As the supercharger whine pierces my ears and the rear wheels struggle to latch onto the road, I'm left to wonder whether the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat really needed any more power. Dodge exists in a wacky, alternative universe where gasoline is more plentiful than air and no amount of power is ever enough. That's why the brand increased the Charger Hellcat's output beyond its already outrageous figures.
The 6.2-liter supercharged V8 now pumps out 717 horsepower as-standard, and if that's not bonkers enough, the Redeye version dials this figure to 797 hp. In other words, Dodge has created the fastest and most powerful production sedan in the world, capable of traveling at a top speed of 203 mph. That's the kind of bragging rights that can humble a BMW M5. Is it the most refined experience on the market? No. But try finding almost 800 hp from another brand for less than six-figures. You can't. There's nothing else on the market quite like the 2021 Charger Hellcat, and after spending a week with the new Redeye variant, we hope Dodge never submits to the status quo.
For 2021, the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat range is bolstered by the addition of an all-new model - the Redeye Widebody. The Redeye takes upgrades from a Challenger Demon and punts a whopping 797 hp and 707 lb-ft of torque towards the rear wheels. You can tell this model apart from the "regular" Hellcat thanks to its Redeye fender badges, lightweight wheels, and, under the hood, its open-air intake with a power chiller. This results in a car that can do 203 mph flat out and cross the quarter-mile in just 10.6 seconds, making it the fastest and most powerful four-door production muscle car on the planet. Don't want a Redeye? Well, even in standard form the Hellcat is terrifying and has a newly-minted power rating of 717 hp for the new year, up from 707 in 2020.
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There is no angle from which the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat does not look menacing. Those wide arches house 20-inch wheels with a width of 11 inches, while a C-shaped accent across the profile gives the car a hunkered-down look. HID headlights with LED running lights look menacing as they frame a full-width grille with a secondary intake vent. The hood is a bulging piece of metal with a large scoop too, and at the rear, a trunk spoiler, bumper vents, and a dual-exit exhaust system finished inside a faux diffuser give the car more presence. A sunroof is optional though.
This is a pretty large sedan, with dimensions measuring 201 inches for the length and 78.3 for the width, Its height measures 57.6 inches while the wheelbase is rated at 120 inches. Despite not being offered with AWD, this is a heavy car. The Hellcat version tips the scales at 4,595 pounds, while the Redeye has a base curb weight of 4,610 lbs.
As standard, you get a choice of 13 exterior paint colors, all of which are available at no added charge. Dodge offers one of the most diverse color pallets on the market, including Pitch Black, Hellraisin, Granite, Smoke Show, Triple Nickel, Indigo Blue, Frostbite, Octane Red, TorRed, Go Mango, Sinamon Stick, F8 Green, and White Knuckle. The brake calipers are finished in red as standard too, but you can get Black, Gunmetal, or Orange for $595. You can also add stripes to the car at a cost of $995, with options here listed as Carbon, Silver, Blue, Gunmetal, and Red. You can also paint the hood satin black for $1,995, or do the hood, roof, trunk, and spoiler in satin black for $3,495. Alternatively, you can paint just the roof in gloss black for $1,500.
The newest version of the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is also the most powerful. The Redeye is powered by the Challenger Demon's 6.2-liter supercharged V8 that develops an astonishing 797 hp and 707 lb-ft of torque. With the right driver and ideal conditions, the Redeye Widebody is capable of doing the sprint from 0-60 mph in just 3.6 seconds. The quarter-mile is dispatched in only 10.6 seconds with a trap speed of 129 mph - and that's quick for any car, let alone a four-door with 4,600 pounds of weight. Keep the loud pedal buried into the firewall and it'll hit a top speed of 203 mph. But don't think that the regular Hellcat Widebody is slow. It too can hit 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, although the quarter-mile time is a little higher at 10.96 seconds and the exit speed is a little lower at 125 mph. It's pretty good flat out too, managing a top speed of 196 mph. That's because it has a similar motor to the Redeye, but with 717 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque and no 'Power Chiller'. In case you're wondering, the Power Chiller sprays refrigerated gas into the intake for denser air, more power, and greater consistency over multiple runs.
