by Jared Rosenholtz
As we were handed the red key to a 2020 Dodge Charger Hellcat Widebody, it hit us that anyone (with enough cash) can walk into a dealership and drive away in a car with more than 700 horsepower. No special license required. No driver training. Over 700 horsepower. Let that sink in. This tribute to '60s counterculture seems even less comprehensible during a period when environmental concerns are at the forefront. In order to meet strict environmental regulations, automakers are urged to fit their cars with smaller turbocharger engines, stop/start systems, and electric motors. Dodge didn't get the memo.
The now-ubiquitous Hellcat models were released back in 2015 and their reputation as tire-shredding monsters has only grown stronger since. To help tame the Charger Hellcat, while also making it more aggressive, a Widebody model has replaced the base Hellcat, allowing for larger tires to fit within those puffed out fenders. With the wider rubber, the Hellcat can put down its massive power with a bit more confidence but don't worry, it still rips a smokey burnout with ease. Dodge has also introduced a Daytona 50th Anniversary Edition to commemorate the 1969 Charger Daytona completing the first 200 mph lap in Nascar. We were lucky enough to test one of the Daytona Edition cars (number 000 out of 501) for a week to see if this specialized model can live up to the hype.
The seventh-generation Dodge Charger has been around for close to a decade and the profile of the Charger has become a well-known one on America's roads, partially due to their use as police interceptors. To mix things up for 2020, Dodge decided to widen the Charger SRT Hellcat with a Demon-inspired widebody kit that sees the fenders being stretched out further than an eighteen-year-old metalcore fan's earlobes, accompanied by a number of suspension improvements in the form of Bilstein dampers with three-mode adaptive damping, as well as wider wheels and tires. This combination of upgrades helps the 2020 Charger Hellcat corner better than ever before and goes a long way to keep the aging seventh-gen platform relevant. A Daytona 50th Anniversary Edition is also new for 2020, adding unique colors, badging, interior trim, and a small horsepower bump.
6.2-liter Supercharged V8 Gas
We've loved the bold and brash look of the Charger Hellcat ever since it reared its brutish face back in 2015, and for 2020, Dodge has managed to make it look even more muscular than before, thanks to a new widened front and rear fascia with integrated fender flares. The vented hood with heat extractors and large grille with gaping air intakes remains unchanged. The end product looks like something you'd find on the set of the new Mad Max movie. So while Dodge has managed to keep things fresh and exciting by widening and beefing up the exterior, you still get the same standard features on the outside which include exterior details such as HID projector headlamps with LED daytime running lights, dual rear exhausts, power heated side mirrors, and 20-inch alloy wheels. We love the Charger Hellcat for being unashamedly brawny; its ancestors would be proud. This rings true even more so on the Daytona Edition, which features a white or blue rear stripe and unique "Warp Speed" wheels with a Satin Carbon finish.
The 2020 Charger Hellcat is a large car in body and soul; with a total length of 201 inches and an overall body width of 78.3 inches at the hips - 3.5 inches more girth than last year's non-widebody model. The SRT Hellcat stands 57.6 inches tall and rolls on a 120-inch wheelbase. Germany's legendary super saloon, the BMW M5 is a smaller car, measuring only 195.5 inches in length, and 74.9 inches in total width. Accompanying the bulky exterior dimensions of the Hellcat is a healthy curb weight of 4,586 lbs, which is around 200 pounds more than its German rival. The Charger certainly feels its size, as a muscle car should.
There's no way of hiding the fact that the Charger SRT Hellcat was built to attract attention, make lots of noise, and contribute to the eventual collapse of our ecosystem, so Dodge didn't bother offering many mature exterior paint color options. In total, there are nine colors to choose from, down from last year's 14, with Maximum Steel, Destroyer Grey, B5 Blue, Plum Crazy, and fan favorite, Sublime, all culled from the offering. The available palette now includes basics such as Pitch Black and White Knuckle. Granite and Triple Nickel are your two gray/silver options, while Octane Red and F8 Green are a tad bolder. The loudest colors on offer include the brilliant Indigo Blue, TorRed, and classic Go Mango orange. The Charger SRT Hellcat screams horsepower in any color, so you might as well flaunt it. We'd go with Indigo Blue or Granite. If you opt for the Daytona Edition, Pitch Black, Triple Nickel, and White Knuckle are available but B5 Blue is also unlocked as a special color for 2020. White Knuckle Daytona models are paired with blue badges and a blue stripe while these accents are white for the other three colors.
