Despite the Challenger having been around for more than a decade in its current form, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat lives on to spite the ever-tightening legislation surrounding vehicle emissions. But while rivals like the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 sacrifice outright power for the ability to corner and lap tracks with grace and pace, the Hellcat eschews these traits in favor of traditional muscle car allure. In Redeye form, it's a 797-horsepower, straight-line-smashing, tire-smoking monster of a machine that has recorded 0-60 mph sprints as quick as 3.5 seconds, leaving drag strip crowds in awe to the soundtrack of a shrieking 6.2-liter supercharged V8. Sure, it might not have the handling prowess of the modern muscle car, and yes, it laughs in the face of global warming, but a spacious cabin, massive trunk, and old-school kind of muscle car charm are hard to ignore. We could say they don't make 'em like this anymore, but Dodge does, and we couldn't be more grateful.
While changes are minimal for 2020, Dodge hasn't left the Challenger SRT entirely untouched. New 20-inch wheels are standard, while special "Warpspeed" wheels with a low gloss Granite finish are available on Widebody models, while the non-Widebody models also get a new wheel design. Three new paint colors - Frostbite, Hellraisin, and Sinamon Stick - have been added to the palette, while models with a leather interior get premium stitching on the dashboard and upper door panels. Carbon fiber bezels (bundled with the Dynamica suede headliner) is an option on all models, and new badges for the instrument panel have been added, too.
While the Challenger's blocky proportions are a reminder of its age, they're also part of its appeal. It's not trying to compete with much more modern German coupes for glitzy appeal; rather, it looks planted, aggressive, and suitably intimidating in your rearview mirror, exactly as a muscle car should. All SRTs get a Black SRT grille, bi-functional headlights with quad halo LED surrounds, LED daytime running lamps, a dual-snorkel hood, a Satin Black rear spoiler, and 20-inch alloy wheels. The Widebody Package adds those distinctive fender flares and a Widebody competition suspension - it makes the regular models look almost weedy by comparison.
All Challenger SRTs share the same 116-inch wheelbase and width (including the side mirrors) of 85.4 inches. However, from there they differ between the regular models and the Widebody versions. The standard model is 197.5 inches long, 57.2 inches in height, and 75.7 inches wide with the mirrors excluded. The SRT Hellcat Widebody is 57.5 inches in height and 78.3 inches wide excluding the side mirrors. Ground clearance is 4.5 inches. Curb weight ranges from 4,378 pounds (for the SRT Hellcat in manual guise and without a rear seat) to 4,492 lbs for the SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody.
A total of 12 exterior colors are available for the SRT Hellcat. Instead of a sea of blacks and greys, the Dodge gets several brash shades that suit the car's persona to a tee. Along with the three new shades (Frostbite, Hellraisin, and Sinamon Stick - at the time of writing, the latter shade wasn't yet available on the Challenger's online configurator and Hellraisin isn't available on the standard SRT Widebody), there are also audacious shades like TorRed, Go Mango, IndiGo Blue, and Octane Red. For the more stealthy look, there is Pitch Black, Granite, and Triple Nickel. Rounding out the palette is F8 Green and White Nuckle. Moving up in the range introduces minor changes to the color palette, with the SRT Hellcat Widebody only having access to ten shades. No color requires an extra charge, but the car's high level of customization means you can add racing stripes in colors like Gunmetal and Blue for an added cost.
A pair of powerful supercharged V8 engines provide the SRT Hellcat with blistering performance. In the SRT Hellcat, the 6.2-liter unit provides 717 hp and 656 lb-ft of torque, while the SRT Hellcat Redeye has an even wilder 797 hp and 707 lb-ft at its disposal. While lesser Challengers have available all-wheel drive, these V8 monsters send all of their power to the rear wheels exclusively. It means that traction can be an issue when trying to get the SRT Hellcat off the line effectively, but independent tests have shown that it's possible to get the Redeye to 60 mph in around 3.7 seconds, with the quarter-mile coming up in under 12 seconds. Dodge claims a top speed of 203 mph for the Redeye. Ford claims a 3.3-second 0-60 sprint for the Mustang Shelby GT500, while the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 coupe is in similar territory. With all of these cars, the driver's talent could determine which one gets its nose in front from a standstill, although the quality of the surface you launch from is likely to play just as much of a role. Make no mistake, though - the SRT Hellcat is extremely quick.
