2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat First Drive Review: A Redeye Riot

First Drive / Comments

The Redeye makes the Hellcat even madder.

Few cars exude madness like the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. Last year's model was wild enough, packing 707 horsepower from a supercharged Hemi-V8 and 717 hp in the Daytona Edition. No one in their right mind would say the Charger needs more power, yet that didn't stop Dodge engineers for making the car more extreme for 2021. The new standard horsepower is now 717 hp and Dodge has now brought over the Redeye version that was first introduced on the two-door Challenger.

At its most extreme, the Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye produces a tire-shredding 797 hp, which is more than you get from most mid-engined supercars these days. To find out how 90 additional horses have improved the four-door Hellcat, Dodge flew us out to North Carolina to drive it on the race track. Unfortunately, it rained the entire time, allowing us to flirt with death in a nearly 800-hp rear-wheel-drive muscle car.

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Dodge
Dodge

Exterior Design: Shades Of Aggression

All 2021 Charger Hellcat models feature the widebody kit, accommodating 20-by-11-inch wheels wrapped in 305/35ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero performance tires. Dodge offers four different wheel designs for the Hellcat, so there's bound to be a style for everyone. The exterior looks just as aggressive as before, with subtle red jewels in the Hellcat emblems hinting that the Redeye has a bit more juice than other models without shouting about it.

Dodge is king when it comes to exterior color options, and the 2021 Charger Hellcat is no exception. The color pallet includes some wild selections, including some of our favorites like Hellraisin (purple), IndiGo Blue, Go Mango (orange), F8 Green, and others. With a black satin hood, racing stripes, and different wheel colors, it's easy to craft a unique Hellcat. It's also worth noting that all Hellcat models receive a new performance hood with more functional vents to help cool the engine.

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Engine, Performance, & MPG: More Power, New Toys

All Charger Hellcat models employ a 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi-V8 engine, with 717 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission. In the Redeye, output jumps to 797 hp and 707 lb-ft of torque with a larger supercharger, strengthened connecting rods and pistons, a high-speed valve train, a new fuel injection system, and an improved lubrication system. To deal with the added muscle, Dodge upgraded the torque converter in the transmission.

With an extra 90 hp, the Redeye takes just 3.6 seconds to hit 60 mph and cracks the double century barrier with a 203-mph top speed. Drag strips beware because the Redeye can complete the quarter-mile in just 10.6 seconds at 129 mph right out of the box.

As before, the Hellcat includes a slew of performance goodies, including SRT Drive Modes, Launch Control, Launch Assist, and Line Lock. The 2021 model adds Torque Reserve, which closes a bypass valve to prefill the supercharger for an additional torque burst; and Race Cooldown that uses the A/C system to cool the engine. Any questions on fuel economy? Look elsewhere.

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Dodge

Interior Design: Nothing New To Report

Other FCA vehicles like the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Pacifica received major interior updates for the 2021 model year, including a new Uconnect5 infotainment system. But Dodge didn't see fit to apply these updates to the Charger, leaving the cabin dated by comparison. There's nothing inherently wrong with the Charger's 8.4-inch Uconnect4 touchscreen, but used alongside the new system, it feels like jumping back to an iPhone 5 after trying the new iPhone 12. We hope next year's model incorporates the same cabin updates found in the Durango, both in terms of technology and materials.

As for the rest of the interior, the Hellcat seats still feel comfy even for larger folks and feature optional heating and ventilation. There are plenty of cheap plastics throughout the cabin, but with almost 800 hp at this price, Dodge had to cut corners somewhere. Dodge at least makes it up with nice leather on the seats, suede, and carbon-fiber trim. Buyers who opt for the Redeye will also spot special Hellcat logos throughout the cabin, a 220-mph speedometer, and a special splash screen.

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Dodge
Dodge
Dodge

Trunk & Cargo Space: Still Massive

The Charger is one of the last full-size sedans left on the market, and it uses every ounce of its 201-inch length in the pursuit of interior comfort. Rear legroom is a whopping 40.1 inches, meaning full-grown adults will be comfortable back there. Headroom could be a bit better than the 36.6 inches offered, but at least rear passengers receive other comforts like air vents, heated seats, and USB ports. The trunk is equally cavernous with 16.5 cubic feet, the same amount found in the midsize class's cargo leader, the Honda Accord.

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Driving Impressions: Caution When Wet

Our time in the Charger Hellcat Redeye was severely hampered by the rainy weather, both on the race track and on our drive route back to the hotel. We didn't dare explore the limits of 797 hp out on wet unfamiliar roads, but we did get to put the pedal to the metal on the racetrack. Though the Hellcat feels more suited to a drag strip than a road course, Dodge insists it can handle itself on a track with corners.

The widebody kit certainly helps to improve grip, as does the addition of SRT-tuned Bilstein three-mode adaptive damping. Even with fatter tires, we were constantly reminded that the Hellcat loves to bite if you get on the power too early. In wet conditions, driving the Redeye is mostly a lesson in managing the throttle until the corner is over, leaning in, and managing the brakes on the next bend.

Though it has more power than most supercars, the Hellcat never lets you forget that it weighs over 4,500 pounds with room for five adults. It feels hefty on the track despite all of its performance credentials.

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Dodge

Price & Trims

Pricing for the 2021 Charger Hellcat is pretty simple now that Dodge has eliminated the narrow-body option. The base Hellcat starts at $69,995, while the Redeye version commands a $78,595 price tag. We'd say the 717-hp version offers more than enough motivating force for 99% of drivers, but for those who want to go all out, the Redeye version might be worth the price for sheer bragging rights alone.

The Dodge Power Dollars program also extends into 2021, giving buyers a $10 per horsepower rebate on both models. This means the Hellcat's price is effectively shaved down by $7,170 or $7,970 in Redeye form.

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Dodge

Verdict: Over The Top Fun

The Dodge Charger Hellcat is completely over-the-top, especially in Redeye form. Most of its 800 hp is unusable out on the road unless you want to rack up speeding tickets, and good luck if it rains. Even on the race track, we'd prefer a lighter car with less weight and more balance. The sweetspot of the Charger lineup is the Scat Pack, which offers plenty of power from its 6.4-liter Hemi V8.

But putting aside the Hellcat's obvious lunacy, we can appreciate why such a car exists. Some people will never have the chance to experience the howl of an 800-horsepower Ferrari V12 and for those, Dodge provides a similar experience at a relatively attainable price. The addition of a Redeye model was not necessary by any means, but keeping with Dodge's philosophy of "you can never have too much power," it's an absolute riot.

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