The term "Mutually Assured Destruction" was coined during the Cold War, and describes a situation where the use of force by one or both sides of a conflict would lead to the demise of all parties involved. The Dodge Charger Hellcat brings that same concept into the automotive world: stomping on the gas pedal will assure the destruction of the rear tires as well as passengers' ability to hold down food. The monumentally powerful, supercharged V8 that lies under the vented hood of the 2020 Charger Hellcat can best be described as a time bender; nail the perfect launch, and you'll hit a 0-60 mph sprint of 3.6 seconds and be at the end of the quarter-mile stretch in only 10.96 seconds. Keep your foot in it, and you'll soon be doing 196 mph. The best thing about these big numbers is the fact that it can be harnessed out in the real world, where the Charger SRT Hellcat loves to purr around town and feels no different to a base model V6 when puttering about. What's more impressive still, is that the Hellcat Widebody can now handle corners with a bit more composure, and with the broader tires and extra grip, Dodge claims around a 2.1-mile circuit - you'll see an improvement of 2.1 seconds a lap - or thirteen car lengths - over the 'skinny' Hellcat of last year.
The most special ingredient in the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is its 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 engine. This drivetrain is worthy of its Hellcat name with 707 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque on tap. Daytona Edition models get a small power increase to 717 hp. No manual transmission is available, meaning an eight-speed automatic transmission handles shifting duties. Trust us though, the lack of a manual transmission won't be missed when you are busy wrangling over 700 horses.
In its "Street Mode" setting, the transmission acts like most automatics, shifting smoothly into the highest gear in order to save fuel. Dodge even put in an "Eco Mode" on the engine, limiting its output to just 500 hp. In its most relaxed modes, the Hellcat does take a moment to think before unleashing its supercharged fury but once the transmission finds the right gear, it is still off to the races. "Sport Mode" helps wake up the transmission while "Track Mode" shoves an espresso down its throat. With the engine producing all 707 (or 717) hp and the transmission in track mode, shifts feel less like a gentle transition and more like a shove from a WWE wrestler. Bury the throttle with the settings dialed up, and you'll be fighting wheelspin while the whine of the supercharger assaults your eardrums.
The go-to rule for making big and bulky muscle cars handle better is to lower, widen and stiffen, and that's exactly what Dodge has done with the 2020 widebody car. Unlike muscle cars of old, that couldn't go around corners, the 2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, with its new widebody modification and matching underpinnings, can be managed around bends at speed. Dodge has fitted wider Pirelli 305/35ZR20 tires for added grip and cornering speed, as well as an upgraded two-piece front brake rotor system from Brembo, and a three-mode adaptive suspension setup from Bilstein. This translates to a car that can pull .96 g on a skid pan and drop over two seconds per lap on a two-mile track compared to the older car, according to Dodge. This all sounds great but in reality, you will still need to practice restraint on the throttle, or else the wider rear tires will still be turned into white smoke as you spin off the track.
A revised power steering system and thicker sway bars also do their bit to drop lap times and broaden smiles. The steering offers enough connection to the road without feeling numb and in its track setting, tightens up with greatly enhanced steering effort. On the road, where the Hellcat will spend most of its days, it feels relaxed and well mannered, especially when driving in the most relaxed suspension setting. The Hellcat proves to be an excellent highway cruiser or laid-back crawler around town, though it is firmer and slightly bouncier on the highway than the average family sedan. The larger alloys do invite some harshness into the cabin at lower speeds, but it's nothing worth complaining about.
Instead of handing the 2020 Charger SRT Hellcat to the EPA for fuel economy testing, Dodge should just hand you a note saying "good luck." Expecting the Dodge Charger Hellcat to be fast, big, and comfortable while still returning a respectable fuel consumption figure can be described as wishful thinking, to put it lightly. It is estimated that the Hellcat will return 12/21/15 mpg city/highway/combined when driven with severe caution, but the majority of owners will only see those numbers in a brochure, and never on the driver display. Fitted with an 18.5-gallon fuel tank, the 2020 Charger Hellcat has an estimated maximum range of 278 miles. Don't say we didn't warn you because we averaged around 10 mpg during our week of testing.
