We took the Daytona Edition of the 717-hp muscle car to Daytona to find out.
After taking receipt of one of the Daytona 50th Anniversary Edition models of the 2020 Dodge Charger Hellcat Widebody just a couple of hours away from the special edition's namesake, we knew instantly where we would take this 717-horsepower beast on a road trip: the Daytona International Speedway. Unless one of the 501 owners of this car beat us to it, this is likely the first recorded instance of a Hellcat Daytona Edition visiting the racetrack from which it gets its name. While not the longest drive, this opportunity gave us a chance to see how the Charger Hellcat performs as a road trip car.
Before we even began our rather brief sprint towards Daytona, the Hellcat required a fuel stop. Something owners are more than familiar with. The EPA rates the Charger Hellcat at 12/21 mpg city/highway, which is frankly optimistic if you enjoy burying your foot into the throttle. Driving gingerly through some of Florida's open back roads, we were able to eke out around 21 mpg from the Hellcat. But driving this car as it was intended, our economy dropped to around 10 mpg. If you are planning to take a road trip in this car, be sure to budget for fuel.
This may be a 717-hp muscle car but the Charger makes for a surprisingly livable cruiser. The suede sport seats are cushier than you will find in most sports cars and they are heated and ventilated. So long as you don't put the suspension in its race setting, the Hellcat even rides reasonably well over most road surfaces. FCA's Uconnect infotainment system is highly intuitive and includes both Apple Carplay and Android Auto, so all of the navigating and DJing on your road trip will be a cinch. However, even with the 19-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system turned up, the Hellcat's brutal exhaust note is ever-present in the cabin.
Since our road trip took place during the coronavirus pandemic, it was a solo effort. But we hope the crisis can remind people that an old fashioned drive in the family car can be an excellent bonding experience. If you do plan on taking the family on a road trip in the Hellcat, the Charger version offers plenty of space. Rear seat occupants are rewarded with a heated bench with 41.8 inches of legroom, so even adults should be comfortable back there. In the trunk, a capacious 16.5 cubic feet should hold enough space for a cross-country journey, once such a trip becomes possible again.
As we mentioned earlier, Dodge will only build 501 copies of the Charger Hellcat Daytona Edition and one has already been wrecked. A normal Hellcat is already a head-turner but when we turned up with this car in Daytona Beach, you would have thought the president was in town. The Daytona Edition is differentiated via its rear stripe, lip spoiler, satin-finish wheels, and white or blue Hellcat emblems. Our particular example was finished in a vibrant shade of B5 Blue, which is exclusive to the Daytona Edition for 2020.
Arriving in Daytona, we quickly drove around the massive Nascar Speedway looking for the ideal place to take photos. Sadly, the track was closed, so we weren't able to get inside. Had we reviewed the car prior to the outbreak, we likely could have taken some amazing shots of the Hellcat lapping the legendary oval. But with the help of a security guard at the track, who communicated with us at a safe distance from his own vehicle, we managed to find some exciting photo spots in front of the Sunoco Gate and the tunnel leading into the track.