A supercharged HEMI 6.2-liter V8 engine does duty in every SRT Hellcat-badged Challenger, but in different states of tune. In the regular SRT Hellcat, peak outputs are 717 hp and 656 lb-ft of torque, paired with either a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic. The SRT Hellcat Redeye has towering outputs of 797 hp and 707 lb-ft, although it's only available with an eight-speed automatic.
In both cars, a spine-tingling supercharger whine accompanies aggressive use of the loud pedal and it's punctuated by savage acceleration. While traction can be an issue off the line, there's nothing stopping the SRT Hellcat once it's on the move - overtaking power is extreme. The manual model (not available for the Redeye) is obviously more involving, but choose the automatic for the quickest sprint times. It'll fade into the background at a cruise, but stabbing the throttle will see the auto 'box quickly shift into a lower gear and push you back into your seat as the V8 howls. It's senseless but absolutely addictive fun.
The Challenger's weight dictates much of what it does - and doesn't - do well on the road. On the plus side, for a sports car with this much power and scenery-blurring speed, the SRT Hellcat is surprisingly comfortable and supple. This car is a joy on the open road where there is enough space to easily accommodate its significant size. Together with the comfortable seats, it's a car you can live with every day. Only more confined spaces in town will frustrate as the coupe does begin to feel its size.
Through more acute bends, you quickly realize that the word "nimble" isn't part of the Challenger's vocabulary. It feels as big and as heavy as it is when you try to hustle it, while body roll isn't as well-contained as in rivals like the Mustang and Camaro. The Widebody is a bit better thanks to its broader tires and its greater composure at higher speeds, but it can't quite overcome the Challenger's heft. And yet, somehow, the SRT Hellcat's flaws add to its charm - the lack of grip, the prodigious power, and the rather unpredictable body movements combine to create a muscle car that has surprises up its sleeve at every turn. You won't like all of those surprises, but unlike some meticulously-honed sports cars that could be described as clinical, there is zero risk of dozing off behind the wheel of the Hellcat, despite the rather numb steering.
Stopping power is ample thanks to the Brembo braking system with six-piston front calipers and four-piston calipers at the back.
Driven with restraint on the highway, the SRT Hellcat returns an acceptable 22 mpg when equipped with the automatic transmission. However, it's more likely that most owners will be making use of the available power more often, so the EPA's figures of 13/22/16 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles is more realistic. The manual variant has a slightly inferior highway figure of 21 mpg. The least fuel-efficient version is the Widebody in automatic guise, which is estimated to return 13/21/15 mpg. With an 18.5-gallon gas tank, expect to get a combined cruising range of just under 300 miles from every model except the Widebody automatic, which should manage about 277 miles. A gas guzzler tax of $1,700 applies to all SRT Hellcats, as it should.
A highlight of the Challenger's interior is its genuine ability to seat adults in the rear, dramatically increasing its versatility as a daily driver and not just a weekend toy. That said, the cabin isn't as modern or stylish as some rivals' interiors. It feels tailored for the driver, though, with the excellent infotainment screen and other central switches gently angled towards the driver and a sporty steering wheel. It's also a pleasantly quiet cabin, besides the welcome sound of that V8, of course. All models have standard gear like dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and the 8.4-inch touchscreen that forms the basis of the Uconnect 4C infotainment system. A ParkSense rear park assist system also helps to overcome some of the Challenger's visibility issues.
The Challenger's ability to seat five passengers in decent comfort is one of the coupe's strong points. In fact, it's one of the best in the segment thanks to adequate headroom and legroom. The rear seat isn't some afterthought, either, with seating for three adults possible, as long as they aren't all of a larger frame. Seating comfort is also better than most in this class, with the SRT Hellcat getting attractive Houndstooth performance cloth. The driving position has an acceptable range of adjustment. Although we appreciate that the big doors open widely, improving ingress and egress, their size and weight can also be a hassle in tight spaces. Outward visibility isn't great as there are large blind spots, so we recommend the optional blind spot monitoring as a worthwhile add-on. If you are more concerned with a lighter weight than carting all your friends around, Dodge will optionally remove the rear seat entirely.
On the base SRT Hellcat, Houndstooth-upholstered seats in black are standard fare, along with Hellcat logos. Laguna leather seats are optionally available as part of the Laguna Leather Package, but adding this option automatically includes the Plus Package (adding a premium-stitched dashboard and door panels) and the Driver Convenience group for a hefty total of nearly $5,000. Color choices for this upgrade are Black, Sepia, and Demonic Red. Other choices are black Nappa leather/Alcantara seats or black Alcantara/Laguna leather seats. The Carbon and Suede Interior Package adds carbon fiber accents along with a suede headliner.
