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.
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.
See trim levels and configurations:
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.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
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.
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.
Check out some informative Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat video reviews below.