The "base" version of the Hellcat is powered by a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 developing 717 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, all of which is sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission. No manual transmission is offered on the Charger. The Redeye uses a similar powertrain but with even more power, developing 797 hp and 707 lb-ft of torque. 80 additional horses may sound like a tremendous gain, but with these astonishing power numbers, it's hard to tell the difference. The standard Hellcat could already light up its rear tires at a moment's notice, so the Redeye upgrades don't yield much real-world performance improvements. In either guise, the Hemi V8 delivers a rumble at low revs, accompanied by a loud supercharger whine with any dosage of the throttle.
Dodge's eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic is not the quickest transmission on the market, but it suits the character of the Hellcat perfectly. In its street setting, the shifts feel smooth and nondisruptive. The sport setting allows the transmission to hold gears longer and execute changes with a focus on speed over smoothness. The transmission's track setting is the most transformative, disregarding comfort completely in favor of razor-sharp shifts that shake the entire car.
As we expected, the addition of 80 extra horsepower on the Redeye model hasn't overhauled the Hellcat's driving experience. It's still manic as before, with a soft side that will come in handy when drivers just want to relax and cruise along. The Charger may have old underpinnings, but the Bilstein three-mode Adaptive Damping Competition suspension does a fabulous job absorbing road imperfections in its street mode. The sport and track modes for the suspension stiffen up the car quite a bit, but it never feels too jostling. It's impossible to completely drown out the racket of the supercharged V8, but the Charger's cabin is surprisingly well insulated from road noise.
Extracting the best performance from the Hellcat (especially the Redeye) requires a careful foot, but if you can manage the wheel spin, the car is very capable around corners. The Widebody upgrades accommodate 305/35ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero performance tires, helping to keep the car more planted to the road. Of course, even the wide rubber can quickly be turned into smoke with too much throttle input and the Hellcat can go veering off the road with little provocation. All-wheel-drive would be a useful addition here. This is best described as a car that needs to be driven cautiously in anything other than perfect conditions, which suits a certain buyer. At least Dodge includes massive Brembo brakes with six-piston calipers in the front and four-piston in the rear, which do an admirable job bringing over 700 horsepower to an abrupt halt.
Both the regular Hellcat and the Redeye version achieve the same gas mileage figures according to the EPA. The official rating is 12/21/15 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles, and thanks to an 18.5-gallon gas tank, the estimated range on a full tank with mixed driving is around 277 miles. We averaged around 14 mpg during the week, and even in a hypermiling attempt with the eco mode turned on, we struggled to hit more than 21 mpg. This sounds pretty appalling, but consider that the BMW M5, which produces less power, only manages figures of 15/21/17 mpg on the same cycles. It's not so bad now, right?
For some reason, the 2021 Dodge Challenger doesn't get FCA's new Uconnect 5 infotainment system. Instead, you're stuck with the old Uconnect 4C system with its 8.4-inch touchscreen display surrounded by a massive bezel. Navigation is an optional upgrade, but you do get things like a WiFi hotspot and voice control. Other nice amenities that the cabin offers as standard include heated and ventilated power front seats, push-button ignition, and dual-zone automatic climate control. Despite plenty of leather as standard and the availability of Alcantara, the Charger's cabin looks dated and cheap in many areas.
Though the Charger Hellcat packs supercar-level horsepower and a 203 mph top speed, there is still plenty of room for five passengers. Front-seat occupants rest in cushy yet bolstered sport seats with 41.8 inches of legroom and 38.6 inches of headroom. Likewise, the rear seats are cushy like a sofa, providing plenty of comfort for passengers. The rear accommodations are generous for a sedan with 40.1 inches of legroom, though headroom is slightly limited at 36.6 inches. For all intents and purposes, the Charger Hellcat makes for a nice road trip car for four passengers, as a fifth would be cramped in the rear middle seat. The Charger offers plenty of interior volume but small window openings can make the cabin feel more cramped than the dimensions would suggest.