Just by looking at the figures, you'd expect the interior of the Charger Hellcat to look like something out of a Top Fuel Dragster, but you'll be pleasantly surprised to find a plush interior filled with all the modern creature comforts and luxury amenities. Even though all of the essential features are here, the Charger's interior design starts to feel more like laminate than real hardwood when you poke around at the materials; the center console design is a sea of cheap plastic and even the real carbon fiber bits somehow look unconvincing. Still, you get a good amount of standard features, making the cabin of the Charger Hellcat a comfy place to be. There are standard power-adjustable and heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity, dual-zone air conditioning, and LED interior lighting. Optional interior features include a power sunroof, red seat belts, and additional lumbar support and adjustability for front-seat occupants. The Hellcat manages to offer just enough to get a pass, but the interior quality isn't much better than you'd find on a rented V6 Charger.
Experiences are only real when shared, right? The Charger Hellcat offers enough room to seat five adults in comfort, which is perfect because scaring yourself behind the wheel gets a bit lame. Those brave enough to sit in the front are rewarded with 41.8 inches of legroom and 38.6 inches of headroom, which is more than enough space for six-foot-tall adults. In the rear, the Charger Hellcat truly impresses with a limousine-like 40.1 inches of rear legroom, although headroom becomes a bit tight at 36.6 inches - still enough for a tall adult to just about make the cut. The vast amount of interior space is complemented by a set of comfortable front seats that offer good support for fast driving, but don't disregard long-distance comfort.
The exterior of the Charger Hellcat might scream FREEDOM, but Dodge has given the driver some respite on the inside, where the material and color choices are toned down and come across as more mature and timeless. New owners can choose between three standard Laguna leather colors, namely Black, Sepia, and Demonic Red. If that's not sporty enough, you can always opt for the Alcantara package, which adds Alcantra seats, suede door panels, and an Alcantara steering wheel. Lovers of carbon fiber will be pleased to know that the Charger Hellcat can be tricked-out with carbon fiber dash and central console inserts. Opting for the Alcantara, carbon fiber, and Suede goes a long way in lifting the dated interior of the Charger Hellcat, and the exclusive Hellcat logos adds a touch of exclusivity - but it can only do so much, and certain hard plastic trim pieces can't be unseen. Daytona models like the one we tested receive blue stitching to go with black suede seats with a special plaque on the dash signifying the build number out of 501.
The Charger Hellcat offers class-leading legroom for its five passengers, and 40.1 inches of legroom in the rear is especially impressive. What this usually means is that trunk space takes a knock, but the Hellcat manages to offer around the same amount of space as a Honda Accord at 16.5 cubic feet. The trunk lid has a moderately wide opening, but there's a high liftover of 30.1 inches that has to be cleared before you get to the broad and deep trunk area. Fortunately, space can also be extended thanks to a 60/40 split-folding rear seat. The BMW M5 offers a superior 18.7 cubic feet of trunk space despite being the smaller car. Inside, small items such as drinking bottles and keys can be stored in the generously sized door pockets. The glove box is on the smaller side, as is the central storage nook; larger cell phones will have to be stowed away in the cup holder compartment. The armrest storage bin is big enough for a few cans of your favorite energy drink.
The SRT Hellcat is the most powerful and well equipped Charger on sale, so it should make sense that it comes packed with a respectable list of standard features and Hellcat-specific details that separate it from the rest of the pack. Notable exterior features include halogen projector headlamps with auto on/off feature, LED daytime running lights LED fog lights as well as keyless entry. Inside, you're greeted by comfy sport seats with eight-way adjustability on the driver's side, including four-way power lumbar support, dual-zone automatic climate control with front and rear outlets, a heated leather steering wheel, a universal garage door opener, as well as an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Nice-to-haves such as a power sunroof and lumbar adjustment for the front passenger seat come at an extra cost. Modern features like wireless phone charging are not to be found, but you do get a handful of driver assists like blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic detection, a rearview camera, rear park assist for when you need to back that ass up, and standard cruise control. The most advanced systems are not available on the Hellcat - because its very ethos goes against the purpose of what half these systems exist for.