The Challenger's 16.2 cubic feet of trunk space is commendable in a high-performance coupe and is on par with some traditional midsize sedans. The majority of competitors don't come close, with the Camaro's 9.1 cubes being an example. So, there'll be no problems with accommodating the weekly shop or around six carry-on cases. In the cabin, small items can be stowed in the large center console compartment but the door pockets are on the small side. Two cupholders are situated behind the gear shift lever, which can be a bit inconvenient in models equipped with the manual transmission. In models equipped with the rear seat, these can be folded down to increase storage, while the rear seat deletion option replaces the rear compartment with a large cargo net.
The SRT Hellcat is well-equipped with features like dual-zone automatic climate control (including ventilation outlets at the back), illuminated front cupholders, a reconfigurable digital gauge cluster, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, a universal garage door opener, a heated steering wheel, and a manual tilt/telescoping-adjustable steering column. On the safety front, Dodge has equipped the SRT Hellcat with hill start assist, a rearview camera, the ParkSense rear parking assist system, and a tire pressure monitoring system. On the options list are features like a power sunroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and ventilated front seats, along with driver aids like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-path detection.
Despite the Challenger's age, the infotainment system goes a long way to making the coupe feel fresher than its years. The 8.4-inch touchscreen forms part of the Uconnect 4C infotainment system which is one of the most user-friendly setups available - a major bonus in a performance car that requires pretty high concentration levels from the driver. The system boasts standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, CD/DVD/MP3 compatibility, SiriusXM with a one-year trial subscription, Bluetooth streaming audio, an audio input jack, and two USB ports. Navigation is optionally available. Audio is channeled via a sound system that has six Alpine speakers, but an 18-speaker Harman Kardon sound system is available.
The 2020 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat holds a strong J.D. Power rating of 80 out of a maximum 100, a number that is backed up by the fact that zero recalls have so far been issued for this year's model. However, last year, two recalls were issued: one was for driver warnings which could fail to illuminate in the instrument cluster, and another was for a front wheel/brake package that could lead to tire damage and a sudden loss of pressure.
If anything does go awry, Dodge covers the Challenger with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, and corrosion perforation coverage for five years with unlimited miles. Roadside assistance is provided for five years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first.
While the NHTSA hasn't provided an overall safety rating for the 2020 Dodge Challenger, the coupe was rated four stars (out of five) for the frontal crash and four stars for the rollover test. However, the IIHS' findings do point towards the Challenger's older design - while it achieved a Good rating for the moderate overlap front and side crash tests, it was rated only Marginal for the small overlap front: driver-side test, along with Acceptable ratings for roof strength and the head restraints/seats.
Every SRT Hellcat is equipped with six airbags (dual front, side-curtain, and front seat-mounted side airbags), brake assist, electronic stability control, hill-start assist, a rearview camera, the ParkSense rear park assist system, rain brake support, ready alert braking, and tire pressure monitoring.
It's not quite as impressive for standard modern driver-assist technologies, though. Forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-path detection are optional, but the likes of lane departure warning isn't available at all. Adaptive cruise control is available, but not on Redeye variants.
For better or worse, the Challenger SRT Hellcat adheres faithfully to the muscle car brief. In a straight line, it's an absolute riot, with smoky burnouts available on demand and, when those tires actually connect with the asphalt, epic acceleration. Its bulging body and boisterous supercharged engine ensure that you'll get noticed wherever you go. Added to these talents are the Challenger's large cabin, the accommodating trunk, a brilliant infotainment system, and a surprisingly compliant ride. It really only starts to lose out to the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro when the road gets twisty; here, the Challenger starts feeling out of its element, hampered by its sheer bulk. The Challenger also doesn't have the best safety scores, a sign of the coupe's age. But it's a car that never stops entertaining - this "Hellcat" easily lives up to its name.
The base Challenger SRT Hellcat starts at an MSRP of $58,995, but that's before adding tax, licensing, and registration costs, along with a gas guzzler tax of $1,700 and a destination charge of $1,495. Next is the SRT Hellcat Widebody at $64,995, the more powerful SRT Hellcat Redeye at $70,595, and finally, the SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody at $76,595.
