These are the weeks you look forward to as a car reviewer, when you have a car that everybody stares at and shoots pictures of you going down the highway. Such is the case with this 2018 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody.
Dodge found itself with a bit of a problem. The Hellcat debuted in 2014, and by now, most people who wanted one have one. Plus, the 840-horse Dodge Demon is getting all the publicity. So Dodge decided to offer the $6000 Widebody option.
Essentially, Dodge added fender flares giving 3 ½ inches of width to the car, allowing for wider tires for better grip. Also new for this package is electric power steering for better handling and lighter weight, 20” wheels, a front splitter taken from the Demon, a new grill and badging, and bigger Brembo brakes, which you need.
Dodge added fender flares giving 3 ½ inches of width to the car, allowing for wider tires for better grip.
The story with the Hellcat has always been the 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 that is putting out an amazing 707-horses. My tester has the 8-speed automatic transmission, but you can get a 6-speed manual if you prefer. The 8-speed shifts great by itself or your can use the shift paddles on the steering wheel.
Suffice it to say, the Hellcat is super fast and the 305 35ZR performance tires help with traction for sure, but make no mistake, this car still cuts loose with little effort, especially when taking off in launch mode. Once it grabs the road, you’ll burn even more rubber as it shifts to 2nd gear. Be prepared to straighten it out, the rear end will come around on you. Don’t get me wrong, that is not a criticism, it adds to the overall experience, and will put a huge grin on your face.
My review vehicle color is called Go Mango, a color sure to attract our local law enforcement heroes. The exhaust sound is addictive, especially as you go from 0-to-60 in just 3.4 seconds. I can imagine it sounds great, too, as you reach the controlled top speed of 195 miles per hour.
The Hellcat is an unusually heavy car for its category, tipping the scales at 4500 pounds. Of course, the engine itself adds a lot of weight, but this is a large car, and especially now with the extra width. Even under heavy acceleration, the Hellcat engine stays cooled, thanks to the functional hood scoop, and air dams around the headlights and under the front bumper.
I love the interior quality, the leather air-conditioned and heated seats are very comfortable.
Moving to the inside, I love the interior quality, the leather air-conditioned and heated seats are very comfortable. The Hellcat comes loaded with just about everything you can imagine. The Chrysler Uconnect system is terrific as always, easy to operate, and the navigation system works great. The 18-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system has a huge subwoofer in the trunk that sounds terrific. As standard equipment, you get a backup camera, steering wheel controls, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, a Wi-Fi hotspot, voice commands, blind spot monitoring, and remote start.
On the Uconnect screen, you’ll have a blast going through all the apps, especially the Performance Pages where you can configure the car any way you wish. The gauge cluster is bright with a driver information center in the middle.
The only option on my tester, besides the Widebody option, is the $2995 automatic transmission.
When you get your Hellcat, you’ll get two keys-one red, one black. The red key unleashes the beast to full horsepower, when the black key is in use, it holds the car to a measly 500-horses. I think my reputation precedes me, Chrysler didn’t bother sending me the black key.
Handling is better than I expected, there is very little lean in hard turns, and overall you get a sense of how well balanced this big coupe is.
Let’s be honest here, this car makes no sense. Who needs over 700-horses? Who needs the bejesus scared out of them every time they get behind the wheel? Who needs a car that averages 12 miles to the gallon combined? Nobody does, but raise your hand if you want one!
Price-wise, Chrysler priced this car very competitively. My review car has an MSRP of $75,585 and that includes the government’s $1700 gas-guzzler tax.
One thing that really impacted me was the quality of this car. This car had 4800 miles on it when I got it. Realize that 4800 press driven miles in a car like this is equivalent to 48,000 normal miles, possibly more. Even with that, the interior shows no wear, the car is super tight, the doors closed solidly, and it shows no signs of abuse at all, even though I know it was driven hard.
I always feel fortunate to spend a week with a car like this. This is a car you must respect, mainly because it deserves it, and secondly if you don’t, you’ll die in it. This is, in fact, the second fastest, most powerful muscle car ever made in America, being beaten only by the new Dodge Demon. As a Hellcat owner, you get a full day of training at the Bob Bondurant driving school, something I would encourage you to do.
Photo Credit: FCATags: 2018 challenger dodge hellcat hemi review srt test drive widebody