The Uconnect infotainment system found in the 2020 Charger SRT Hellcat is an industry favorite and one of the best in its class. It's quick to respond to user inputs, and its menu layouts are simple and easy to understand. The 8.4-inch touch screen display projects color in bright clarity and looks good from both the driver and front passenger seat. Included in the infotainment package is a one-year subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio, HD radio, SiriusXM Guardian services, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration as well as Bluetooth streaming, CD/DVD/MP3 compatibility and auxiliary and USB inputs. The optional Uconnect 4C Nav system tends to spit out odd routes and can get confused in dense city centers, which is why we prefer to stick to the Android or Apple nav systems. Sound is channeled through an Alpine six-speaker sound system with a 276-Watt amplifier, which does an honest job of serenading the ears with ZZ-Top's greatest hits. We tested an example with the 19-speaker Harman Kardon system but found that it loses out in the battle to the overpower V8 roar and supercharger whine.
The NHTSA has issued seven recalls for the dodge Charger family of cars in the last two years. Most of these were issued for minor defects such as sun visor screens with missing airbag safety info labels, while some carried a bit more weight. In 2019, recalls were issued for incorrectly installed transmission park rods, which would keep the car from shifting into park mode, and cruise control units that would fail to cancel, which can get real scary, real fast. Despite these niggles, the folks over at J.D. Power still believe that the Charger Hellcat is a solid bet and gives it a score of 80 out of 100, and the 2020 edition is still recall-free. Dodge backs their Hellcat with a basic three-year/36,000-mile warranty, which includes a five-year/60,00-mile Drivetrain warranty and roadside assistance plan as well as a five-year/unlimited-mile corrosion warranty.
2020 models haven't been put through their paces by either the NHTSA or IIHS, but 2019 cars have been tested - although not in Hellcat spec. The NHTSA reported back with a positive five out of five stars for their overall rating, while the IIHS was a bit more critical, as usual, and noted that the 2019 Dodge Charger failed to impress in the headlight category, most likely due to the lack of LED headlights, and moderate front-overlap damage on the driver's side was a concern. In other tests, it scored generally Good remarks.
The list of standard safety features on the Charger Hellcat isn't as long as you'd find on other large sedans in this performance bracket, but then, the Charger costs less than half of what most of its German competitors do. Dodge has fitted a three-mode stability control system, which allows the driver to have some fun when it's safe to do so, but keeps things in check out on public roads, and there are six standard airbags to keep you and your buddies as comfortable as possible as you try to outrun the cops by smashing headlong into a tree (please, don't do either). You also get cruise control, electronic roll mitigation, hill start assist as well as a ParkView back-up camera with ParkSense rear park assistance. Basic active driver assistance tech such as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic assistance are welcomed additions.
The Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, alongside the Challenger Hellcat, has played a pivotal part in the reimagining of the great American muscle car for a new era of car enthusiasts. And with an affordable-ish asking price, it breaks many stereotypes that you need a fancy luxury car in order to stand out. The Charger Hellcat, now that it's riding on wider wheels and an improved suspension setup, is no longer a complete death trap thanks to its additional grip. The interior is spacious and comfortable, and despite not having the most cutting edge design or materials, it offers most of the amenities you'd look for in a modern performance sedan. Out on the road, the Charger Hellcat is capable of behaving itself, so you can sometimes forget that you're at the helm of a 707-hp drag racer in disguise. We like the Charger Hellcat so much because of how it makes us feel; it's unashamedly raucous and in your face, and it doesn't care if you think some fancy European car can handle better. This is American freedom incarnate and if you want a car that can be a supercar slayer and a family runabout, the Charger Hellcat is tough to beat.
The 2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody starts off with an MSRP of $69,645, which excludes a Gas Guzzler tax of $2,100 and a destination fee of $1,495. With those numbers included, you're looking at $73,240, which works out around $104 per horsepower. The 2020 BMW M5, on the other hand, only starts at $102,700, which means you'll be paying around $171 per hp. Fully-kitted, the Charger Hellcat will set you back just over $87,000. Lay your hands on one of 501 Daytona 50th Anniversary Editions, with 717 hp, and you'll have to fork over $74,140 before all the extras.