Much like the exterior, there are many ways to customize the Charger Hellcat's interior. The seats come finished in Laguna leather as standard, with black, Sepia (brown), and Demonic Red color options. A mix of leather and Alcantara is also available with a matching Alcantara steering wheel, but only finished in black. Buyers who wish to add a splash of color without going for the full red interior can opt for red seat belts. The standard trim is a metal finish but real carbon fiber is also available along with an Alcantara headliner.
According to Dodge, the Charger's trunk offers 16.5 cubic feet of volume. If that doesn't seem like much, consider that the Mustang GT only offers 9.1 cubes. Granted, that's a smaller muscle coupe, and a similarly-sized BMW M5 provides 18.7 cubic feet. In the Charger, you have enough space to pack carry-on luggage for four with ease, making it one of the most practical performance sedans on the market.
In the cabin, the first row gets a pair of cupholders, which are illuminated, presumably so that you can find your Slurpee with ease. Unfortunately, rear-seat passengers do not receive dedicated cupholders, only bottle holders in the doors. Up front, there's also a spot ahead of the gear lever for your phone, long but shallow door pockets with drinks bottle recesses, center armrest storage, and a glovebox.
As standard, every version of the SRT Hellcat comes with heated wing mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, launch control, line lock, cruise control, rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, hill start assist, adaptive dampers, an active exhaust, remote start, keyless entry with push-button ignition, a rearview camera, and a power trunk release. Optionally available is a sunroof, but no other options are offered, and there are no advanced safety features like adaptive cruise control.
Though the Durango received a complete interior refresh with FCA's new Uconnect5 infotainment system, all Charger models persist with the old Uconnect4 unit, which lives on an 8.4-inch touchscreen. There's nothing wrong with this system, but it feels like going back to an old iPhone after switching to the new model. The 8.4-inch touchscreen is plenty large enough, but it's surrounded by massive bezels that mask its size. At least the screen packs Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and optional navigation. The Hellcat also gets plenty of cool SRT screens with performance readouts. Even the optional 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system is powerless to overcome the engine's roar. Dodge wants owners to enjoy a Hemi-powered soundtrack over all other media.
Thus far, the 2021 Dodge Charger has not yet suffered any recalls. The 2020 model was similarly reliable, with only police pursuit vehicles suffering one recall pertaining to their stealth mode disabling the rearview camera display.
In terms of warranty coverage, Dodge offers the Charger SRT Hellcat with a limited warranty for three years/36,000 miles and a powertrain warranty for five years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. No complimentary scheduled maintenance is offered.
The NHTSA has conducted crash tests on the 2021 Charger and come away impressed, as evidenced by an overall rating of five stars. Over at the IIHS, the overall rating was also the best possible: Good. However, the small front overlap test on the driver's side achieved a rating of Marginal.
As standard, every version of the SRT Hellcat comes with a rearview camera and frontal, side-impact, and rollover airbags. You also get blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors, and a tire pressure monitoring system. However, advanced safety features like forward collision detection with automatic emergency braking are not offered. Bottom line? Don't bin it.
The 2021 Dodge Charger Hellcat proves that adding more power is not always the solution to improving a car. The Redeye's 80 additional horsepower does little to improve the sadistic Hellcat experience, which was starting to feel played out at this point. We think Dodge could have improved the Hellcat more by adding all-wheel-drive instead of more power, as evidenced by the new Durango Hellcat. But should the outrageous Hellcat formula still tickle your fancy, the Redeye is a pretty cool trump card.