The 2020 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is available in four trims: the SRT Hellcat, the SRT Hellcat Widebody, the SRT Hellcat Redeye, and the SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody. All models are fitted with a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine, but the Redeye versions have increased outputs of 797 hp and 707 lb-ft of torque (other models are tuned to generate 717 hp and 656 lb-ft). While rear-wheel drive is standard, a six-speed manual transmission is restricted to the non-Redeye versions, with an eight-speed auto being available. Both Redeye models exclusively use the eight-speed automatic gearbox.
The base SRT Hellcat has 20-inch alloy wheels, a Satin Black rear spoiler, a dual-snorkel hood, quad halo headlamps with LED surrounds, and a Competition suspension. Inside, the 8.4-inch touchscreen can be used to control Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth audio streaming, and the six-speaker audio system. Other amenities include a six-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, rear parking assistance, and a rearview camera.
Moving up to the SRT Hellcat Widebody introduces a Track Mode for the adaptive damping suspension, a body that's wider by 3.5 inches (with flared fenders), 20-inch low gloss black alloy wheels, and a performance shift indicator.
The SRT Hellcat Redeye is only available with an automatic gearbox and has the more powerful supercharged engine. This model also adds a 220-mph primary speedometer and a 2.62 axle ratio. Adaptive cruise control is not available on this variant.
The SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody shares the regular Redeye's specification but has a wider, more aggressive body and bigger tires.
On the SRT Hellcat, the Technology Group costs $495 and adds, among other items, forward collision warning, adaptive speed control, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. The Driver Convenience Group goes for $1,295 and equips blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic detection, and high-intensity discharge headlamps. Three seating packages cost between $1,795 and $1,895 each and replace the standard seats with either Laguna leather, Alcantara/Laguna leather, or Nappa/Alcantara in the case of the Plus Package (also adds a power-adjustable steering column). The Carbon and Suede Interior Package costs $1,595 and adds carbon fiber trim and a suede headliner.
Standalone options include the Uconnect 4C NAV infotainment system with navigation ($795), the Harman Kardon sound system ($1,595), a power sunroof ($1,995), and exterior color stripes ($995). For just $1, the rear seat can be deleted and replaced with a cargo net.
The Redeye models share similar options but the Technology Group costs $1,295.
Because the Challenger SRT struggles to manage its incredible power output off the mark, the SRT Hellcat (with 717 hp) is more than enough power and provides nearly the same thrills as the Redeye. In Widebody guise, the SRT Hellcat is over $10,000 cheaper than the Redeye Widebody but adds the flared bodywork that dramatically enhances the Hellcat's personality, while also adding wider wheels for a bit more grip. We'd spec ours in Octane Red paint and add dual silver stripes, the Driver Convenience Group, and the Plus Package for a total of $72,375 (including gas guzzler tax and the destination charge).
With 760 horsepower from its 5.2-liter supercharged V8, the GT500's peak output sits right between the SRT Hellcat and SRT Hellcat Redeye. Ford claims that the GT500 will do 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds, just marginally quicker than the SRT Redeye - both cars are exceptionally fast, though, as long as you can get them off the line smoothly. The latest GT500 isn't just quick, it's also adept through the corners and more poised than the larger and rather clumsy Challenger. Ford's latest dual-clutch transmission is also super slick and this, together with the GT500's better handling, making it the better driver's car. The Challenger wins back points in the cabin because its seats are more comfortable, it has far more space for rear passengers, and the trunk is larger. The GT500 is slightly cheaper than the Hellcat Widebody Redeye, while the regular Redeye is a super close match on price. Both cars do their legendary badges proud - by a whisker, we'd side with the Ford for its better handling characteristics.
Similarly to the Ford Mustang Shelby, the Camaro isn't as practical as the Challenger: the Chevy has a much tinier trunk (9.1 cubic feet to the Challenger's 16.2), less space in the back, and is an absolute nightmare to see out of clearly. The Camaro ZL1 is a special machine from a performance perspective, though, and despite making "only" 650 horsepower, it's pretty much a match for the more powerful Hellcat. An available track package ensures that the ZL1 is the better track tool by far, yet it maintains a comfortable ride. The Challenger is still the better cruiser and has a more comfortable rear seat, though. If carrying passengers around is important to you, the SRT Hellcat is the more versatile car, but if you think precise handling should be part and parcel of a modern muscle car, then go for the Camaro ZL1 Coupe, instead.