Unlike the Dodge Challenger, which is available in the even wilder Red Eye trim, the Dodge Charger tops out in Hellcat spec. The range-topping Hellcat gains most of the features found lower in the range and adds a few select features reserved exclusively for Hellcat cars. Exterior features include a set of ultra-wide 20-inch Carbon Black alloy wheels wrapped in summer sport tires, LED daytime running lights, and an optional sunroof. Inside, the seats are covered in premium Laguna leather or optional Alcantara, and bodies are cooled or heated via a dual-zone climate control system with front and rear controls. Occupants are kept entertained by a Uconnect infotainment system that features an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth streaming, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. 4G LTE Wi-Fi keeps everyone connected to the outside world. The Hellcat also includes modern safety tech such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic assistance, and rear parking assist as standard.
Dodge offers some interesting optional extras for their brutal four-door, which can be customized to look even more aggressive, or equipped with premium equipment for added comfort and convenience. On the outside, new owners can go for the $3,495 painted black satin graphics package which covers the hood and roof in black satin paint, or a set of 20-inch Warp Speed Granite wheels. Inside, the 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system is a $1,795 extra, while bolstering the infotainment with navigation will cost a further $995. Staring at the clouds through a power sunroof will cost you $1,995 extra. The Navigation and Travel Package adds SiriusXM Traffic Plus, Travel Link, and Traffic Service for $995, and the Alcantara package, which costs $995, covers the seats and steering wheel in - you guessed it - Alcantara.
For 2020, a Daytona 50th Anniversary Package is available for $4,495. This package is limited to just 501 units and includes a Daytona stripe with a lip spoiler, Carbon Satin finish wheels, unique interior trim, and an increase of 10 horsepower.
There's only one model on offer, so the only question left to ask would be what optional extras to go for. Most of the options on offer for the 2020 Charger Hellcat alter the appearance in some way, so it's mostly up to personal choice. We love the optional Daytona Edition but with many dealers charging huge markups for it, we'd have to pass on it. For those who don't mind living with constant Tinnitus, the Harman Kardon sound system with 19 speakers should be on the top of the list. We would advise against the optional navigation package; the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems do just fine. At the end of the day, you're going to be buying the Charger SRT Hellcat for that supercharged V8 engine lying under the hood, end of story.
Scat Pack cars grew out of the care-free days of the 60s, where gas was cheap, and girls across the country were still swooning over Sinatra, and any car donning the badge had to be able to complete the quarter-mile in 14 seconds or less. These days, Scat Pack cars can do it in the 12-second range, and represent some of the best deals on the market. The 2020 Charger Scat Pack offers 485 hp from its 6.4-liter V8 engine, which it sends to the rear wheels via an eight-speed auto transmission. The suspension, braking, and tire setup might not be as beefy as what you'd find in the Hellcat, but you still get eye-watering straight-line acceleration, competent handling, and a comfortable daily cruiser with all the modern amenities you could ask for. The asking price? Only $39,995. It might not have the sound of the pace of the Hellcat, but if you're after a V8 burble and a widebody kit, the Scat Pack could be a more viable option.
The BMW M5 has set the benchmark for performance sedan cars since the days when Chernobyl was still a thriving town, and has been doing so for over thirty years. The sixth-generation M5 makes use of a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine producing 600 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, which, channeled through a sporty all-wheel-drive system, enables it to sprint to sixty in the low three-second range and return 15/21/17 mpg city/highway/combined. The power difference is clear on paper, but out on the road, the M5 feels almost as fast, but delivers its power in a more linear and reserved fashion - typically German, then. On the road, the BMW feels peerless in the way it balances comfort and driver engagement, and the interior is one of the best-designed and well-built spaces we've come across in this class. It goes without saying that the features list on the M5 is far superior, as is the infotainment and standard safety equipment list. The Charger Hellcat might be more powerful, but it won't be faster than the M5 out in the real world, and it can't match its refinement, but does that really matter when it's over $30,000 cheaper?
Check out some informative Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat video reviews below.