Nothing even remotely close to this price range offers 797 horsepower, making the Charger Hellcat Redeye a tremendous bargain. We are still surprised by how civil the Hellcat can be when driven respectfully, making it a better everyday cruiser than many of its two-door muscle car competitors from Chevrolet and Ford. It may not possess the accurate handling of a Camaro or Mustang, but the large back seats and trunk should prove to be more important for some buyers. The Hellcat's combination of tremendous horsepower, comfort, capability, and size, proves to be a compelling combination for muscle car lovers, but probably not conventional sedan shoppers.
The 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody starts at a base price of $69,995 before a $1,495 destination charge. The Redeye Widebody is a little pricier, starting with a base MSRP of $78,595, but this price will reach around $88,000 if you decide to make yours a fully loaded model.
For 2021, the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat range is made up of two models: Widebody and Redeye Widebody. Standard features are very similar for both models, but there are some key differences. Although both are powered by a 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8, the regular Widebody version produces 717 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, while the Redeye Widebody offers up 797 hp and 707 lb-ft. The Redeye also features unique badges on the fenders, lightweight wheels, an open-air intake system with a Power Chiller, and a speedo that reads to 220 mph. The regular Hellcat, on the other hand, sees its speedo stop at 200 mph.
Both models ride on 20-inch wheels and have heated and ventilated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a heated steering wheel, rear parking sensors, launch control with line lock, adaptive dampers, an active exhaust system, and an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment display. Options include a sunroof, navigation, and a 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.
Three packages are offered with both variants of the Charger SRT Hellcat. The first is the Carbon/Suede Interior package, which adds real carbon fiber accents and a suede headliner for $1,595. The Alcantara Interior package costs a little less at $995 and gives you Alcantara and Laguna leather upholstery on the seats along with a steering wheel wrapped in Alcantara. Finally, the Navigation & Travel Group package includes SiriusXM traffic update and Travel Link along with navigation, also for $995. A power sunroof is a standalone option at $1,995, the same price you'll pay for the available 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio upgrade.
Dodge only sells the Charger Hellcat as a Widebody, now in standard and Redeye guises. After driving both a few months apart, we think the standard Hellcat is perfectly bonkers, so you should save $8,600 by not opting for the Redeye. The differences are just too subtle to justify spending so much on a car that offers such little real-world performance gains. None of the Hellcat's optional extras seem like must-haves to us. The Harman Kardon audio was too quiet, the carbon fiber trim looks tacky, we prefer the full leather interior to the Alcantara, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay defeat the need for built-in navigation. We'd be comfortable taking a base model as it sits.
The BMW M5 may seem like an unfair comparison since it's a much more luxurious and advanced machine with a six-figure price tag (over $102,000 for the base version). However, its 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 only produces as much as 617 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. Compared to the Hellcat's minimum output of 717 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, the M5 is outgunned. However, the M5 offers far more in the way of convenience and safety features, and thanks to its switchable all-wheel-drive system, it can be used almost anywhere, anytime. In addition, it's lighter than the Charger despite that AWD system. That means it'll win a race between the lights, since it can do the sprint to 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds. On top, the Charger will pass it, but the M5 remains impressive. Still, for the money, the space, and the comfort, the Charger SRT Hellcat remains a bargain. If you want bang for your buck, buy American.
Like the Charger, the Challenger is offered in Hellcat Redeye Widebody form. It too has a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 producing 797 hp and 707 lb-ft of torque. If you don't need rear seats, this is a highly attractive option. It has 16.2 cubic feet of volume in the trunk, only slightly less than the Charger's 16.5-cubic foot trunk can manage. But the biggest reason to think about the Challenger over the Charger is the price. While the cheapest Charger Hellcat starts at a tick under $70,000, the Challenger's own Hellcat variants are considerably more affordable with a base price of under $60,000, while even the like-for-like Widebody is $5,000 cheaper. Standard features are similar too, so unless you really need the space for four or five adults, we'd opt for the Challenger version.
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