger trim levels and performance packages available, of which the $92,245 SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody is the top feline. With red eyes. That is wide.
I borrowed the well-optioned car for the Independence Day weekend, which seemed appropriate. Here’s how my testing of this American icon, intensified, went down:
The car is unapologetically aggressive in its styling — perhaps more so than the current crop of updated muscle and pony cars. Before numerous options, the starting price was $58,995.
So why “Widebody?” Well, this Challenger has 3.5 extra total inches in width, and the broader fenders accommodate 20-inch-by-11-inch wheels wearing Pirelli P-Zero tires.
The 20-inch wheels are “Carbon Black” aluminum, front …
… And rear.
Stopping power is provided by grabby Brembo brakes.
The Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody does a fantastic job of looking like it was transported from the past, while being eye-catching in the present.
The fascia directly evokes the Challenger’s now-50-year legacy. “SRT” stands for “Street and Racing Technology” — the brand’s performance division.
A pair of snarling hood scoops almost made me overlook the bold, black racing strips (they’re “Carbon,” and nearly $1,000 extra).
The Challenger’s road presence is intimidating. It announces itself.
The high-intensity headlights were extremely effective on a late-night drive, but they aren’t especially complicated in appearance.
The front aerodynamic elements initially had me worried that getting in and out of driveways would be tricky, but clearance was usually adequate.
Out back, the Challenger has a spoiler. A modest spoiler, to be honest.
It presides over a rear end that, like the front, could have been ripped from the early 1970s.
The SRT badging also shows up here.
The tail lights have no relationship to the headlights, but that’s consistent with the Challenger’s vibe: it’s not trying to resemble the seamless, integrated design of a contemporary two-door.
If you peer closely, you’ll see a red eye on the hellcat emblem
The trunk space is generous: just over 16 cubic feet.
It could have held far more groceries that what I picked up on a weekend run to the store.
Now for the moment of truth! Let’s pop the hood and get a closer look at the monster engine.
That a 6.2-liter, supercharged, Hemi V8, making 717 horsepower with 656 pound-feet of torque.
It’s a work of engineering sculpture. The Hemi name derives from the hemispherical combustion chambers.
Check out that massive air intake!
And how about that hefty green supercharger belt?
The incredible power is piped through an eight-speed “TorqueFlight” automatic transmission.
The retro script on the fuel cap takes one back to a retro time for gas prices. But these days, you’ll pay up for the Challenger’s 13 mpg city/21 highway/15 combined fuel economy.
Let’s slip inside and check out what at first looks like a rather boring all-black interior.
There’s even kinda sorta adequate legroom in the back. But the real story is the seats themselves. They are so, so comfortable. As in sofa-soft. Up front, they’re also heated and cooled.
The multifunction steering wheel also gets some SRT branding.
And should you want to flick through the gears, the paddle shifters are there for manual mode.
The 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen hosts Dodge’s underrated Uconnect system, which we’ve found to be generally excellent.
So what’s the verdict?
The 2020 Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody is both too much car for my driving abilities and exactly the big V8’ed two-door I might choose for low-key cruising, given its pleasing exhaust noises and ultra-comfy seats.
Quite a paradox, don’t you think? But if you think a bit more, it’s a super-American take on a performance machine: throwback styling, couch-potato comfort, massive horsepower, a set of rear wheels that do not want to stay stuck to the pavement, and scads of advanced technology keeping it all in check.
Making a Hellcat into an SRT Redeye Widebody Hellcat adds $17,600 to the sticker price and brings everything from an engine chiller to a special speedometer that’s registered to 220 mph to the party. The car is aimed at dedicated horsepower aficionados who are likely to straight-line race this sucker from time to time, but who might also want to go around corners.
In that respect, this Challenger is … well, challenging. In Track mode, you have to engage launch control or you’ll lose the back end immediately. Like the 755-horsepower Corvette ZR1, you instinctively dial back your ambitions, which ends up curtailing much of the horsepower. Which is OK, because you can have lots of fun surging the tachometer and listening to the supercharger spool up, again and again. The sweet symphony of a big Hemi remains something special in the automotive world.
I’ve driven the over-muscled Mustangs and Camaros that are the Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody’s natural rivals, and as with other Dodges, I’ve found that the Challenger is very much its own animal. It’s the most overtly obnoxious of the group, but it also does a fine job of harboring its tech without undermining its stonking premise.
In other words, it makes no compromises to 21st-century life. Except that it does, converting those compromises into something innovative: controlled fury, most of the time.
That’s pretty unique, and an obvious selling point. So if you’re in the market for a dinosaur that’s evolved, the Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody could be your beast.
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